You don’t need a little birdie to tell you that Twitter is trending in India. Research shows that by the end of the year, India will become the world’s third-largest user base for the site, with about 18.1 million of us tweeting, retweeting, responding, following, unfollowing, favouriting or just listening in.
So whom should you be listening to? We’ve put together our masterlist of great accounts that keep us informed and entertained within the character count and offer bits of wisdom that belie their restricted size. We’ve got celebs and comics. News makers and news breakers. Guys with views and guys with viewfinders. Contests, quizzes and questions that need your answers.
No boring bots, no obligatory accounts, no tolerance for big names and dull tweets. Just great tweeters, great retweeters and those who made our timeline sweeter; followers and real-life clout be damned. So, are they your favourites too?
The parody experts
They’re not who they say they are. In a nation that wants to know, but often cannot handle the truth, they often reveal more than their muses ever could.
Marendra Nodi @MarendraNodi
Our bio: Mitron! Here’s a hilarious alter ego of the man with India’s most powerful job
Norinder Mudi @NorinderMudi
Our bio: Misspelled, mispronounced observations make all the peepalz crie laufing
Ambaniji’s Diary @FakeAmbaniji
Our bio: Rich man’s ‘diary’ captures all the trappings of unreasonable wealth and power
Our bio: The pretentious fake Rushdie stopped tweeting last week. But scroll for laughs
Drunk Gulzar @EkPegAurSahi
Our bio: Gulzar turns words into poetry but Drunk Gulzar turns poetry into limericks
Faking News @fakingnews
Their bio: Indian news satire website
Common Indian Guy @commondesiguy
Our bio: His #DesiProblems are your #DesiProblems too
Khap Panchayat @KhapPanchayat
Modified Tweet (MT): We firmly believe that sex education should be provided as per our cultural values i.e. child marriage
The UnReal Times @TheUnRealTimes
Their bio: India’s favourite satire portal
Arnab Goswami @JudgeArnab
Our bio: This is where the outrage turns into the outrageous
The wise guys
For them, brevity is the soul of wit. They’ll reduce the news to a punch line and find humour (or wry wisdom) in everything.
The Bad Doctor @doctoratlarge
MT: Truth is the most dangerous addiction – it can get you beaten up, ostracised, tortured and killed
Our bio: What started off as a spoof is now an all-out comedy account and even a book
MT: Sarcasm is like electricity, half of the villagers are yet to get it
Our bio: News, views and the lighter side of life, from the much-loved Mumbai comic
Vir Das @thevirdas
MT: Cows,Sheep,Potheads& Vegans - All proof you don’t need to win Wimbledon to eat grass.
Our bio: The fastest funny responses to the headlines
Ramesh Srivats @rameshsrivats
Their bio: Armchair thinker, excessive drinker, occasional writer, wants to be lighter
Our bio: Older than 14, pissed off Sonam Kapoor, hates every celeb
Lindsay Pereira @lindsaypereira
Our bio: Wisecracks about everything. Love only for Tori Amos
José Covaco @HoeZaay
Their bio: That guy that makes those 7 second videos. Also that guy with MTV & and that Radio guy
Our bio: Sabki khabar lete hain. Hindi mein
MT: Bank 1: Open account with us. We give 8.5% interest.
Bank 2: Open with us, we give 9%
Client: I see a conflict of interest
Rofl Indian @roflindian
MT: What Modi essentially wants to say is “India ko banana republic se republic banana padega”
BuzzFeed India @BuzzfeedIndia
Our bio: They launched their site for India. You won’t believe what happened next
All India Bakchod @AllIndiaBakchod
Their bio: We’re India’s foremost comedy podcast, we do sketches on YouTube and stand up comedy
Keh Ke Peheno @coolfunnytshirt
MT: In India, sound is measured in ‘arnabs’, laughter in ‘sidhus’ & silence in ‘manmohans’
Our bio: A whole bunch of silly jokes to get you through the day
Overrated Outcast @over_rated
Their bio: Writer frothing all over the twitters
Their bio: Indian stories worth sharing
Our bio: Fun stories, lists and crazy news from India
Amreekan Desi @amreekandesi
MT: In UP, it’s a bullet train when you get on without a ticket and threaten to pump bullets into anyone who has a problem
Our bio: Quick and dirty takes on the world today
S S Sodhi @simpoosir
MT: Ab ki baar, No Sardar. #YussYuss
Sir Ravindra Jadeja @SirJadeja
MT: If Both Teams Draw After Extra Time Also, They Should Be Shown ‘Humshakals’. The Team Who Survives, Wins
The Comic Project @thecomicproject
MT: It’s fun to listen to English commentators’ bias against Argentina like it’s their revenge for Maradona’s hand of god
Sorabh Pant @hankypanty
MT: Sheila Dixit had 31 A/Cs? Now we know why Delhiites needs Power Generators – all the power that’s generated is used by the people in power!
