2023 was the year of Orry: Decoding why the internet loves Orhan Awatramani | Bollywood

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2023 was the year when everyone from Karan Johar to my long-lost friends posed the question, “Who is Orry?” The next one in line was, “What does Orry do?” It’s the end of the year and we still don’t know anything more than exactly what Orry aka Orhan Awatramani wanted us to: “He’s a liver. He lives.” Well, I want that on a T-shirt. Oh wait, the T-shirt already exists. That’s the Orry machinery for you: It’s snappy, shallow philosophy instantly embossed on bright colours. Basically, it’s everything that Instagram stands for today.

Orry aka Orhan Awatramani
Orry aka Orhan Awatramani

(Also Read – Orhan ‘Orry’ Awatramani: I don’t see any shame in calling the paps, if I’m looking good, I want to be photographed)

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Orry origins

Orry has maintained his primary identity as not who he is, but who he’s seen with. He wasn’t the one who was spotted in Nysa Devgan and Khushi/Janhvi Kapoor’s vacation pictures, but they were spotted in his. He found his way to our Instagram feeds through his Stories that were reposted by his famous friends. His Instagram bio never reflected the qualification that allowed him access to the inner sanctum of Bollywood. In fact, his current bio seems more like a backhanded compliment to the nepo babies in his followers list: “Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.”

Speaking of working hard, Orry does work hard – on himself. Orry has a new comeback to every time he’s asked what he does for a living. In an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, he traced back to the “ahan moment” when Shanaya Kapoor shamed him for disturbing her while she was shooting her debut film. Orry argued that he was also working, even if his Instagram Stories suggested otherwise. “Yes, she is on set, she is acting, she’s an actor. I am living, I am a liver.”

Orry took one for all of us who have been shamed for posting too many Instagram Stories of partying and socialising. But the fact that he has managed to conceal his occupation so far despite the information overload out there is commendable. He’s also kept his education background under wraps, though a little birdie tells me he’s graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York. He may insist that he’s from the ‘school of life’ and ‘experience’ has been education, these rather lame dodges actually help him – people take him seriously for who he’s with, but not too seriously as to shame him for his lifestyle.

Not your nepo baby

If there’s one constant thread that runs through the company Orry keeps – all of them have grown up in Mumbai. Most of them are second-generation Bollywood star kids who he’s gone to school with. The ones not from film families, like Bhumi Pednekar and Kiara Advani, have been his friends via association – he is friends Bhumi’s younger sister Samiksha and his elder brother Kabir was friends with Kiara. Basically, he’s slowly and surely expanded his friends circle and made sure he announces it to the world.

Yet he’s successfully managed to evade the nepotism finger-wagging, despite evidently having generational wealth in his favour. Firstly, he represents the guilty pleasure of Page-3 enthusiasts who may love to hate on nepo babies, but can’t get enough of their aspirational lifestyle. Orry became the window to their gossip-craving world, without the baggage of having a celebrity name attached to his lineage. Secondly, since his exact occupation remains a mystery, one can’t claim that like the other nepo babies, Orry has bagged a sought-after job because of his connections. It allows him to flash his friends unabashedly.

Friends close to Orry tell me that with the spike in his popularity, he has briefed them not to disclose what he actually does for a living. If asked, they pass on the platitudes that Orry would have dished out if quizzed the same way. For instance, when Karan Johar asked Ananya Panday on Koffee with Karan, “Who is Orry?”, she said, posing like a thinking lady, “He’s known, but misunderstood.” And Karan was all of us when he responded, “But that’s not an occupation!” Orry’s appeal lies in this contradiction: He’s all over the place yet no one knows who he really is. That’s a sweet spot only a few can strike in the age of overexposure and short-lived attention spans.

The Orry arsenal

Over the past few months, Orry has cultivated a personality of his own, particularly since his appearance on Bigg Boss 17. When he tells someone in the house that he doesn’t know that the ICC World Cup is on, he feeds into the perception that the Gen-Z aren’t well-equipped with general knowledge or current affairs. It’s the same clueless appeal that made Alia Bhatt the darling of the internet after her President of India gaffe. Orry has consciously and consistently offered himself to the meme makers who shape pop culture as widely as Instagram Reels.

As is symptomatic of his generation, Orry doesn’t want to be defined or judged, even though he seeks constant validation. He wants to have a say on everything, but doesn’t want to be quizzed on how much knowledge he can store within. For this generation, information is a tap away, so why bother cramming it up? They would rather invest the time in the how of things, instead of the what. That’s why it doesn’t jar when Orry shows up for The Archies premiere, wearing an outfit with Pokemons peppered all over. We’re feeling ‘90s kid nostalgia here, the specifics don’t matter. Wearing an Archies T-shirt to The Archies premiere is so Shah Rukh Khan. Orry would rather sprinkle ’90s anime all over him in order to stand out yet not stick out.

Orry has not only pushed the envelope (off the edge of the hill into a ditch) in terms of his personal style, but also informed the fashion of his followers at large. On Salman Khan’s birthday on Wednesday, Orry introduced a new line of T-shirts in which he’s seen striking his signature pose with Bhaijaan from the Bigg Boss sets. T-shirts screaming “I’m a liver” and “Who is Orry?” are also being marketed as hot cakes. His machinery is churning out tangible products from his intangible presence at the speed of 3 am doomscrolling. Orry’s trademark pose may be meme gold or even a Snapchat filter, but symbolically, it stands for assertion of access, intimacy, and ownership – on everyone from Kareena Kapoor to Neeta Ambani.

Orry’s Kryptonite

An accurate way to assess Orry’s breakthough is by comparing it to that of his predecessor, Uorfi Javed. She made the netizens pause endless scrolling and take notice of her through DIY costumes with extremely high shock value. It’s only when she talked about her backstory – of coming from a conventional Muslim family and emerging into a self-made woman – that commenced her downfall. As much as she was lauded for her struggles, Uorfi couldn’t retain the enigma that made her break out in the first place.

Orry is a paparazzi favourite too, but he’s remained talkatively elusive in all his interviews. Like the generation he comes from, he shields his actual personality through deceptively philosophical quotes as if mined from a Google search. Unlike the OG internet sensation Rakhi Sawant, he has distanced himself from controversies. His was the most kalesh-free appearance in the history of Bigg Boss. He was more of a meme than a wild card entry on the reality show.

It’s only very recently that he jumped onto the Reddit bandwagon and conducted a rather revealing Ask Me Anything session. Spilling some hot tea on Suhana Khan, Sara Ali Khan, and Shruti Haasan, Orry put his social capital on the line for some quick clicks. It may get him embroiled in controversy, but history would tell Orry that’s not the rabbit hole he wants to go down. The only reason Orry has remained relevant is, ironically, because he’s steered clear of controversy or public inclination to take him seriously. As soon as he stops being a meme, Orry would go back to being Orhan Awatramani. Now, who’s interested in that guy?

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