Don’t try this at home’. Any one who grew up in India in the 90s remembers this phrase splashed across the screen every time a wrestler choke-slammed another, executed a piledriver or rammed the People’s Elbow down. World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has been nothing short of a cultural phenomenon for an entire generation of Indian fans. And now, a group of friends, in suburban Mumbai — Bhayandar — are taking their love for the popular show to the next level, by creating their own WWE videos and starring in it too. One can gauge their dedication from the fact that the boys have an entire YouTube channel — called Angaar TV — dedicated to document their choreographed fights.
The modus operandi, explains Suraj Jha, one of the creators of Angaar, is that the group borrows commentary from existing WWE shows and then wrestles with this playing in the background. “It’s our passion for the sport. We grew up watching it,” explains 21-year-old Jha.
Angaar TV has more than 15 videos that show the boys wrestling and performing signature moves on each other, some of which have been viewed over five lakh times. The videos are shot in alleyways, building compounds and terraces, with the society’s residents and neighbourhood kids filling in as viewers. The videos recently became popular with international wrestling fan websites and Facebook pages of the wrestling communities across the world.
One pertinent question posed at the participants all the time is — how safe is it?
Jha, a hardened John Cena fan, claims that these moves are practiced well beforehand and are safe. “We don’t wake up one morning with the idea of making a video,” he says. “We choose videos that work with our storyline, learn moves from YouTube, practise for a week or two before getting down to business.” But what about the ‘don’t try this at home’ disclaimer? Jha sighs as he explains that all the seasoned wrestlers in the business started somewhere. Besides, “There are buffers made of wooden planks, bed-sheets and pillows littered around the ring. Just putting the props together and making them safe costs us about Rs 5,000.”
The boys have also ensured that their friendly neighbourhood doctor, Pandeyji, presides over the shoot to provide for first-aid. “We know the location of the hospitals around us too but thankfully there have never been any injuries with our shoots yet,” Jha says.
One look at the videos and it becomes obvious why the stunts need supervising. The average age of the boys is about 19 years and there are some who aren’t even adults yet. “Our parents have been mainly supportive of our acts because they trust us to remain safe while we perform the moves. The society’s chairman is the only one averse to us making these videos. But the rest of the residents are becoming cooler about it, thanks to our popularity recently,” Jha beams.
The only problem that they face right now is time constraint. A bunch of them are caught up with college lectures while a few others like Jha and Rohit Vishwakarma, a wrestler and the resident editor of Angaar TV, are busy looking for jobs after recently graduating from college.
The overlapping timings and lack of coordination occasionally means that the boys have to interchange the roles of the wrestlers that they usually essay. Jha laughs as he recounts an incident where, Honey, one of the boys got caught cross-dressing for a ‘Diva’ match video by his angry mother.
In between bouts of laughter he tells us that Honey, wearing a sari and a wig was chased around by his mother around the society premises. Angaar TV has a couple of videos up, where the boys dress up for the Diva matches, to include stunts performed by the underrated world of women’s wrestling. “We don’t have girlfriends who will help us in these stunts, you know,” Jha smirks, referring to Joe Weller’s finisher videos, where he performs signature wrestler moves on his partner.
Ask Jha if any of the boys would like to take up wrestling professionally, and pat comes the answer. “Of course. I hope Vince McMahon (WWE’s CEO) is reading about us.