It was January 2013. Rapidly running out of options, Aazar and I decided to use Instagram images for our online graphic novel Delhi Hectic. We were a bit unsure. Up till then Instagram was synonymous with pictures of hipsters, plates of food and cats. We weren’t sure if anyone would take us seriously. As we worked on chapter after chapter, we noticed something: people were liking and commenting on images on instagram itself. This was novel.
Even a few months previously, instagram pictures (now referred to as instagrams) only gained attention when they were shared on facebook or twitter. With comments moving to Instagram, the app was changing from being just a simple image manipulator to a platform for image sharing and discussion. The comments and likes were also coming from outside our networks. People who noticed our instagrams weren’t friends or even friends of friends. They were people who noticed the images because of their aesthetic or because of the hashtags that we had tagged the images with. We had discovered a new way of reaching out to a whole new audience.
On the face of it, this seems obvious. As smartphones become increasingly affordable, you would expect people to take images and then move them over to apps that would make them look prettier. Also, interacting with images is a lot easier: you don’t have to read them like text and you don’t have to give them time like videos. See it and like it. Or just move on. It’s that simple. I started sharing our instagram experiments with friends across the media industry. In March, it caught the attention of one Kavita Rajwade, Deputy General Manager-Brand Solutions at Sony Music. They were planning to launch a collaboration tour between stand-up comedy and music. They wanted to know if I would Instagram the tour. Who would say no to something like that?
On the 4th of September, I flew to Pune to instagram the first gig of the Bournville Not So Sweet Nights. It was an on-the-spot mash-up between All India Bakchod (a comic collective that’s been experimenting with live music on stage and now are now working with Youtube) and Tough on Tobacco, an alt-rock band from Mumbai. The performance was phenomenal. You don’t have to take my word for it; you can just see the instagrams from the show here. Not So Sweet Nights had their second gig in Bangalore on 11th September, which featured All India Bakchod with heavy metal band Scribe, and then one in Hyderabad also with Tough on Tobacco. They will now be following it up with gigs at Mumbai (26th Sept), Kolkata (3rd Oct) with the finale at Delhi (10th Oct). You can book tickets here. Check out a few of our instagrams from #NSSNights below: