Hriday Ranjan is an MPhil student who blogs at HeartRanjan. Recently, his blog post ‘Why is Aamir Khan Such A Pretentious Prick‘ showed up on everyone’s social media feeds, lending the satirical blog post instant virality. The post, which was written after Aamir Khan’s response to the AIB Roast, raised a lot of laughs and sparked many a conversation. But Hriday was blogging long before his post spread like wildfire, and his sense of humour and observation has won him a steady stream of followers. BlogAdda spoke to Hriday about his blogging journey, and the interesting reactions that his recent post has generated.
Q. You started blogging in 2007, what was the thought behind starting a blog before it was cool?
Back in school, I was usually in charge of the notice board, where I’d put up funny stuff for people to laugh, or direct humorous plays. When I left school, the internet became a natural extension of that. It began with the Communities on Orkut, and slowly spilled over to a Blogger account, which was later shifted to a WordPress page. And that’s how it began.
Q. How has the journey of your blogging been? Are you still excited about every new post or do you feel some fatigue?
I’d say it has been satisfying. I don’t have a fixed schedule to post stuff – at times it is many posts a week, and sometimes there isn’t anything for months. I work at my own pace, so there’s no fatigue or pressure. A blog is the only medium that allows you this freedom. And it is immensely satisfying to receive emails of appreciation from readers of all ages.
Q. Your posts have a liberal dose of satire and sarcasm. Does it stem from a sense of frustration with the way things are or is it just for fun?
Satire and sarcasm are beautiful ways to put across one’s frustration. And in a country like India, there are so many things to get frustrated about; I doubt I’d blog so often if I lived in Netherlands! Also, I have always been a sarcastic person, and feel sarcasm comes naturally to us Indians. The only problem is we draw strict lines around what can be joked about, and what is off-limits.
Q. Did you imagine that the Aamir Khan post would take off as well as it did? What do you think worked for the article?
Honestly, I hadn’t expected the kind of virality the post witnessed. In fact, it was one of my shoddier written articles. I am a student of journalism and generally research for factual accuracy. I guess what worked for the post was that it was a rant. I have noticed that people love rants. Sometimes I feel like the middle-aged guy in a bar. You know, the guy you go to ask for matches, and he begins talking about the state of the universe!
Aamir Khan has somehow become the thinking man. I have a problem with our obsession with film stars. They make films, earn money, and we go about blindly putting them up on a pedestal.
I had written a blog on Uday Chopra earlier, which was probably more offensive. But since Uday Chopra is not a ‘sensitive, thinking’ star, nobody had a problem with it.
Sadly, for all the sensitivity Aamir Khan tries to bring into his movies, his fans are as ‘violent’ as other fans.
Q. What are the reactions that you have gotten to the Aamir Khan article? We’re sure there must be loads of bouquets and brickbats flung in your direction.
The reactions are rather funny. The most common question being ‘What have YOU done for the nation?’ I don’t get this concept. According to us Indians, one needs to achieve the same status, before talking about someone. If that were true, nobody should talk about Narendra Modi, Sachin Tendulkar, or Don Bradman because nobody has achieved what they have. It’s an extremely childish notion, the kind of stuff teachers say in school – ‘Why are you laughing at him when you also failed in your exam?’ sort of logic. It is absurd.
We take humour not as a joke, but as a personal insult. Which is why everybody is fine circulating jokes about Rahul Gandhi, but stiffen our backs if it is about Modi. Those who liked the post, loved it. Those who didn’t, hated it. The reactions were extreme. One fan threatened to kill me if he met me in real life, which was very surprising. I would have expected Aamir fans to hold a candlelight march in protest!
Q. What do you plan to do with this newfound surge in traffic? Any plans to bank on it?
Not really, but I plan to subtly promote my book through future blogs! Xanadu Nights is the name, keep an eye out, people!
Q. How important is traffic and engagement for you? What are the ways in which you promote your blog?
Actually, I never promote my blog. I have a Facebook page where I post updates, and leave it at that. I have always believed that if your content is good, people will come to you. Also, look at the way posts are shared today – ‘This child entered McDonald’s, what happens next will blow your mind!!!’. When posts like that are shared, how can one compete?
Which is why I am Zen about promoting my blog. I’d rather spend the time writing the next post better.
