‘This is social media’s age — muzzling satire makes it go viral’

How did you start creating political satire?
Well, we’re engineers-turned management grads-turned policy researchers-turned satirists. We were working with Yashwant Sinha in 2011 on the Union Budget’s shadow version. To take a break from the mind-numbing work, we wrote a satirical piece online titled — Government mulls direct cash transfers by dropping money bags from the sky.

This was well-received. So we decided to continue.

In an age of hypersensitivity, will satire survive?
We’re optimistic. This is the age of social media — when someone tries to muzzle free speech, it invariably becomes all the more viral.

Politicians realise that these days — BJP, particularly Narendra Modi, understand social media better than most politicians. So we’re confident satire will only grow.

Unreal Elections is also a first of its kind in India — we’ve used real names in fictional situations and poked fun at them. We’ve established a precedent.

We ensure our work’s based on facts and doesn’t cross certain lines — as long as satire is within bounds, devoid of malice and fair, public figures will take it in their stride.

Satire is growing rapidly in India — what’s driving this?
It’s partly social media and the spread of digital devices which makes it easier to generate and share such content.

That said, satire’s always been part of the public discourse — and in India, some of the best satire comes from politicians taking digs at their rivals.

 

Now, social media provides mechanisms for people to interact with each other and leaders. This enriches the public discourse, with satire also gaining salience. People are more receptive to humour — that’s rubbed off on politicians too.