No censor & holds barred

No censor & holds barred

Shah Rukh Khan’s spoof video for the YouTube channel, ‘The Viral Fever – Barely Speaking with Arnub’ where the anchor plays Arnab Goswami and...

YouTube channels rule the roost

Shah Rukh Khan’s spoof video for the YouTube channel, ‘The Viral Fever – Barely Speaking with Arnub’ where the anchor plays Arnab Goswami and Shahrukh, himself – creating a mad and entertaining fare, garnered over 1.5 million views in a week. After the debacle on ‘Koffee with Karan’, the Gen Y star Alia Bhatt became the ‘Bhatt of all jokes’ on social media. Many memes were created and went viral showing that she is the perfect example of ‘beauty without brains’. Taking the same platform with the help of the YouTube channel ‘All India Bhakchod’, she took the social networking sites by storm with her video ‘Genius of the Year’, directed by Shakun Batra of ‘Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu’ fame. YouTube Channels are already extremely popular with internet viewers. Bollywood is simply riding on the popular trend by endorsing it!

Shahrukh Khan with Arnub during the promotion of his film on TVF Channel

In today’s times, when trending is the key word, one can say that running a YouTube channel is surely trending. So much is the popularity of some of these well conceptualised channels that, tinsel town stars, who are usually quite choosy about being even on television, are increasingly showing preference to the online medium, for their promotion. Looks like the stars have finally seen the power of these channels and are capturing the reach of this popular medium.

With more and more people hooked on to the internet, preferring to even listen to music, read books and watch movies and their favourite games online; the focus is definitely shifting towards online entertainment.

Nisha Madhulika in her studio

And very soon, we are probably going to say - Move on TV; What with smart phones and smart TVs entering the fray and the dazzling choice of content from within India and across the world available to choose from, at the click of the mouse. Creating content too is so much easier. Gone are the days when one has to run from pillar to post, to make even a five minute film. As the wheel of time turned and technology became more advanced and cheaper, people who just used to dream about being part of the glam world can now actually make their dream come true with small and cheap equipment. And once the content is ready, they only have to upload it. One just needs to have a Google account and he can own a channel. However, the challenge is to be able to catch the audience’s attention and retain it, time and again, in order to garner maximum number of hits – the true definition for a successful YouTube Channel. With high-speed internet available at an affordable cost, widespread use of internet and the popularity of smart phones contributed to the popularity of Indian YouTube channels.

A scene from Alia Bhatt’s ‘Genius of the Year’ on AIB

On the internet, there are no rules; except for remaining on the top by all means. Competition is fierce, and the audience is remorseless. One miss and you are back from where you began, or almost there. But the advantages are so many – minimum investment and maximum mileage being the foremost, that the business of running a YouTube channel has reached newer heights with standup comedians, spoof artistes, musicians, auto experts – you name them and they are starting a channel of their own.

The popular channels in India like, ‘All India Bakchod’, ‘The Viral Fever Videos’, ‘East India Company’, ‘Bollywood Gandu’, ‘Kanan Gill’ are either started by standup comedians to broadcast their shows or by a team of creative people with innovative ideas, who either were rejected by mainstream media, or did not have enough resources to start something more big. Today, they are owners of some of the most popular channels creating online content for entertainment, and many amongst them rely on Bollywood for ideas. A spoof of a review or a film, actors and actresses, latest film news, current affairs and popular news makers – all find a place in their content. And it is a no strings attached format – there is no censor, no set format and sky is the limit – Like it or leave it.

Kanan Gill talking to a girl from Mumbai for his show

Then there are the food channels like ‘Manjula’s Kitchen’, ‘Vah Chef’ and ‘Nisha Madhulika’. The new-age chefs - some of them who left their full-time jobs to pursue their love for cooking- bring the recipes out of cook books and television cookery shows. They demonstrate the entire cooking procedure in their kitchens, record it and upload the videos. There are fashion-based channels like ‘Corallista’ and automobile-related ones like ‘Power Drift’ and there are channels on travel, music and more. While there are popular TV shows, also hosting YouTube channels; the emerging talent comprising of the otherwise regular individuals who use online videos to showcase their creativity, and in the process, gain popularity is the interesting aspect of this emerging trend.

The young engineering graduate from IIT Bombay, Ankita Chaturvedi, who, instead of taking up a job, chose to start a YouTube channel on fashion, Corallista in 2013. Her content is based on fashion and beauty. Kanan Gill too is an engineer who quit his job in a software company. Today, he is a full-time standup comedian who owns a YouTube channel that is popular for reviewing films and making fun of Bollywood films. Nisha Madhulika, on the other hand, runs a food channel in Hindi. Her show gets almost 1,00,000 views every day. She started shooting videos of her cooking after she left her job to follow her passion for cooking. Her YouTube channel too takes some effort to run. She spends seven hours a day to make around 15-16 videos a month. Her early videos were shot on Sony Handycam, but with increasing popularity, she has graduated to professional cameras and editors.

On the other hand, Arunabh Kumar, the founder of TVF Q-tiyapa is from IIT Kharagpur.

“I developed a show for MTV in my fifth year called Genius Diary. MTV liked the idea and it was aired for six-eight months. But I soon realised that things I wanted to do were different from what the channel was allowing me," he had shared in an interview. He wanted to create satirical programming, for which Indian TV was not ready. Arunabh pokes fun at everything that affects the common man’s life in India. "When MTV rejected the idea, I think that was the best rejection of my life. Youth channels told me Indian youth doesn’t want to watch this. I wanted to prove them wrong. Had they accepted, the idea would have ended up in some maximum 10 to 15 episodes.” Evidently, it was not to be; the team comprising of other IIT graduates started with smaller videos like the mock version of ‘Student Of The Year’s’ popular ‘Ishq wala love’ - ‘Gana wala song’ – it became almost as popular as the original track, with over 1.2 million hits on YouTube.

In addition to revenue generation through advertisements and product endorsements, the popular artists also get invitations for live shows, many have signed up for television shows and today, most of them are stars in their own right. Online channels usually start in a small way and many times, it is just a fun thing to do. But when the channel starts gaining popularity, the whole business elevates to a new level with a business strategy, creative planning and future projection in place.

Creative liberty is what the creators of online content enjoy. No wonder they come up with names like – Bollywood Gandu – which is a cuss word, but who is going to stop them. The team members, Karan Talwar, Neville Shah, Varun Thakur, Aadar Malik, Brij Bhakta and Kautuk Srivastava agree. “It's a huge plus! We can get away with what we really want to say without worrying about legal issues. But I doubt that will last for too long - Indians love getting offended and will always find ways to do it.” The channel has specific plans in place for the future. “The name is a creation of one of our members. Our collective is called SNG Comedy and as of last week our channel name has been changed to 'SnGComedy'. The shift will be from random videos to a dedicated video schedule and more involvement from the entire team.”

What is it that attracts the audience to the online channels, “I follow College Humour, Kanan Gill, Power Drift. I like these shows for the way they package their content, which is based on the target audience. Some of the ideas these channels come up with are ingenuous. YouTube channel is low cost affair and has wider reach. And the popularity is also because of the growth in the online reader segment. Future is online content,” says Anivesh, an ardent follower of the channels. “However, with one good video, the expectations become very high and if the next one falls short even by a small margin, the channel looses out on the number of hits – that may prove costly in the competitive medium. I myself have commented adversely when I did not like some of the videos. You have to be good always and that can be a demanding job to remain on the top,” he explains.- With inputs from Navin Pivhal and Augustin Kurian

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