He might call himself sasta Johnny Depp in jest but to his fans and followers (& I am one of them since I met him 2 days ago), he’s far greater and definitely more relatable. Bhuvan Bam is a 24-year-old phenomenon who is among India’s fastest rising YouTube stars or YouTubers as they are called now. His YT channel BB ki Vines has more than 10million subscribers and over 1.2 billion views – so yes, he’s making a killing.
But, more important than that is the fact that each video of his subtly targets some topic that begs a discussion from the point of view of an Indian urban teenager – be it superstition or the highly discriminating norms of the Indian marriage market or the pressure that students face from their parents when it comes to academic choices.
Of course, BB ki Vines feature BB himself portray 16 different characters all with their own distinctive style & are bursting with cuss words, slang, and off-colour jokes… but as we shall see, he has an explanation for that. And a valid one too, as I learnt at Pixels 2018, organised by the Internet And Mobile Association of India on October 23 at Taj Lands End, Bandra.
SO here’s BB on…
YouTube as a channel:
Among all other platforms, YT is the only channel today where you can say whatever you want. It’s growth is going to be phenomenal in the coming years.
Use of slang:
I’m a Delhi guy. No two friends in Delhi talk without using cuss words. And, only 3 characters of the 16 on my show use such language. They are best friends! You’re not supposed to take slang literally!
On Indian audiences’ reaction to slang:
We watch the likes of American Pie and Eurotrip and say “wow!”, but if BB uses this language in Hindi, you have issues. So as a viewer, this is on you.
Many parents sometimes ask me to please block their kid, because he’s 13 and watches my videos. I say, if your kid is viewing videos on the internet without parental supervision, he’s already exposed to millions of other things – my videos are just comedy. It’s parents’ responsibility to ensure their kid is not spending time on the Internet unsupervised.
Advice to aspiring YouTubers
If you’re thinking of having a channel of your own on YT, don’t think. Just make it. In my recommendations, I find videos that don’t even have 1 lakh followers. So there is a huge scope for growth.
On carving out an audience
Don’t take someone else’s graph as your example. Rest assured, your audience is out there. Find your own particular subject and keep going until you find your audience. Once that clicks, it will work.
On BB the content creator
I exercise a lot of patience. You have to be patient. And put quality above quantity. I take about 15 days to think up and write a single 5-minute episode. But then I shoot the whole thing at one go in 4-5 hours. I edit and upload too the same day because I have to think ahead.
On BB the star
I understand very well that my audience has made me. I’m extremely accessible and I will always remain – after all, that’s the difference between Bollywood stars and us. I love connecting with my audiences – I do this about twice a month: Midnight on Instagram, I have a live music session, with my camera turned off. The whole janta that’s studying, chilling, pulling off a late night, spends a few hours with me. Live cast is for 1 hour so every 56th minute, I ask them if I should come back. And it usually ends up being a 3-hour singing session for me.
On brands asking for viral content
I’ll share one instance where a brand guy said to me “We want to make viral content”, and I replied, “You will make it go viral. Because you have the money. I’ll make good content. Promoting it well is your job”. My understanding is that when you put the pressure of virality on the creator, not only will it not go viral, it won’t even turn out to be good. However, today most brands have come to realise that they have to listen to the creator. It’s a collaboration.
So many platforms, so much to do
For me, YT is just BB Ki Vines – the 16 characters on it. Instagram is Bhuvan Bam, my personal life. That’s where I interact with people. Twitter is usually where you see a lot of outrage. But, whenever I post something new, I talk to people for 30 minutes, engage with them, reply to their comments…
Your inspiration is around you. I observe people around. Watch movies. If you love yourself, and if you don’t care what people think of you, you will become positive by yourself.