20/12/2016 12:09 PM IST | Updated 06/02/2017 5:40 PM IST

20 Indian Memes That Nearly Broke The Internet In 2016

Meme in India.


Richard Dawkins coined the word "meme" in his 1976 bestseller The Selfish Gene. At the time, he probably did not know that some day his coinage will become a part of daily vocabulary across the globe.

If you aren't in sync with Internet culture, memes refer to jokes, urban legends, videos, funny pictures or contagious music that go viral online, becoming a part of the millennial consciousness. Memes hugely influence modern language and culture.

And we Indians have pretty much nailed it.

Here's a list of those who gave us some crackling desi memes in 2016.

1. Baba Ramdev.

The India Today newsweekly showed Ramdev in a yoga posture that would best be described as bending over and facing the camera with his head upside down and between his legs. Yes, exactly.

As soon as the magazine tweeted out its cover photo, Twitter went into disbelief.

2. Tiger Shroff.

Shroff junior is known for his flexible body and for mastering martial art forms such as Kalaripayattu, Modern Kung fu, Krav Maga and Silat.

All that hard work and training seems to be paying off for the budding star and, in all innocence, Shroff shared a photo of his youthful and agile self on his official Facebook account.

Tiger Shroff / Facebook

Yep. He became a meme.

3. Chetan Bhagat.

Bhagat tweeted a photo of his novel, One Indian Girl, resting on a ledge in the sunny and scenic Greek islands of Mykonos and solicited more pretty pictures of his book set against scenic backdrops.

Trust trollers to be at hand to expand the meaning of 'camera skills' to include 'photoshopping skills'.

4. Sonam Gupta Bewafa Hai.

Amidst the currency ban chaos and long waits outside banks and ATMs, Twitter managed to find humour and make 'Sonam Gupta Bewafa Hai' top-trending on all social media channels.

5. Arvind Kejriwal.

When Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal met fishermen in Goa, he was given a traditional welcome by the community and made to wear a tiara made out of flowers.

Adorned in the traditional Goan headgear, Kejriwal's photo spread like wildfire on social media and he became a meme in no time.

Kejriwal turned into a meme. Again.

On 1 May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched e-boats and e-rickshaws in his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi and took rides in both. He also distributed 1000 e-rickshaws among beneficiaries.

However, the Delhi CM was a bit miffed with the Reliance and Ola sponsor logos on the rickshaw that Modi rode in and took a dig at the PM.

He didn't know that his banter would backfire on him.

6. Demonetisation.

In a move aimed at curbing black money and corruption, the government scrapped old ₹500 and ₹1,000 currency notes.

The social media was, as always, quick to make jokes.

7. Aamir Khan.

Bollywood perfectionist Aamir Khan displayed his dedication and commitment yet again, showing to the world that he could go through extreme body transformation just for his character in a movie.

For his role in Dangal, 51-year-old Khan transformed from a 97-kilo weighing retired wrestler to a six-pack sporting sportsperson.


While the transformation inspired many of us to set our own fitness goals, social media did what it does best, grabbing the opportunity to turn Khan's photographs into an Internet meme.

8. Pineapple Pen.

This song is about PPAP, which stands for 'Pen Pineapple Apple Pen' and features Piko-Taro, a character created by Japanese comedian Daimaou Kosaka.

The infectious song has had 37 million views on YouTube.

And it trended globally. We Indians weren't far behind in catching up.

9. Shilpa Shetty.

Sometime back, it was announced that the English literature syllabus in ICSE schools will include Harry Potter, Agatha Christie's novels, Tolkein's The Hobbit and Satyajit Ray's Feluda.

In an interview, actress Shilpa Shetty wholeheartedly supported the move, saying,

"Books like Lord Of The Rings (LOTR) and Harry Potter as part of the syllabus is a great move because it cultivates imagination and creativity at a young age. They should include books like Little Women, as it encourages respect towards women at a young age. Even a book like Animal Farm can teach the little ones to love and care for animals."

While Shetty's heart was in the right place when she made the comment, the fact that she held up Animal Farm -- a 1945 dystopian novella by George Orwell, counted as among the finest examples of political satire -- an example of children's literature, was enough for Twitter hounds to smell blood.

10. Chaiwala / Arshad Khan.

Pakistani photographer Jiah Ali was on a photo walk in an Islamabad market when she came across a guy selling tea in a chai shop.

The photo went viral for obvious reasons and Khan was signed as a model by an online retailer. He also got a stunning makeover on a Pakistani TV show.

