Syria is not the first place that comes to mind when you think of Bollywood. However, in a Syrian town called Qamishli, a 15-year-old’s ardent worship of two Hindi movie stars – Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh – has manifested itself in creative ways.
The Indian film industry hardly has any presence in the country, but that hasn’t stopped Shilan Lazgin from writing “Actorfic” about the celebrity couple. Actorfic, for the uninitiated, is an offshoot of the popular online storytelling device called Fan Fiction. Shilan uses film references and true incidents as backdrop for her stories. One story is called ‘After Befikre’, written in context of the screening of Ranveer’s recent release Befikre. The screening was attended by Deepika, his girlfriend.
An excerpt reads like this:
When I reached there, everyone was already there and luckily no media. It was just a small private screening for Ranveer’s film that was just held for family and friends at the YRF Studios. I looked around then saw Ritika. Me and Ritika have become really close friends. I tapped on her shoulder and she turned around surprised.
“Deepika!” She hugged me, “Hey, how are you?”
“I’m glad Ri, how are you?”
“Great!” We chatted for a bit. Then I said hi to the rest of the family and Ranveer’s best friend Nafraz, but I still haven’t seen my baby.
You can read the entire story here.
Writing fanfiction is a common phenomenon in the West. Blockbuster franchises like the Harry Potter series, the Star Wars saga, and DC and Marvel hits have all spawned forums where superfans extensively imagine stories with the characters from those respective universes. One of the most popular examples of this is FanFiction.net, where a search for the characters you want to read about will bring up at least 30 different stories.
As per an article on FFN Research, FanFiction.Net is the largest hub for fan fiction writing communities. The website boasts of the largest archive of fan fiction with an excess of 6,600,000 registered titles as of March, 2011. In addition, as a website, it also challenges Facebook in terms of the amount of time people spend browsing within the domain.
Another article on thejournal.ie reveals that fan fiction is not exclusive to the English-speaking world. According to its data, Harry Potter fan fiction can be found in Hindi, Russian, Japanese and even in the made-up language of Parseltongue (a term used to describe the language of serpents in the Harry Potter universe).
At the end of the original series, Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley get married and have three children. But there are fans of the books who have written about the possibility of Harry and his Hogwarts arch rival Draco Malfoy getting together. They have a melded couple name too, a la Brangelina, called Drarry.
Read one of the Drarry stories here.
Actorfic, unlike most fan fiction though, involves actual performers who play famous characters. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender’s indelible chemistry as Professor X and Magneto in the X-Men series resulted in plenty of erotic fan art and writing. So did Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, at the height of their coupling.
Among Indian stars, it’s Deepika and Ranveer who seem to have sparked the fans’ creativity. They are popularly referred to by the fanfic community as Deepveer.
In a Twitter conversation, Shilan revealed that most Syrians have limited access to Bollywood. They have heard of Shah Rukh Khan. She has also watched Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor’s Kurbaan, but it was Deepika and Ranveer’s chemistry that inspired her.
"DeepVeer are my favourite couple and actors. I write stories about them for fun. It would be nice to meet them,” she says. Her stories tend to be about conversations between the two actors as a couple. Is it not a strange pursuit? No, she says. On the contrary, Shilan believes this is her way of expressing love. Apart from writing fanfiction, she also runs a DeepVeer fan account on Instagram which has 140k followers.
In the Indian subcontinent (including Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal), Ranveer and Deepika are a fanfiction favourite, mostly due to their electrifying chemistry in Ram-Leela.
Shruthi Subiksha Lakshmanan, who is studying to be a chartered accountant from Chennai, is a regular contributor to this world. Like Shilan, she also decided to write fanfiction for Deepika and Ranveer after watching the Sanjay Leela Bhansali film.
“It’s not strange if you view this from the perspective of a person who feels genuinely happy to see them together. It’s just a hobby and as long it entertains people it’s never strange,” she says. “It might seem weird to Deepika and Ranveer, perhaps going by how Ranveer answered Anupama Chopra when she read out a paragraph from some random fanfiction, but we do all this because we love them.”
Passionate Deepveerians communicate with each other regularly. They make photoshop edits, create videos and of course, write stories. According to Shruthi, “All of us fangirls shower them with love. It’s more like a social service to myself and fellow Deepveerians, when we never get public appearances for long periods of time or when there are break-up rumours. There are some who bombard their mentions with, ‘Break up with him/her, you deserve better.’”
As per an article on FFN Research, FanFiction.Net is the largest hub for fan fiction writing communities. The website boasts of the largest archive of fan fiction with an excess of 6,600,000 registered titles as of March, 2011.
A fan from Dhaka who writes under the pen name Ahona reveals she often creates stories from real incidents in Deepika and Ranveer’s life. “They are just stories, part of imagination. Sometimes they’re taken from a real event that happened to them and sometimes, they have no connection to their lives at all,” she says.
In her story, ‘Famous for Faking Love’, Ahona writes about Ranveer and Deepika meeting at a Bollywood party and sparks flying. Anushka Sharma makes an appearance as well.
Here’s an excerpt:
Just as I was rethinking about the decisions I made, I felt a warm hand rest on my waist that was uncovered by the saree and soon I felt the warmth of his body.
It was him, Ranveer Singh, the current heartthrob of Bollywood.
You can read the entire story here.
Although Ahona discusses her stories with online friends, she does confess that many of her fan fiction writing buddies are uncomfortable with media attention. In fact, they routinely delete their stories in order to avoid them from reaching Deepika and Ranveer.
Others like Shruthi can’t see what’s the big problem. She says, “In one interview, during promotions for Bajirao Mastani, Deepika and Ranveer talked about receiving tweets about how people think they are cute together. Writing fan fiction is never intended to harm anyone’s emotions especially Deepveer’s.”
In this day and age, where online activity is, many times, the direct summation of a star’s impact, perhaps Deepika and Ranveer should be flattered that they have inspired such fevered love. To paraphrase Terry Pratchett, stories with imagination can only upset those sorely lacking in one.