It is easier to keep up with the Kardashians than the raging drama around TikTok.
Earlier this week, the Indian government announced that it will be banning 59 Chinese apps, including video-creating platform TikTok. Soon, mixed reactions from all corners started pouring in. Some of them were of relief, unsurprisingly (the app had been in the eye of the storm for a long time now), and a few others included messages from content creators, guiding their fans to other social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube.
The truth is that in this tug of war between the government and Chinese-owned apps, there is only one loser. And that is the content creator.
While there have been reasonable cybersecurity-related concerns that prompted this ban — the Ministry of Information Technology said these apps are engaged in “activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity, defence of India, security of state and public order” — there are also reasons to look at the other side of this story.
TikTok had democratised content like no other platform. With India accounting for 30.3 percent of its two billion global downloads, stats are proof that the app had made its way even to the remotest pockets of the country. It was actually possible for someone hailing from a Tier-III city or a rural town with a smartphone and an internet connection to film videos and gain access to recognition and income usually limited to ‘influencers’ in the big cities.
But with the ban, things are bound to change. MAKERS India takes a look at some of these lesser known people who became an overnight sensation, all thanks to the TikTok phenomenon.
Geeta Sridhar’s Instagram feed is a heaven for food aficionados. From a mouth-watering spread of Kutty Dosai to a glimpse of the traditional Pongal Kotsu, her pictures are mostly of delicious dishes. No wonder then that the 54-year-old homemaker enjoys a following of more than 37,000 users on the site.
But Instagram wasn’t Geeta’s actual playing field, it was TikTok. There, with snippets of her cooking and dancing videos, she had earned over one million fans. Geeta even monetised these videos, earning an average of Rs 50,000 per month through various collaborations with the brands.
Siri Challa, a 23-year-old student, is among the many TikTok users who had found overnight success on the ByteDance company-owned social media platform. Her videos, usually featuring her with her mother dancing to feet-tapping tracks, became an instant favourite on the site.
So much so that within three months of Siri posting these peppy numbers, she had garnered one million followers. Not only this, but the young dancer is also said to have inked a promotion deal with a beauty brand.
If you have been on TikTok or have even followed the viral videos that made their way to other social media platforms, you will know that lip-sync videos are a thing. Our favourite content creators would simply sing along to the lyrics of some of the popular songs, and the next thing you know, videos of them lip-syncing to these songs have become a rage online.
Vishnupriya Nair, a 19-year-old content creator from Aurangabad, Maharashtra, was known for her unputdownable sing-along videos. Especially, her expressions to the tune of Khuda ki Inayat are hard to miss. The clip garnered her 3.6 million likes, while her TikTok profile bagged some 2.6 million followers.
A common praise that most TikTok users have sung about the app is regarding its tech. The interface and even the algorithms were such that the platform shone the spotlight on content creators coming from every background, place, and genre. Whether it is cooking or dancing or singing, there was hardly any particular category that cast a shadow on the others.
And the result of this was a social media platform that created stars like Meenu Lakshmi. The 24-year-old, who hails from Kottayam, Kerala, had around 1.7 million followers. And needless to say, her 15-second videos, dancing to the tune of Malayalam and Bollywood songs, were widely loved.
When five-year-old Noorpreet Kaur, hailing from a small village in Moga, Punjab, made her debut on TikTok, netizens wasted no time in showering the adorable, young star with all the love and attention. And why not? In the disguise of a little sardarji, with her cheeky one-liners and sassy eye-rolls, Noor is absolutely adorable and a star in her own right.
But it is the story behind her popularity that touches the heart. The daughter of a daily wager – her father, Satnam Singh works as a brick kiln worker – Noor was introduced to social media by a local shop owner Sandeep Toor. And while he did make her first account, the credit from there on goes to the little sensation for winning hearts and a massive 2.6 million followers on TikTok.
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)