The man, the memes: How Internet sensation Orry became a symbol of anti-'hustle culture'

What the rise of internet sensation Orhan Awatramani says about the dynamics of Indian Celebrity culture and audience preferences

By Yasser Usman

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Published: Fri 5 Jan 2024, 6:31 PM

Last updated: Fri 5 Jan 2024, 7:06 PM

Ah, 2023! A year where the Internet churned out trends, celebrity buzz, and the occasional viral phenomenon that refused to be forgotten. A year where Bollywood’s Zeenat Aman waltzed onto Instagram, Indian businesswoman Jasmeen Kaur’s “so beautiful, so elegant” mantra became our collective inner monologue, and then there was Orry, the internet's sphinx, leaving us all strangely captivated. He became the face that conquered our feeds and had us all channelling our inner detectives, trying to crack the code of “Ye Orry Orry kya hai, ye Orry Orry?” (What is this ‘Orry’?)

You may have witnessed his recent appearances and interviews, but I'm particularly intrigued by his rise, especially because the allure of Orry lies in his very lack of definition. Unlike traditional celebrities with established talents or achievements, he presents a blank canvas, inviting everyone to project their own interpretations. This sudden ubiquity of Orry, despite his lack of discernible achievement, presents a fascinating case study in the evolving dynamics of Indian celebrity culture. His rise invites us to question the criteria we use to bestow fame and examine the impact of our relentless thirst for online validation. In this light, isn’t Orry a reflection of our aspirational desires, a critique of our superficiality?

Orry or Orhan Awatramani, defies classification. An ‘internet personality’, Google declares, a label as cryptic as his smile. His day job? A state secret. His claim to fame? A carefully curated Instagram feed, a reality show in its own right, where he tangoes with A-listers and bathes in paparazzi flashes with established celebrities like Salman Khan, Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt, Janhvi Kapoor and Karan Johar. Exactly what role does Orry play in their opulent drama? What does he do, this man who dances with constellations but casts no light of his own?

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In his own words — he is a ‘liver’ who loves to live life. What enchanting charm bestows Orry with such incredible access to celebrities? Some speculate that he attended elite schools alongside filmstars’ children. Others suggest he serves as the go-to person for star kids encountering social media, PR and marketing issues. While these factors hold merit, they don't seem to wholly explain his prominence among those who typically prefer to socialise exclusively within their own circles.

He’s also labelled as the Indian version of Kim Kardashian who built a career and a fortune by just being viral. However, like Kim or Kanye, Orry isn't a reality TV star or a creator of manufactured controversies—at least, not yet. A Mumbai fashion designer cheekily told me that Orry’s the ‘elite version’ of Rakhi Sawant and the key difference lies in their positioning. Rakhi’s persona thrived on defying expectations and challenging middle-class societal norms. Orry, on the other hand, seeks to infiltrate the inner circle of Bollywood elites, often appearing alongside industry heavyweights. Orry presents himself as a Master of Marketing. “I am working, but I am working on myself,” he asserts. He believes his incredible network is not the only reason of his rise, “Otherwise, any celebrity’s best friend could be where I am.”

Interestingly, Orry’s triumph could also signify a democratisation of fame. Historically, access to fame was dictated by Bollywood and media. However, Orry, through sheer social media savvy and personal connections, bypassed these gatekeepers, directly connecting with the audience and carving his own path to recognition through social media platforms. This challenges established power structures, suggesting that anyone armed with the right tools and online presence could potentially carve out their own space in the spotlight. More importantly, Orry embodies a lifestyle our aspirational generation craves: luxury, travel, and constant attention. So, does his rise reflect that a yearning for a glamorous life we might believe is within reach through social media? Or does it spark a sense of disillusionment? Orry is like a social experiment, poking fun at the absurdity of our celebrity obsession.

As much as I find him amusing, I struggle to decipher the root of his celebrity status. Perhaps this generation is finding his nonchalance revolutionary. He manages to be relevant, seen with the who's who, while nonchalantly “working on himself”. This is, of course, jarring. Our curated feeds are flooded with aspirational stories, accounts of tireless endeavour and continuous success. Witnessing someone openly embrace non-productivity, free from the pressure to constantly produce, creates a sharp contrast. An ‘Anti-Hustle’ who excels in the ‘art of doing nothing’. Perhaps for Gen Z, that's a rebellion worth celebrating.

Perhaps, beyond the glamour and gossip, Orry’s narrative prompts introspection about our perception of fame: What defines it, and why does it hold such significance? His future trajectory, and how he navigates his fame, might craft an engaging tale. Will he become a savvy player in the influencer game, or simply fade away like a fleeting Internet trend? Time will reveal the answer.

But his ascent definitely raises several intriguing questions about the values we prioritise and the messages we send when we celebrate such figures. Orry’s story is still unfolding but he is the question mark in a designer label, a puzzle we're all trying to solve, a reflection staring back at us from the pixilated mirror of our digital age. And perhaps, in the end, it is not Orry who holds the mirror, but we, the spectators, forced to confront the truths reflected back at us in his cryptic smile.

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