Remember when in the December of 2013, an over-speeding Aston Martin Rapide, owned by Reliance Ports, met with an accident in Mumbai crashing into an Audi Saloon and a Toyota Corolla around midnight? And how a Reliance spokesperson maintained that the car was being driven by a company driver at the time even as multiple witnesses asserted that the driver was actually a young clean-shaven man and not the middle-aged moustached driver that offered himself at the police station a day after the accident and claimed responsibility? The insinuations were clear then. And, they are clear now.
Back then, most of the media houses had shied away from reporting the incident allegedly involving Mukesh Ambani’s elder son, Akash. The Hindustan Times had reported the incident without mentioning Reliance Industries only to take take down the story from their website a couple of days later. The Times of India had followed suit and quite predictably most of the TV channels were just too happy to ignore the story.
This time around, there’s been no hit and run, mercifully.
On Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited’s 40th anniversary, the Ambanis accommodated a gala affair, where the young buds of India’s richest family took the stage to give the world a peek into the future of the company. And, that’s when disaster struck.
All of 22, the youngest scion of the Reliance powerhouse, Anant Ambani, ended up giving Indian social media users their “first viral meme of 2018” with a performance that was…well, spirited – to say the least – thorough with air punches to emphasise his devoutness towards the “Reliance Parivar”.
Needles to say, netizens picked his speech apart and revelled in his animated style of speaking, creating some of the most hilarious memes in history. Following suit, a few Pop culture sites that curate viral content decided to run the “trending story” oblivious of the quick death these viral stories were destined to encounter. Right from ScoopWhoop to MensXp from the Times Group had to quietly take them down without so much of an explanation.
What more, even India Today group’s DailyO – that had initially mocked other sites for taking down their stories – backslid to an “editorial decision” for pulling down its own content. Storypick, however, tried to save face by claiming: “Our story was based on a tweet that claimed that Anant Ambani was suffering from an ailment and hence the peculiar speaking habit. Our staff author didn’t realise that the tweet was from a comic account and in fact was a sarcastic jab. When we realised the mistake, we pulled down the article for obvious reasons; to not spread fake news. No one has forced us to pull down the article.”
In totality, eight articles – that had even faintly attempted a dig at the Ambani scion – have been pulled down so far. While we are not suggesting a probable squeeze on behalf of the Reliance group – given this isn’t the first time the Indian media has decided to censor itself while reporting about the Ambanis – we do know when to drop the curtain and how: “Thou Shalt Not Mock Anant Ambani!”