Just when a section of the country accused Aamir Khan of blasphemy and pronounced him an anti-national for observing that India is becoming progressively intolerant, two students of Miami Ad School came up with a website that became an instant hit. After all, it was called www.slapaamir.com.
The website allowed you to 'slap' Khan virtually, i.e if you moved the cursor on to the picture of the actor's face on the page, a hand appeared to whack the actor, accompanied with a loud slapping sound. On 28 November, Buzzfeed quoted the creators of the site - Himanish Ashar and Dhvani Shah - as saying, "Whether he deserves it or not is debatable, but we thought of the best possible way of trolling this incident."
On the face of it, the idea may seem appalling. The undercurrent of violence in the idea is unmistakable, encouraging people to virtually slap a person is quite a disturbing manifestation of what we call 'trolling'.
But many Indians took to it like fish to water. The creators of the website told HuffPost India in a mail, "The plan was to see if people actually slap him and to our surprise he got over 8 million slaps on the website in over 15 hours. Many found it hilarious and understood the sarcasm in it, but most were slapping him in anger..."
However, here's the catch.
The website also urged users to claim a reward by sharing the link. The makers claim that the moment someone shared the link of the website via their registered Facebook or Twitter accounts, the page re-directed them to a 'cheque'.
Which looked a bit like this:
Ashar and Shah claim that the website was actually set up to show people the mirror and point out how intolerant they are that they would take to virtally slapping a person.
However, that doesn't change the fact that the site did facilitate the slapping process. And the 'cheque' which declares the user intolerant would have only been sent to a person who shared the website, not someone who slapped Khan virtually and didn't proceed to share the website link through the Facebook and Twitter buttons available on their page.
That said, it was a clever effort to troll the bitter trolls, though it wasn't completely foolproof.
After a section of India 'proved (their) point that people can be intolerant', Ashar and Shah moved on to what they call the phase II of their plan.
"In the name of supporting Aamir and every Indian citizen's freedom of speech, we turned SlapAamir.com into KissAamir.com. KissAamir, similar to SlapAamir, but with an all new meaning and identity. Only now, we ask people to spread love, not intolerance. This is probably the truest test of what the nation feels about Aamir Khan right now. Whether it feels like slapping or kissing him. Aamir Khan was slapped 8 million times, and the idea was to see if he could get over 8.1 million kisses," the makers said.
According to them, they have launched the second version of the site, Aamir Khan has been kissed 3 million times in just 8 hours.
When you share the new website through the Facebook and Twitter buttons on the page, you are greeted with the following message: "Dear tolerant citizen of India, thank you for kissing Aamir Khan. We will make sure that your love reaches him."
"All in all, the last 36 hours have been a completely different way of stating a message to a country like India. We believed that humour would be the best form of dealing with the intolerance issue that the actor is going through," they added.
Contact HuffPost India
Also see on HuffPost: