CNA documentary ‘Beyond the Viral Video’ explores the societal impact of digital virality, starting with TikTok

Photo credit: CNA

Before it was banned in India, mobile video platform, TikTok, commanded a huge following in the South Asian giant, with some 200 million active users. The app was so popular that it made Internet celebrities among some rural folks, who showcased their talents through the app.

One example is 23-year-old Mahesh Kapse (pictured, right), who used TikTok to feature his speed painting skill. According to a CNA report, Kapse’s “most watched video has more than 71 million views” and his work has garnered positive reactions “from Indian stars and international cricket players.”

Screengrab from a fan reaction TikTok video

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, he reportedly “gained 1.25 million followers — and an income that was almost four times what his family earned from farming.”

The rise of Indian TikTok stars is explored in CNA’s new documentary “Beyond the Viral Video”. The debut episode delves into the app’s algorithm that prizes content, and pushes those videos to a wider audience.


Just as the viral video phenomenon is a dream come true for many marketers hoping to leverage video to sell products or services, it can be a reputational nightmare scenario for organisations when negative backlash creates virality. In the same way, TikTok is both a leveller and also a platform for misinformation, as detailed in the documentary.

Its ban from India, though, had little to do with its societal impact, and almost everything to do with the political tensions between China and India over a border conflict. The politics surrounding the app is dissected, too, in the debut episode ‘Should We Be Afraid Of TikTok?’.


The 3-part documentary concludes this Saturday, 5th Dec, in an episode where subjects who became instant celebrities from viral fame or infamy are showcased.

The episode “What Happens After Viral Fame?” features personalities such as China’s Ice Boy, Cambodia’s linguistic talent Thuch Salik, and ‘S-Hook’ lady Lerine. Find out how life has been for these viral video stars, after the hype has faded:

Catch episode one of ‘Beyond the Viral Video’ on