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In Meme-orium: 35 Iconic Memes That Defined India In 2017

A truly meme-orable year.

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1. Kangana Ranaut On Aap Ki Adalat

Friend, vacationing in Prague: "Dude what's up, where are you these days" Me, sitting at my work desk:

There was a month-long period in 2017 when it seemed like you couldn't turn around without seeing Kangana Ranaut and Hrithik Roshan air their increasingly dirty laundry in front of the media.

While almost no good came out of that spat, we did get a pretty hilarious meme based solely off quotes that Ranaut gave during her tell-all interview on Aap Ki Adalat.

2. The Trivago Guy

All India Bakchod

The Trivago guy was this year's Airtel Girl – present everywhere you looked, and annoying AF. With the ads being so omnipresent, it was no surprise that he was memed endlessly.

Spoiler alert: The actor in the ads isn't even a professional actor. He's just one of their country managers.

3. Link Aadhaar

If you switched your phone on for even a second in 2017, chances are that it was bombarded by a gazillion SMSs and notifications asking you to link your Aadhaar card to every aspect of your life. From service providers to banks, from Amazon to Paytm, it seemed like you couldn't take a breath without someone prompting you to link your Aadhaar first.

With its validity still being debated in court, memes were the only way a lot of people could express their frustration. And, man alive, has this meme stuck around or what!

4. "Myself Coming From Village Area"

When you order 10 drinks on an international flight just because they're free...

Half Girlfriend may have been one of the year's more dismal films, but this single line of dialogue spawned one of our most enduring memes.

Arjun Kapoor plays a simple guy who moves from a tiny village to the big city, and his honest confession about his small-town roots gave plenty of people the opportunity to unleash some self-deprecating (albeit elitist) jokes.

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6. Exasperating Farrago

Voldemort: Avada kedavra, Expelliarmus. S Tharoor: Exasperating farrago of distortions, misrepresentations and outright lies. Volde: ded.

That Shashi Tharoor has a way with words is no secret. But, during an angry Twitter rant about some alleged lies Arnab Goswami was peddling about him, Tharoor found out that there is a line between eloquence and self-parody. That line, as the internet was kind enough to point out, was the needlessly complex phrase "exasperating farrago".

Whatever you make of his politics, you can't deny that the man singlehandedly expanded the Indian internet's vocabulary in 2017.

7. Covfefe

imgur.com

We can't talk about hard-to-decipher tweets without discussing Donald Trump and "covfefe". Just a couple of weeks after Tharoor's "farrago" faux pas, Trump posted a tweet that experts are still trying to decipher.

As the world tried to figure out what exactly Trump was trying to say, we Indians jumped in with some pretty hilarious insights of our own.

8. Nagar Palika Ko Bulao

All India Bakchod

In October, an angry young man released a short clip of him tripping over a pothole, and then cussing out the city's lax municipal corporation in hilariously aggressive fashion.

What followed was a bunch of video compilations of people tripping over things, overlaid with this dude's angry rant. Not one of them isn't funny.

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9. Dank Irrfan

In May, All India Bakchod got the legendary Irrfan Khan to recreate a bunch of the internet's most popular memes. It didn't take long for the concept to catch on, with Dank Irrfan images now arguably becoming more popular on the Indian internet than the originals themselves.

10. Snapchat's Dog Filter

All India Bakchod

Speaking of AIB, what year can be complete without a controversy or two from them? After finding a photo of a Narendra Modi doppelgänger, they dared to use the Snapchat dog filter to make a pretty harmless joke about the PM. Or so they thought...

Modi supporters were outraged and an FIR was filed against the group almost immediately. Though nothing much came of the case, the dog filter did become hugely popular in the aftermath, as everyone from Shashi Tharoor to Derek O'Brien uploaded selfies with it to extend their support for AIB.

11. Hiding From A Serial Killer

BuzzFeed India

This huge meme brought together a potent mix of nostalgia, pop culture knowledge, and what musicians know as "call and response".

TL;DR: It's a song lyric, ad jingle, phrase, or basically anything that you can't help but vocally respond to...even if you're hiding from a serial killer.