11. Narendra Modi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined the ranks of prominent global figures in the world famous wax museum Madame Tussauds. Dressed in Modi's trademark cream-coloured churidar kurta and sleeveless jacket, the statue strikes a namaste pose.

Madame Tussauds / Youtube

Inevitably, social media chimed in with some harmless yet hilarious jokes!

You cannot NOT have Modi become a meme twice.

In a photograph taken at an event at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Modi -- little aware that he is about to become meme material again -- is seen sitting with arms folded, looking down somberly, as if avoiding eye contact with the host of dignitaries sitting across from him.


What happened next... turned into a meme.

Modi strikes again!

The G-20 Hangzhou Summit in China was held on 4 and 5 September, where world leaders came together to discuss global issues such as trade and terrorism.

This perfectly timed meme-worthy photo was clicked at the event and destined to become a viral joke. It shows Modi pointing his index finger at Barack Obama, the president of the United States.

Associated Press

12. Harambe.

Harambe, a 17-year-old lowland gorilla who was shot and killed by a Cincinnati Zoo worker to save a small child who had wandered into its enclosure, is long dead, unlike his memes.

Over the months, the gorilla's death has evolved from a tragedy to a perfect meme. Harambe memes have flooded the Internet, even prompting the Cincinnati Zoo, a prime target, to delete their social media accounts because of the unending barrage of jokes around the gorilla.

Oh, btw, there was a candlelight vigil held for Harambe in New Delhi in October.


13. Pokémon.

The augmented reality-based game lets users seek Pokémon in real life. You might find a Pokémon in your cab or on the road. The app has attained #1 position in the App Store and Play Store, with the whole world losing their s**t over it.



15. Pahlaj Nihalani.

The Internet erupted after the head of Central Board of Film Certification of India (CBFC), Pahlaj Nihalani gave The Jungle Book a U/A certificate for being "scary" for kids. Nihalani said that the 3D effects were "scary" because the "animals seem to jump right at the audience."

None too pleased by the certification, Twitter mocked the censor board's decision.

Sanskari Hollywood Poster #4

A photo posted by All India Bakchod (@allindiabakchod) on

Sanskari Hollywood Poster #6

A photo posted by All India Bakchod (@allindiabakchod) on

16. Chatur.

Okay, this was pretty random. There's no history to the surfacing of this meme. It just happened. The meme features Chatur Ramalingam or Silencer, played by Omi Vaidya in the Bollywood blockbuster 3 Idiots.

The image is from the film's intense 'terrace' sequence where Chatur challenges Aamir Khan to make a more successful career than him in the next ten years.

17. Manmohan Singh.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh criticised the Narendra Modi government over its surprise move to demonetise 500 and 1,000 currency notes.

In uncharacteristically strong words, the usually mild-mannered Singh called demonetisation "organised loot and legalised plunder," adding that it was a "monumental management failure."

The Internet came together to meme the f**k out of MMS, including Modi's reaction to former's speech.

18. Virat Kohli.

Earlier this year, champ cricketer Virat Kohli lashed out at social media trolls as the Internet dragged Bollywood actor Anushka Sharma and Kohli's friend into comments about his on-field performance.

He also posted on his Instagram account where he wrote:

Shame on those people who have been having a go at anushka for the longest time and connecting every negative thing to her. Shame on those people calling themselves educated. Shame on blaming and making fun of her when she has no control over what i do with my sport. If anything she has only motivated and given me more positivity. This was long time coming. Shame on these people that hide and take a dig. And idont need any respect for this post. Have some compassion and respect her. Think of how your sister or girlfriend or wife would feel if someone trolled them and very conveniently rubbished them in public. #nocompassion#nocommonsense

Twitter India revealed that Kohli's viral tweet is the most retweeted tweet of 2016, getting over 39,700 retweets and over 100,000 likes.

But Twitter being Twitter did what it does. Turn it into a meme.

19. National Anthem.

The National Anthem must be played before movie screening in cinema halls across the country while the national flag appears on the screen, and everyone must stand when it is played, ruled the Supreme Court of India.

The court said, "National Anthem can instill sense of committed patriotism and nationalism," adding that, "citizens must respect the national anthem and the national flag."

Social media instantly caught hold of the news and turned an otherwise dull day into a joke fest.

20. Pierce Brosnan.

Indians woke up to newspaper and billboard ads of Pierce Brosnan aka Remington Steele aka James Bond holding a tin of Pan Bahar pan masala.


And for obvious reasons, desis lost it.

Me gearing up for memes in 2017.

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