Our bio: All witty hoardings in one place, so you don’t have to drive around to see them
Gaurav (Yellow) @bwoyblunder
Their bio: Overrated Overhated OverAted. Avid Ignorer of Blogs
Their bio: I used to be funny and then twitter happened
Mahatma Aladdin @Alllahdin
Our bio: The Tweeple who see Twitter as a sarcastic, sycophantic, (pseudo)secularistic platform
This guy, zabardasti @AskThePankazzzz
MT: Love them. Obsess. Get used to. Get bored. Move on. Find ‘em after a long time. Realise what you’ve been missing. People are much like songs
Utsav Chakraborty @SatanBhagat
MT: Only in India can an “Abey homo!” slur be followed by a “Salman ka uss picture mein ekdum mast body dekha kya?”
Faadu Tweets @FaaduTweets
MT: #Emo is when one can’t resist feelings of the heart.
#Eno is when one can’t resist feelings of the stomach
MT: What’s the difference between chicken momos and chicken dim-sum? About 300 rupees
They read the headlines you miss. They decode the stats you don’t understand. They find (and retweet) the untold tales of India, where everything changes even as it remains the same.
The Better India @thebetterindia
Their bio: Positive News. Happy Stories. Unsung Heroes
Amba Azaad @AmbaAzaad
Their bio: As the crow bites. Books, #sangeet, queerness, #nritya, Zamunda, #natya, feminism, #EthicalLeering, Dalit rights, #film Quotidian existenceof an #UrbanNayika
Faiza S Khan @BhopalHouse
Their bio: Critic/Script Doctor/Editor formerly at @RHIndia. Some writing in @tnr, @thedailybeast, @thecaravanindia ...
MT: Listen gently with an open mind not only to what they are sharing with you but what they choose to not share between those images and words
Their bio: Ayaz Memon, lawyer by qualification, journalist by profession... writes on cricket... and loads more
Their bio: Writer, The Wildings & The Hundred Names of Darkness | Columnist | Unabashed hedonist, aspiring sybarite
Their bio: Punchy political commentary from India and S Asia
Their bio: Imagining equality: a crowdsourced hub on gender from India, with a new guest curator each week
Our bio: All the cricket news and real-time updates in one place
Gaysi Family @gaysifamily
Their bio: We iz Gay in the 2nd largest democratic country in the world. Or so they say!
Nishita Jha @NishSwish
Our bio: Great links to stories concerning gender equality, even the ones that the mainstream media sometimes misses
The Ladies Finger @theladiesfinger
Their bio: A women’s zine. We do vaanthi. We like kranti. We write what we want to read
Sidin Vadukut @sidin
Our bio: Vadukut keeps changing his name, but his tweets are always cleverly crafted, timely and well observed
Nigel Britto @NigelBritto
Their bio: Goan, law student, journalist. #ForzaItalia. I believe in peace & love, and in whooping the a** of anyone who doesn’t
SEMI BULLET BRUMBY @brownbrumby
Their bio: Tweets about Indian politics & society | Centre-Left | Some RTs are endorsements
Salil Tripathi @saliltripathi
Our bio: Tweets on reservations, writing tips, gutkha, genetic modification and everything else
Bibek Debroy @bibekdebroy
Our bio: The economist holds forth on everything from politics to Pink Floyd and mythology to erotica
Dhaakad Tau @Bawli_Booch
Our bio: Tau posts in Hindi and English, usually about the state of the nation, and responses to world events and breaking news
Our bio: The show has ended but the focus on national issues continues. Sorry fans, Aamir Khan will not reply to your fan mail here
Kavita Krishnan @kavita_krishnan
Our bio: The feisty and articulate feminist’s tweets are about more than the gender debate
MT: Four world cup matches, a Wimbledon final, a formula one race. one minute silence for non-sports twitter users this weekend
Our bio: A news aggregator that looks for India-related coverage from the country and beyond
Hindustan Times @htTweets
Their bio: One of India’s largest media companies. Latest news from around the world. Retweets are not endorsements
The ones who love photography, history and photographs from historyHow do you fit a thousand words into 140 characters? Simple, tweet a picture. How do you make the present more relevant? You connect it to the past. We love how these accounts brighten up our timelines with sepia and flash back to help us move forward.