Which is not to say that traffic and engagement aren’t important. Someone is taking the time out to read, write, and share your post, you have to ensure they don’t feel juvenile about their decision. If you are on social media through much of the day, it makes sense to use it to your benefit.
Q. Tell us something about your life. What are your interests apart from blogging?
I am doing an MPhil on Diasporic Cinema. I am also writing a book – Xanadu Nights – and trying to be a stand up comedian in Hyderabad.
Q. You blog about a wide range of topics – from films and cricket to your personal life. Which blog posts do you enjoy writing the most?
I like writing about films, in fact my MPhil revolves around cinema, and we have very little writing on cinema. There are scholarly research articles, or gossipy, party columns. Observational humour is another favourite, and I love writing about internet trends, politics and cricket.
Q. Have you planned and scheduled your blog posts or blogged as and when inspiration struck?
I post them as and when inspiration strikes. I am paranoid about ideas escaping my head and vanishing into thin air. Which is why I am constantly noting things down on my phone, or post-it notes, or on pieces of paper. Technology has made it so much easier to capture an idea and save it for the future. I use Google Keep for short updates, and SimpleMind, an excellent app for making quick flowcharts.
Also, as a blogger, it is important to talk about an issue when it’s still hot. If I write about Arpita’s marriage now, it won’t make any sense.
Q. What is the biggest challenge that you face in maintaining a blog regularly?
I am a very lazy person. For every blog I post, there are three posts that couldn’t make it. Since my blog talks about current affairs, the challenge is to remain consistent and updated. The other challenge is to keep writing even if there is no response. At times, I write a post and sit back assuming it’s going to break the internet – only to find that it has been shared by three mosquitoes and a housefly.
But a blog involves a steady, loyal readership, and it is important to keep at it.
Q. Do you see any difference in the blogging world from when you started and the current scenario?
There is a world of difference. Earlier, it was just my friends who’d read my posts. Sharing, commenting, referring – all these have become much easier today. If your content is good, this is the best time for you to get loyal readers. Also, people are getting bolder in their topics, asking uncomfortable questions, confronting issues. Look at the role blogging and social media had during the Arab Spring protests – it is phenomenal.
Q. There aren’t any promotional posts or contest/activity posts on your blog. Is there any specific reason for it?
I have tried to maintain the feel of a journal/diary on the blog. Which is why there are no promotional posts. I have tried to keep the tone as personal as possible, and advertisements and contests somehow remove that personal touch from a blog.
Q. Do bloggers have the option of turning into full time bloggers in India? Do you think it’s lucrative?
I haven’t tried to monetize the blog, so I can’t tell for sure. But I know for a fact that niche blogs – on technology, for example – get humongous amount of hits, and can be monetized. Though I doubt anybody has bought a flat from their earnings from a blog!
Q. What do you think sets ‘HeartRanjan’ apart from other blogs?
I think what works for it is the honesty. I have tried to be brutally honest about issues. Also, in a nation where we are constantly bending over backwards for people in power, the irreverence might have worked for people.
Q. Which other bloggers do you follow? Any inspirations?
The Best Page in the Universe, Ashish Shakya, and GreatBong (Arnab Ray). Arnab in particular is an inspiration because he started as a humour blogger and now has three well-written books to his credit.
Q. You seem to get quite nostalgic in your blog. What are the things you miss about the ‘simpler times’?
Probably the fact that we were the generation in transition – a bridge between our parents and our children. I’m sure every generation says that, but the 90s changed many things about our nation and economy. I feel the 90s was the time when we were still getting used to that transition. And that is a veritable goldmine for humour.
Q. What advice would you give to people who want to start blogging?
Write. Write. Write.
1. What makes my day – A mail from a reader.
2. What ruins my day – Bad breakfast.
3. My biggest fear is – That I’ll never be a published author.
4. Favourite movie – Just too many. I feel like the selector of the Argentina football team!
5. Favourite book – Again, too many. But if I had to boil it down, it would be JK Rowling and Murakami’s books.
6. The biggest adventure I’ve been on is – the adventure of self-discovery. Hehe.
7. My ambition is – to straddle successful careers in writing and stand up comedy.
8. The thing closest to my heart is – my manuscript, as of now.
We hope you enjoyed reading Hriday’s candid interview. Let us know what you think about the interview in the comments section below! 🙂