The real Kiki Challenge

Aug 15, 2018, 09:12 IST | Snigdha Hasan

Meet the Dombivali man whose video crossed 5 million views, and shows how staged stunts pale before Mumbai's train commute

The real Kiki Challenge
Stills from the video

When a trend, a First-World import in particular, catches on, the first instinct is to jump on the bandwagon with a slew of hashtags, memes, pictures or carefully executed videos. Virality feeds off these tools. And let's admit it, if you manage to quieten the critic in you, visuals of people pouring a bucket of ice over themselves — or more recently, gyrating to Canadian rapper Drake's track, In My Feelings, before a slow-moving car — can be fun. Until of course the fun fizzles out, like it did for three Mumbai lads, who took the Kiki Challenge to the city's lifeline and got caught for attempting stunts on a local train.

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So, when another video shot in a Mumbai local with the caption "#kiki" sprang up on our Facebook timeline, we almost scrolled past it, but for the suggestion of a friend who had shared it saying, "The only Kiki Challenge video you should watch." We hit play, and watched the first-class general compartment of a Mumbai local chug into a crowded station. Before the train comes to a halt, a few gallant men hop on to the train, call dibs on their favourite seat, while the rest rush in to find a comfortable spot to stand.

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What streamed on the phone was a version of the many peak-hour madness clips we have watched. But set to the beats of the popular track and rendered in slow motion from the perspective of someone already in the compartment, it stirs something within you. As it did for the five million people who have viewed it since the video was shot last Friday by Dombivali resident Kunal Mahesh Pagare.

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The 24-year-old football coach boards a train from Dombivali and gets off at Dadar to board another local on the Western line to Andheri or Borivali, depending on the school he is scheduled to coach at. "I was headed to Gorai that day and was listening to In My Feelings. The Kiki Challenge incident about the young boys being caught was fresh in my mind, too. So, when the train slowed down as it entered Borivali, I thought, why not make a video of the Kiki Challenge we go through every day in Mumbai?" Pagare tells us.

He edited the recording, uploaded it and switched off his phone on reaching school. Three hours later, the video had already garnered 20,000 views. "I didn't know it would go viral. Even my parents received the video on WhatsApp" Pagare says, adding that those who can be seen in the video have reached out to him, too.

Kunal Mahesh Pagare
Kunal Mahesh Pagare

"Though I have been taking the train for 10 years, it's a different feeling to see yourself do it, all so one can reach office with some energy left," says Dahisar resident Sandip Shriram Salvi, who took the train that day.

While the sheer incredible feat of boarding a Mumbai local explains the astounding number of comments in Thai, Spanish, Mexican and other languages on the post, it is this stark reality of what countless Mumbaikars go through that has struck a chord within India. Despite the peppy beats, the fun quotient wears off soon, and what remains are visuals of people jostling for space, risking their lives, and yet, making room for commuters just like them, on their way to earning a living.

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