Our bio: Classic and contemporary images of the city, with a focus on architecture and local structures
ChaiWallahs of India @thechaiwallahs
Their bio: Writing on and photographing India’s diversity through the chai wallah’s lens
Their bio: World’s first Online Narrative based Visual Archive. Tracing a personal history of the Indian Subcontinent through Family archives. Send in yours now
Our bio: Proving that rural India is as complex and compelling as the city
Our bio: Rethink your notions of tradition, permissiveness and Indianness with pics from the past
Mumbai Heritage @mumbaiheritage
Our bio: The city looks emptier, quieter cleaner in every image on this account
Their bio: An Archive of 150 Years (1840 - 1989) – Old Historical Vintage Photos/Images of Pakistan, Indian Subcontinent and Muslim World!
Indian History Pics @HistoryInImages
Our bio: Old currency, the 1960 elections, Neil Armstrong in India, Sonia Gandhi in Moscow, all captured in black-and-white images
Their bio: Bringing back India’s glorious past with all its twists and quirks, one tweet at a time
The Bombay Saga @TheBombaySaga
Our bio: Wonderful old photos from Bollywood on the sets and off them
Virasat Pune @VirasatPune
Their bio: Celebrating the glorious history of Pune! A People’s Movement for Heritage & Culture
Delhi Heritage @DelhiHeritage
Our bio: Old and new images of the capital, covering some 1300+ monuments, 15 dynasties and 100+ kings. Presented by the Delhi Heritage Photography Club
Mumbai Meri Jaan @ZillionGallery
Their bio: A photography contest for everybody and anybody! The subject: Mumbai, Send in a photograph of Mumbai through your eyes using #MumbaiMeriJaan The #MumbaiMeriJaan contest will be judged by @atulkasbekar
Matthew Ward @HistoryNeedsYou
Their bio: Historian, edutainer & broadcaster, bringing #history to life
Beth Loves Bollywood @bethlovesbolly
Our bio: Clips, views, chatter and lots of love for filmi ishtyle
Review Schview @reviewschview
Their bio: Collated critic reviews and ratings of Hindi movies
Bollywood Gandu @BollywoodGandu
Our bio: Reviews, gossip and one-line takedowns of films
Farah Khan @TheFarahKhan
Their bio: Film Director, Choreographer, Producer, now Actress & proud Mother of Triplets
Alok Nath @aloknath
Our bio: The sanskari man gets traditional on Twitter
Kamaal R Khan KRK @kamaalrkhan
Our bio: Flop actor turned hit panga taker. Sachchi!
Amitabh Bachchan @SrBachchan
Their bio: Actor ... well at least some are STILL saying so !!
Our bio: Sorry, India, PC is having a better time than you, any time of the day
Sonam Kapoor @sonamakapoor
MT: Fed up of bad service with 7star cable and internet. Cannot believe I live in the 21st century!
Farhan Akhtar @FarOutAkhtar
Our bio: The actor/director has a pretty honest feed: scenes from his day, his views and his beliefs
Swara Bhaskar @ReallySwara
Our bio: Tweets about current affairs, history and poetry. Shows she’s not a Bollywood airhead
taran adarsh @taran_adarsh
Our bio: The film critic and analyst has the sharpest, smartest views about the box office
SHAH RUKH KHAN @iamsrk
Our bio: A great window into the busy life of the King
Salman Khan @BeingSalmanKhan
Our bio: Khan’s tweets are the asli deal. How do we know? Because they are unedited, unfettered, even ungrammatical
The local heroes
Mumbaikars, where would you be without these guys? They keep track of traffic, list the cool events, tell you where to eat and drink, rediscover forgotten bylanes and will even help you find someone who’ll wants your extra ticket for today’s Kieslowski film at Russian Centre
brown paper bag @bpbmumbai
Their bio: The Secret Scouters of cool bring you the best of Mumbai (eat/shop/do) !
Our bio: The nicest guy on anyone’s timeline, spends Sunday mornings treating street dogs. Also tweets about food and local finds
Mumbai Candid @MumbaiCandid
Their bio: Events, new openings, contests and lots of interesting updates!