12. Meryl Streep Singing

instagram.com

Another meme in the vein of "Hiding From A Serial Killer", this still of Meryl Streep hooting at an awards show could've been memed a thousand different ways. The most popular usage of the screenshot involved lyrics you just have to sing along to.

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13. Ishant Face

During a tense spell in the India-Australia test match in Bengaluru earlier this year, Ishant Sharma chose to diffuse things by mocking the faces that the batsmen were making in trying to fend off his bouncers.

While India went on to win the match, it was Ishant who won the internet.

14. Sonu Nigam Going Bald

On an otherwise uneventful morning in April, an annoyed Sonu Nigam tweeted that he was being woken up by the loudspeakers at a mosque near his house. All hell broke loose, as a cleric declared a reward of ₹10 lakh for anyone who shaved Nigam's head for offending religious sentiments.

What followed was the most surreal press conference of all time, as Sonu Nigam gathered the media and got his head shaved clean himself, insisting that he wasn't anti-Muslim. He never saw the money, but he did instantly become pretty badass in the internet's eyes.

It's all especially hilarious when you consider the fact that all the guy wanted was some sleep.

16. The Floor Is Lava

Based on that age-old childhood game, this meme originated in the US as a riff on all the things and responsibilities people wanted to avoid. Turns out there were a lot of people avoiding stuff in India too.

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17. Deepak Sharma

Interviewer: Any achievements in life? Deepak Sharma:

In August, a man by the name of Deepak Sharma released a disturbing video in which he was seen beating someone up. He angrily warned anyone watching that these were the consequences of making memes that made fun of religion. He also rattled off a sizeable list of his educational qualifications for those who might think of him as just an unintelligent goon.

While the police promised to take action against Sharma, the internet turned him into the very thing he was rallying against – a meme.

18. Salt Bae

BuzzFeed

With a single flourish of the wrist, Turkish steakhouse chef Nusret Gökçe instantly became an internet phenomenon around the world.

India, of course, was no exception to his charms, as he gave everyone a licence to be flashy about situations that demanded absolutely zero flash.

19. Andha Naal

Halfway through 2017, someone unearthed this immensely memeable still from the 1950 Tamil movie Andha Naal. As one can see, it lends itself perfectly to a vast array of relatable situations, and it's no surprise that this meme is still going strong.

20. "Selfie Maine Le Li Aaj"

Facebook: proline14pdc

Dhinchak Pooja has been around for a while, but 2017 was the year she became the undisputed queen of Indian cringepop (and, unsurprisingly, Bigg Boss). Almost all of it was driven by her biggest single, "Selfie Maine Le Li Aaj".

While no one in the memeverse will dispute that the song is objectively awful, it does have an earwormy chorus that is totally usable on a daily basis. It's no wonder that it was one of the year's biggest memes.

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21. "Bol Na Aunty Aau Kya"

Facebook: ShitIndiansSayInc

Speaking of cringepop, the year's other viral hit was rapper Omprakash Mishra's controversial "Aunty Ki Ghanti". At one point, the song was so omnipresent that hundreds of strangers in New Delhi met up for a Facebook event created solely for them to sing it in public.

Eventually, a bunch of concerned people pointed out that the lyrics were way more misogynistic than anyone had bothered to think about. Once everyone opened their eyes to its problematic nature, the meme died a swift death.

22. Pennywise Baiting People

All India Bakchod

A meme about people risking their lives for hilariously minuscule things, Pennywise from It reemerged in 2017, decades after he was first conceived. Even if you weren't a Stephen King fan, you couldn't avoid this meme this year.

23. Blinking White Guy

imgur.com

A perfect meme for a year so characterised by near constant incredulity, the "Blinking White Guy" rose to meme fame in February. The man in the GIF is named Drew Scanlon, and his iconic blink came from a gaming video he appeared in in 2013. This was a meme that transcended all barriers and truly went international.

24. Spoke To My Ex After 10 Years

Twitter: @I_SalmanOHolic

In February, Twitter user Namrata Datta tweeted a 140-character short story about running into her ex after 10 years. It blew up unlike anything the country had ever seen, quickly becoming India's second-most retweeted tweet of all time.

