Make Comedy Great Again with Mohsin Tariq's Kashmiri Meme Reloaded

WHEN cafes, parks and streets decided to empty out people during the second wave of covid-19 in Jammu and Kashmir, youngsters found their new hangout on Mohsin Tariq's Instagram live on his handle @kashmiri_memes_reloaded.

Mohsin took the internet circle in Kashmir by storm, especially earlier this year, when he uploaded short Instagram reels calling out common prejudices that plague our society. Perhaps the selling point of this kind of content was that it chided those who shamed people for choices that are often incorrectly or overly criticised in our society. His comedy dominantly engages with the sexist, casteist and classist attitudes that go unchallenged — debunking each, one laugh at a time.

To the digital demographic that uses the internet in Kashmir, he offered a welcome diversion from earlier content trends that would often invite viewership on account of being demeaning to communities and people. To his followers who he calls, K-people, Mohsin's Instagram handle represents a fresh and safe space.

His popularity owes itself to him being quite relatable. However, it is essentially this element that invokes enigma around him as he's not based out in Kashmir. To demystify this enigma, Kashmir Observer got up close and personal with K-people's best friend himself. Here's what had us hooked with what he shared with us:

Even as people feel a connect with you, there's still a mystery around your specifics. Could you tell us a little about yourself? 

I was born in Khuzestan, Iran to Kashmiri parents. I had the opportunity to travel and live in various countries throughout my life. One of my fondest childhood memories was attending Burn Hall school in Srinagar. I have lived in srinagar for five years between grade 5th and 10th. I completed the rest of my education from ABAC in Bangkok, Thailand. I work and live outside Kashmir but do not feel comfortable divulging more details about it. It’s also fun because people try and keep guessing.

A lot of my followers think I am from Lassipora. Frankly, I didn't even know the place existed. It is only after being told that I realised that my made-up place was in fact a real one in Kashmir. I am from Srinagar and so are both of my parents.

What inspired you towards content creation? 

Being far away from the K land, the Kashmiri meme page was born out of the sheer longing to connect with like-minded people and get to know more about my roots, culture and stay in touch with what’s happening in the valley. Initially, I had started off with a different page where I intended to bring together all kinds of content posted on the k-social media space. However, I had to soon discontinue that because of instagram policies.

That’s when I decided to create content on my own. As the page evolved, I realised I had something bigger on my hands, so I decided consciously to create content with social messages.

You're new to the social media landscape in Kashmir, when you started, did you feel there was a space that was open for you to fill? 

I was quick to realise (with my few live interactions with people) that on K- social media, there was a lack of a safe space where the millennials and Gen Z could come up and discuss issues that they were facing. A space where they could laugh, feel safe, welcome and where they would feel like they are a part of a community which they could call their own.

A page where humour is king.

Do you feel that your social media community is distinct? 

I would like to believe it’s very distinct because my content has reached people across the globe especially those living away from Kashmir. The content I created hit a sweet spot with Kashmiri Pandits, the Kashmiri Sikh community, Kashmiri Muslims and some non-Kashmiri followers as well. In turn, what my page, Kashmiri_memes_reloaded did was to bring these communities together under one big umbrella.

When you examined the comedy scene on K-social media. Did you consciously feel the need to jump in and contribute? 

I love K social media comedy; some memes and reels are just phenomenal. However, I personally believe that comedy has to be more meaningful. It is something everyone should be able to enjoy without being disrespectful to different communities or people.

I have tried really hard to make our K-people community stay one on the principle of accepting and being kind to each and all. The community that I and my followers have built, works each day to ensure that racist slurs, abusive language, sexist comments and bullying is filtered out. We mutually report such instances and weed out the trash when need be.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Mo (@kashmiri_memes_reloaded)


Could you tell us how you've managed to be so updated about mundane things that are impossible to gauge, not having lived here for so long? 

I churn out content from the niches of my personal experience and memories. I am a Kashmiri at heart, through and through. Additionally, my community ensures that I stay updated. They're the ones that often flag issues they face and inspire me to make content around these.

Tell us a little about your live sessions on Instagram. What do you feel is the selling point for these?

My live sessions are pretty unique. I have viewers from the age of 4-70, watching every day without fail. The sessions are light, humorous and easy-breezy most times. It’s a free space to say whatever you want to say, without being judged. The excitement of who’s ‘Neksht”/ Next keeps people on the edge of their seats at all times.

Many people have connected offline just by engaging with each other in the comment's section. A lot of business networking has happened via my lives. And who’s to know how much love has spread? I am made to believe that these sessions are an escape from people’s mundane lives and are almost like therapy to most.

 

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A post shared by Mo (@kashmiri_memes_reloaded)


What would you say is the vision of your journey as a content creator? 

I only have one solid vision, even if small.

My job's done if even one person, anywhere in or outside Kashmir, can unlearn one of our societal dogmas. That's the hope that drives me. The hope to have a world where we're kind to each other and one is not only soft towards judging others but also kind towards dealing with oneself.

 

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A post shared by Mo (@kashmiri_memes_reloaded)


Whose work in Kashmir do you enjoy the most in Kashmir's art and entertainment scene especially on Social Media? 

The music that's coming out of Kashmir is stellar. We're all proud of how artists are coming up with work that is local and global at the same time. I am rooting for each one of them and each has a huge potential.

Your very popular dictum, "Ye gonah hai", has found fans in young people who use it to state confidence in their choices. How do you think you've found acceptance and handled criticism? 

The trick is humour. To take everything said at me with a pinch of salt and a tall glass of humour. As long as I know that I personally am not doing anything severely wrong, whatever is said to me is irrelevant.

Why are discussions about politics a big no-no in your space?

Being children of conflict, our lives are ridden with negativity, pain, mental illnesses, political dramas and much more. Every moment is tiring.

That is why I made a conscious decision to create a space where people from all walks of life can come together and just for a moment, be united. This has created a happy escape for many who put aside their political views and focused on their similarities rather than differences.

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Tooba Towfiq

Tooba Towfiq is the Opinion Editor at Kashmir Observer. She tweets at tooba_tweets

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