Our bio: Photos, events, requests, hawkers, stats and all the things that make up your day in Mumbai
Our bio: They keep track of the contests running on Twitter so you never miss a chance to win (or lose!)
Bombay Barhoppers @BombayBarhopper
Their bio: Barhopping Saturdays with @Bacardidevi @hackiechan @OneChilledBeer
Traffline Mumbai @TrafflineMUM
Our bio: Real time traffic updates for the jam-averse
inTown Bombay @InTownBOM
Their bio: Find something to do in Bombay!
Our bio: A handle with a new curator every week so your timeline stays fresh
The lovers of literaure and poetry
Didn’t think Twitter was a place for great works to be created or celebrated? These accounts may change your mind.
Terribly Tiny Tales @terriblytiny
Their bio: Initiated by the storytelling agency Not Like That. One tweet-sized tale, every day
Kanika Parab @Kahanibythekilo
Their bio: It will be the shortest you’ve seen, she swore, ironing a red mini. He smiled, thinking of the 140-character story he’d just read
Their bio: Sampooran Singh Kalra known popularly by his pen name Gulzar. Arguably the best poet and lyricist in India. A tribute account
JLF Insider @JLFInsider
Their bio: Live tweets from the Jaipur Literature Festival where you can hear some of the brightest minds on the planet, and Suhel Seth
Our bio: A handle dedicated to the thought-provoking poetry of the great Persian poet, Rumi. Their tweets are short and easy to comprehend. Yay for that
Their bio: Jagjit Singh was a prominent Indian Ghazal singer. (08-02-1941 to 10-10-2011) Popularly known as The Ghazal King. His Ghazals and Life recalled in tweets
Mirza Ghalib @GhalibPoetry
Our bio: A tribute to Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan Ghalib. His couplets have been turned into sweet tweets
Our bio: A great place to find Urdu and Hindi shayari, poetry and ghazals. They’ll retweet great lines from you too
Our bio: A string of nazms and shers in Urdu, Devanagri and Roman script. You might have to call on a translator though
Innovation from India is being embraced around the world: Rishi Jaitly
Rishi Jaitly, Twitter’s India market director, on watching and learning from a nation of tweeters
Q. What are so many of us doing on Twitter, anyway?
A. Twitter’s had a great year in India. We’ve been at the heart of the country’s biggest moments, especially in politics and sports. One of the biggest moves for India is that people have gone on Twitter to strengthen their own opinion.
Users come to the site for three things: to keep up with their world (they are primarily consumers of content), to connect with people they know and don’t know, and to express themselves. But a good 40 per cent of our active users are not producers of content. They’re just listeners – they come to check on what’s going on.
Q. What are we doing that’s so different from the rest of the world?
A. Indians are connecting in unique, elective and diverse ways. Of course they’re discussing news, cricket and films, but they’re seeing Twitter as utility. For most Indian users, the mobile phone is the first device [to access Twitter] and 90 per cent of Indian cellphone users are on a prepaid account – so they like the idea of ‘tweet something to get something’.
People have taken to ideas like sending a missed call to receive tweets from a political party or a candidate. My grandmother in Nagpur used Twitter to sign up for SMS updates from a news channel she loves – and she doesn’t even know what Twitter is!
We’ve really got a holistic connect between two different spheres: Twitter and television. Our evening timelines are dominated by television. And with the World Cup, we’re watching the match together on the world’s biggest sofa.
And of course, we love comedy. I believe Twitter has changed comedy in India. I meet comics who tell me that a tweet’s space constraints have made them better writers and given them more followers.
Q. What can Indians teach (and learn from) the world about Twitter?
A. A lot of innovation has been coming out from India and is being embraced around the world, especially the idea of Twitter as a utility. During the elections, Indians could send a tweet to a newspaper to know the polling date and [booth] location in their city. We’re planning something similar in the UK and Egypt.
As for what Indians can learn, the biggest opportunity is to embrace the first-person voice. People do better than organisations on Twitter because it’s a mobile and personal platform and it really pays to have a humanised connection. Rashtrapati Bhavan posted a picture of the puddles outside when it rained. Only on Twitter can Oreo and Kit-Kat have a conversation and play tic tac toe, or ambassadors of different countries make fun of each other before a match. It’s what Indian users will really benefit from.
– Interviewed by Rachel Lopez