In Conversation | Education

Virtual superstardom: YouTuber Bhuvan Bam on his success story

A couple of years ago, Bhuvan Bam was your typical college kid — he had a night job as a singer at a Mughlai restaurant in Delhi. Today, he is one of top YouTube superstars of India by sheer dint of hard work and a smattering of luck. In fact, his interview with actor, director and internet personality Steven Wolfe, aka John Sins, garnered over 17 million views in five days, earlier this year. So, what set this seemingly ‘just another college-goer’ on the path to becoming a YouTuber and consequently, an almost overnight success?

“Before starting my YouTube career, I used to play music at a restaurant. YouTube was never a part of my plan,” admits Bam. “One day, I was checking the video quality on my phone when I saw the news on TV about the floods in India. One reporter asked a lady about how she felt on having lost her son, in the floods. This was, naturally, a wrong question to ask. Miffed, I made a satirical video on it and uploaded it online. That is how I took baby steps into the YouTube world.”

Soon after, he launched his channel “BB Ki Vines” in 2015 and now has over 1.7 billion views and 13 million subscribers. What makes the channel relatable is that it is about a middle-class guy and the problems revolving around him and his family. “Vines was a famous app in the U.S., back then; I borrowed the name from there but never used the app,” he adds.

Titu Mama, from Bam’s “BB ki Vines” is a beloved character, and through a segment, Titu Talks, Bam has featured many B-town celebs on his channel — his interview with Shah Rukh Khan garnered over 17 million views.

Ask Bam about how he is able to create such funny fictional characters almost effortlessly, and pat comes his reply, “The characters are pure observations. I spend a considerable amount of time thinking about them and their way of talking/acting.”

School diaries

However, becoming a YouTube sensation was the last thing on Bam’s mind, while at school — for a short while, he had evinced an interest in archaeology. What then, brought about this sea change? “Every child thinks archaeology is about digging up land to find dinosaur remains and gold. I had the same intentions. I chose commerce while at school, but didn’t get admission for B.Com in any college, based on my marks. Hence, I decided to pursue History Honours, which I eventually graduated in, from Shaheed Bhagat Singh College.”

Singing vs. conventional career

Bam had always been interested in singing and wanted to become a musician too, after class XII, which got his parents sceptical. “They were not completely fine with the idea of me singing at the restaurant, and put their foot down. Eventually, however, I wore them down with my passion and determination,” he laughs.

Challenges

Today, becoming a YouTuber for a career is not unheard of, and is in fact, fast gaining popularity. But a few years ago, this was not the case in India. Bam says that he had never imagined a career in YouTube. “I had some jokes in mind and I just did it for fun. I never realised when this became a full-time profession. There were not many challenges as I went with the flow, without thinking of failure,” he admits.

Calling all youngsters...

He believes that marks are most certainly important, but one’s mental health and self-confidence is way bigger than any exam one will ever attempt. “Life is full of tests. These school/college tests shouldn’t bother you much,” he believes.

What about a career similar to what he does? “While it is a great platform to showcase your talent, YouTubing is not as easy as it looks. To be successful, remember to ensure your content is what you can relate to, and not what is in trend. Wait for your audience to find you. They are hidden somewhere and waiting for you to reach them. Keep trying!”

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 9:26:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/virtual-superstardom/article28730445.ece

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