Unfortunately, people soon realised that the tweet was plagiarised word-for-word, and it went from a highly satisfying microtale to a joke format that you can still see going around.

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25. Baahubali 2

All India Bakchod

This year, the sequel to 2015's epic Baahubali became the biggest blockbuster India had ever seen. But even before all those records came the memes. And this single frame, of some townsfolk staring at something offscreen in shock and horror, was its most popular export to the memeverse.

It may not have been as enduring as "Why Katappa Killed Baahubali" from the prequel, but it was pretty hilarious nonetheless.

26. Koi Nahi Aayega

All India Bakchod

Moving on from the year's biggest film to its most critically acclaimed: This screencap from Newton became the internet's go-to any time someone wanted to highlight an unappealing event.

27. Aise Kaise

This black and white still of Raj Kapoor and Waheeda Rehman mid-dance, combined with a hilariously inappropriate phrase, was perfect for any situation that demanded the response "Are you serious?"

Instant classic.

28. Roll Safe

Twitter: @peg_lateral

Reece "Roll Safe" Simpson (aka actor Kayode Ewumi's character in British web series #HoodDocumentary) starred in one of the biggest memes of the year, and was the ultimate symbol of your best worst decisions. It was only a matter of time before we Indians found worthy desi counterparts.

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29. Biswa Kalyan Rath's Introvert Joke

imgur.com

Two years ago, Biswa made a joke about being an introvert and what the phrase "go chill" means to him. The joke resurfaced recently but, this time, as a howlarious meme.

People started photoshopping different faces on to Biswa's body, thus rehauling the punchline in ways he couldn't possibly have imagined when he first wrote the joke.

30. Priyanka Chopra's MET Gala Outfit

This is the 3rd time I'm removing malai from my chai and it's getting out of hand now.

Priyanka Chopra's style choices have often been lauded, but the Ralph Lauren trench coat/gown she wore to this year's MET Gala lent itself pretty seamlessly to some extremely amusing photoshop jobs.

Chopra has some high meme standards to live up to at next year's event.

31. Mahendra Stretch Dhoni

Twitter: @raushank265

Even though he's almost at the end of his career, MS Dhoni is still one active dude. One demonstration of his fitness came during a match last month, when he pulled out a 180-split at full stretch to avoid getting stumped.

The image is iconic, and so are the hundreds of memes it spawned.

32. "Wear Helmet At The Back"

@Hrishismm

Last month, Sachin Tendulkar uploaded a video in which he drove around Mumbai, reminding unsuspecting bike riders that they should always wear a helmet. He took particular effort to remind pillion riders that this meant them too.

There was no way that the one line he keeps repeating – "Wear helmet at the back also" – wasn't going to become a meme, and the internet didn't disappoint.

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33. Motu Patlu

twitter.com

It's hard to explain what exactly happened here, but here's an explainer that tries anyway.

TL;DR: A Nickelodeon India ad used animated characters Motu and Patlu to teach adults "How To Dab". The cringey video somehow made its way to Facebook groups and, eventually, the world's most famous vlogger, PewDiePie. Basically, Motu is now an international thicc icon, and this was India's was viral meme export in 2017.

34. "Malhari" Mashups

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com

2017 was the year Reddit's American users inexplicably became obsessed with Ranveer Singh's high-energy video for "Malhari", two years after Bajirao Mastani first released. They deemed that his intense moves were perfect to mash up with hip-hop tracks, and the results were glorious.

(Though, it must be said that my personal favourite, and the most absurd, "Malhari" mashup was this one from comedian Chris D'Elia, which had nothing to do with hip-hop or any other genre of music.)

35. Prayer Aunty

reddit.com

For a few fleeting moments during this year's IPL final, this image of Nita Ambani's mom praying for her team's success was broadcast to millions of homes around the world. She would've been viral in any case, but the fact that the team actually won only added to her aura.

"Prayer Aunty", as she is now fondly known, is the meme we all need to turn to for a happy 2018.