He is the coolest name in the YouTube space, has been part of several TV ads, is a musician, comedian and a real influencer with 11.2 million followers on Instagram. Bhuvan Bam will be in Dubai on January 21st for Filmfare ME’s Social Night! The sensational social media influencer speaks to Manju Ramanan on how he rose from being a common man to the undisputed king of content! Excerpts..
Did you envision this kind of success? Words like a Youtube Sensation, Influencer, Youth icon, King of Content – how do you react to all these?
I had never imagined such new levels of success with every passing day. I had never thought that one video of mine would create a rage all across the world wide web. I was just a common man in Delhi a few years back and this success is all because of the love of my fans. It is the connection and relatability that has earned me faithful fans. Of course, there has been a lot of blood and sweat that has gone into my videos.
How did you get fascinated by the visual medium?
I used to see a lot of videos on the internet. One day, I just randomly uploaded a video on Facebook but it didn’t receive many views or likes. I was unaware of the fact, until one of my friends told me that you can actually monetize when you post videos on YouTube. I had never imagined a career on YouTube. I just had some jokes in mind and I did it for fun. I never realized when this became a full-time profession.
Tell us about your childhood in Baroda. Were you always fond of humor and singing/acting?
Yes, I was born in Baroda. After my 12th, I discovered my passion for music. At the very start of my career, I used to sing at bars and restaurants in Delhi which was my basic source of income then and I knew that music is something I would want to pursue in the future. Humour came naturally to me. Though my first video, The Chakhna Issue received only 20 views. I was still dedicated to the idea of making people laugh and I continued uploading more videos nonetheless. I started BB ki Vines in 2015 with the idea of just creating good content by observing people, depicting the life of an urban teenager and the sarcastic, whimsical conversations with his friends and family. I never knew people would like it so much. I posted more videos later and the rest as they say is history.
Your early video was a satire on an insensitive newsreader had 15 viewers – it went viral in Pakistan. Did people mistake you to be Pakistani?
Yes. That was my first video in 2015 after watching a very bizarre piece of news, where a reporter was asking a woman how it felt to have lost her son in the Kashmir floods. That was something very strange. I thought I should make a satirical video out of it. I posted that on YouTube and it got only 15 likes! Then the third or fourth video I posted, got viral in Pakistan, crossing over 15,000 likes with comments from Karachi and Islamabad and Rawalpindi. I realized I was becoming popular internationally. But people assumed I am a Pakistani.
How do you create your 19 characters and are they inspired from real life? Why do you love Titu mama the most?
All my characters are based on mere observations. I observe people around me and spend a considerable amount of time analyzing and studying their traits and way of talking. Then it all combines with exaggerated middle-class comedy where I sometimes take inspiration from my own family. Titu Mama is my favourite of all, he is the only one character inspired from real life. When my mama (uncle) actually saw the character for the first time, he called me up and asked, ‘Yeh main hoon kya?’ ( Is this me?)and when I told him yes, he said, ‘Bohot jordaar hai! ( It is remarkable) Keep it up”. He lives in Baroda and he said that I have made him famous there.
A Bollywood film story that is close to you ?
Goutam Ghose’s ‘Paar’ is one story that hit me hard. A couple’s story of poverty and exploitation. How a low-class labor couple finds themselves struggling for work in Kolkata after escaping from their village’s zamindars.
Name three people you know who are extremely funny in real life?
My father, my brother and my friend’s relationship status are extremely funny.
At 26, what is that one incident that embarrassed you the most?
After lockdown I’ve been in multiple situations where I forget to choose between high fives, hugs or bro fists.
A troll who became a fan or friend?
Haven’t experienced that yet but would surely want to have chai and discuss life with them.
What’ll you do after you turn 40 years of age?
Firstly, I’m not sure if I’ll be alive till 40. Secondly, my focus is on today. We often neglect our present thinking about the future.