In Delhi, which Jasmeen Kaur calls home, hyperbole is part of everyday conversation. So why has it gone viral?
Weeks before content creator Jasmeen Kaur’s “So beautiful, so elegant, just looking like a wow!” went viral, I had DMed one of her Reels to a friend saying “This is so Lajpat Nagar”, a reference to the south Delhi locality I live in. The video, like most others on Jasmeen’s feed, showed her in a west Delhi store, selling traditional women’s clothes in bright colours like “jamuni” purple, “ghiya” green, “pyaaz” pink and “laddoo” yellow.
Her enthusiastic tone and choice of superlatives have captivated people across the world, from celebrities like Nick Jonas and Deepika Padukone to content creators, but didn’t come as a surprise to me. For, I grew up in a Delhi where hyperbole is part of daily conversation.
So why has Jasmeen’s OTT style of addressing her audience become the latest viral trend? A colleague in Mumbai says her content is “entertaining”. An economics professor in Bengaluru finds it “cringey but addictive”. A homemaker in north Delhi, one of Jasmeen’s 681,000 Instagram followers, who has been watching her videos for the past three years, believes the entrepreneur’s “marketing skills and confidence are inspiring”. The reasons for the appeal of “So beautiful, so elegant, just looking like a wow!” might differ, but they show anything can go viral, even if it’s a way of communicating that has existed for long but has somehow only now managed to attract social media algorithms.
Perhaps it also offers a peek into a part of Delhi not everyone is familiar with. Both Lajpat Nagar and west Delhi’s Tilak Nagar, the location of Jasmeen’s shop, share something in common: a sizeable population of Sikhs and Punjabis, many of whom settled here as refugees after Partition. They like to wear their heart on their sleeve. Much like my family.
Stroll around any of the open markets in these localities and you will hear at least one shopkeeper shouting for the customer’s attention: “Aao dekho, sundar-sundar shaadi ke suit (come, see and buy pretty wedding clothes).” If you go in, the salesperson likely will describe a moss green garment with adjectives like “kai rang” or an orange one as “santari”.
In one of the lanes, you might overhear a local tailor calling one of his longstanding clients a “jahaj” (ship) for not fitting into her newly stitched clothes. The counter response won’t be a long Twitter thread on fat-shaming, but a simple “tussi bhi apne aap ko control nahi kar rahe ho (you too are not controlling your diet)”. In this in-your-face Delhi, warmth and exaggeration have existed in equal measure for decades.
But we live in a world hungry for trends. New hashtags are born every day. One day, #grandpacore tells you to layer up, the next day, #normalcore reminds you to stick to the basics.
“Honestly, it’s a normal piece of content,” says Ashutosh Harbola, founder of the influencer marketing company Buzzoka, which works with over 100,000 content creators and 150 brands. “There’s no one reason or some sure-shot recipe to make content viral. In today’s social media world, there’s no such thing as great content or bad content. Generally, what happens is first 100 people like your content and amplify it (through DMs, shares, likes), then a famous content creator picks it up or a celebrity uses it in their post, and then brands validate the trend by collaborating with the person.”
Jasmeen Kaur’s famous line might soon fade into irrelevance, becoming a has-been meme, but it would have played its role in making the world aware of a Delhi that was always there but wasn’t known beyond its borders.