Hyderabad: In the pre-COVID era, their business was to make people laugh. Post-pandemic, they try to bring smiles to the unknown sullen faces hiding behind the mask.
Welcome to the world of 'DPVEU', a meme page run by two Hyderabad movie content creators on Instagram and Twitter.
Nayani Anurag Reddy, 24, and Sachin Vikas, 29, have converted their page into an SOS helpline in a bid to reach out to people who lost jobs and need assistance.
`DPVEU' (Dis Page Vll Entertain U) has 99.6K followers on Instagram and 57.2K followers on Twitter. For the last one month, they have used this page to connect the needy to generous donors so that nobody goes hungry in Telugu speaking states.
The two content creators, who have done digital promotion and marketing for over fifty Tollywood movies, have so far helped 45 families from economically weaker sections.
To maintain transparency and win the confidence of the donors, they share details of every family that has received the assistance on their Twitter handle.
"These families are mostly from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Our intention was to help those families who are very hesitant to ask for help. There are many families who need help but due to societal norms, they can't ask for it. So when we got to know about such families, we promised that we cannot reveal their identity. We are delivering them groceries for the last one month," said Anurag Reddy.
The project was launched when the duo started receiving SOS messages from the people whose livelihood had been affected by the imposition of lockdown in the second wave.
These messages prompted them to start something for the people in distress. Therefore, they thought to use social media clout for humanitarian work.
Anurag, who is currently pursuing MBA at ICFAI Business School in Hyderabad said DPVEU' is the first-ever meme page in Telugu. "When the meme content started hogging the social media, there was only one page in the country and that too in Hindi. It was named RVCJ. There was not a single page dedicated to the Telugu audience. We started the first Telugu meme page. It is now nine years old," he said.
With a team of 10 content creators, the duo earlier used to spend only two to three hours running the page. However, after they started the relief work, they are devoting seven to eight hours to help the people.
During the first wave, they also donated some money for the PMCARE funds. When the second wave struck, people from the poorest background especially those who lost their livelihoods started sharing their pain. The plight of daily wagers and people from low-income groups made the duo think of ways to help them.
"As of date, we have helped 45 families. Helping one family takes around seven to eight hours per day. It takes time because we get flooded with lots of messages. Verifying messages takes time. We are hoping to cover fifty families. There were requests for food grains, groceries, household provisions, and other essentials. People were starving," said Sachin, who works as a technician with the Indian Air Force.
The duo have reached out to families living in different areas including Hyderabad, Mahbubnagar, Karimnagar, Warangal, Vizag, Kurnool, Kadappa, West Godavari, and East Godavari districts of both Telugu-speaking states.
"We are getting a lot of requests. We verify their requests and ask them to go to the nearest general store and purchase the goods. We verify the bill and the donor makes the online payment to the shopkeeper," Sachin said.
A couple of Tollywood actors have also helped some families but they wished to remain anonymous, said Anurag.