What started off as a platform with mostly home-brewed videos, YouTube is slowly attracting content creators who are making content exclusively for the platform.
Gaurav Kashalkar, who watches around 10-15 videos a day, apart from listening to music as well, believes that YouTube is "the place" to go for video content. The 28-year-old Content Lead says, “I tend to get my dose of humour, music, tech, game and movie trailers from YouTube. It's also a great way of discovering new things and I have subscribed to a handful of channels till date. It is an undeniable fact that YouTube is and will be the place where people frequent for entertainment. Be it watching episodes from their favourite soap or watching cartoons from their childhood, YouTube offers what TV can't - ease of access, people can watch what they want and when they want it.”
Samir Kothari, 23, surfs YouTube on his TV. He watches around 10 YouTube videos every week and has subscribed to a couple of YouTube channels. He finds it most convenient to follow his favourite artistes. On the other hand 25-year-old Sagar Chabbria, who is pursuing MBA, regularly watches videos on YouTube that range from music, comedy and even candid stuff. While he believes that it has tremendous potential to become an entertainment platform, he isn’t too happy with the increasing number of ads.
Gaurav, Samir and Sagar are a part of ever increasing number of Internet-savvy youth who are turning to YouTube for their regular dose of entertainment. Here you will come across some eclectic content. What started off as a platform with mostly home-brewed videos, is slowly attracting content creators who are making content exclusively for the platform. And their efforts are appreciated by the increasingly Internet-savvy audiences. We spoke with the people behind some of the popular Indian channels on YouTube, who have actually invested in making content for the platform.
The creators It’s a known fact that YouTube is not only the largest, but also the most popular video hosting platform in the world. But what makes it a platform of choice for content creators is the fact that it’s an open platform where one can experiment. They can reach their audience directly and get their feedback. Additionally, it’s also a versatile platform that can be accessed from the web, mobile devices and even connected TVs. And this is what lures in the upcoming content creators and even those looking for an alternative to the traditional media channels.
While in the west you have established players who have joined the YouTube bandwagon, in India the trend is being ushered not by established players, but by individuals. For instance, JayHind! TV, which is amongst the first Indian YouTube channel, was established by Abhigyan Jha, a veteran in the TV industry. Abhigyan and his wife Mrinal have been associated with the TV industry for the past several years. In 2006, they launched their own content creation and distribution company, Undercover Productions Ltd. In fact, Abhigyan gained popularity as the Executive Producer and Script-Head for over 500 episodes of the hugely popular Movers & Shakers. When a popular TV channel backed out of his show at the last minute, instead of scrapping the project, he started looking for alternatives. And back in 2009, he took a step that was unheard of; he decided to host his show online. His show JayHind!, hosted by versatile actor Sumeet Raghavan, takes a satirical look at the current events.
Abhigyan Jha and Sumeet Raghavan, JayHind! TV
Sumeet, who wasn’t happy with the kind of roles that were coming his way, was anxious to do something challenging. And Jay Hind! presented him that opportunity. After the channel backed out, he simply trusted and relied on Abhigyan’s vision to take it online. It was initially hosted on a website, where it got good response within a couple of days. They were then approached by YouTube to host it on their platform. The show and Sumeet as a host have won several accolades and today, he is amongst the only actors to have successfully made the transition from TV to web. Something which he doesn’t regret.
IITian Arunabh Kumar, who founded the highly popular youth oriented channel – The Viral Fever, turned to the online medium as he was fed-up with the creative feudalism that he says exists in the TV industry. He describes himself as a media vagabond. From working with a leading producer to writing scripts to doing music videos and even developing a show for a leading channel, he has done it all. When his idea for a youth-oriented show was turned down by channel executives, he decided to experiment on YouTube. He uploaded a pilot video called College Q-Tiyapa Inglorious Seniors in March 2011. It managed to garner good response. Arunabh then spent the next six months thinking about the kind of bouquet they wanted to make and the YouTube channel The Viral Fever went live in February 2012.
Incidentally, almost every member of TVF hails from IIT. In spirit, they are like a startup where every member of the team multi-tasks; they ideate for content ideas, write, shoot, edit and, at times, even act. They each bring in their own expertise, but are also constantly learning other stuff. And that is what helps them keep rejuvenated. So while they maybe like a startup in terms of spirit, Arunabh points out that they are all professionals who are good at their jobs. They are confident that they can create better shows with more profitability and efficiency than most big production houses. What catapulted them to fame was the spoof on the popular reality show MTV Roadies. Today, Rowdies is hugely popular and Deepak Mishra, who impersonates television’s terrible twins Raghu Ram and Rajeev Laxman, has a fan following of his own and is chased by television channels. Owing to their success, TVF is also being approached by brands to create videos for them.
While Abhigyan and Arunabh were veterans from within the industry, the two co-founders of HumaraMovie were outsiders who wanted to make movies. A corporate lawyer by profession, Pallavi Rohatgi practised in New York, while her husband Vinay Mishra has been an entrepreneur for the past several years. Passionate about movies, they did a course in filmmaking from New York University, post which they worked on independent Hollywood films. They wanted to come to India and make independent movies. However, after coming here, they realised just how difficult it was to break into the league. They met several talented individuals, all with stories to tell and waiting for the big chance. That’s when the idea of a platform that will allow people to showcase their talent started brewing in their mind. They got together with Preety Ali, who happened to be Vinay’s friend from school and was now a part of the industry with several years of experience in Film & TV production. When they were looking to create an online platform that would allow people to showcase their work and reach large numbers, YouTube was their obvious choice. Thus was born HumaraMovie.
If you have a script, you can connect with the team and if they like the story, then they will help you co-produce it. You will have to work with the stipulated budget; they will provide you with the equipment you will need and also take care of the post processing of the film. They also have space in their office that can be used to shoot. Besides, if you require, they will also help you with contacts of some directors, actors etc. However, they do not interfere in the creative process and that’s entirely up to the filmmaker. Once your movie is ready, it will be put up on HumaraMovie’s YouTube channel, which has over 15,000 subscribers. Currently, they have a 50-50 revenue sharing deal with the filmmakers.
The model seems to have clicked not only with the filmmakers, but also with the audience and the community as a whole. They have been approached by film festivals held across the globe, who want content from HumaraMovie that can be then showcased at the festival. Besides this, HumaraMovie has tied-up with local events and also organises filmmaking competitions, which are judged by some of the top directors from Bollywood, including the likes of Imtiaz Ali, Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane. Few of their filmmakers, who got noticed on the platform after their work, have been approached by industry folks and are now in the process of making their films.
Then we have Shankar Tucker, an American clarinetist and music composer who boasts of over million views and over 70, 000 subscribers for his YouTube channel – The Shrutibox. It’s not just his name that is fusion, but so is his music – a blend of jazz and Indian classical music. Though Shankar grew-up studying Western classical music and Jazz, he was exposed to Hindustani music that his parents listened to. But it was only in high school that he re-discovered Hindustani music for himself. Shankar says, “At the time I was really into studying improvisation from a Jazz perspective, and Hindustani music struck me as being an incredibly well-structured, efficient, and wise approach to improvisation. I was really led into it by the recordings of Remember Shakti with John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussain, and then later the CD's of Hariprasad Chaurasia.” He later got a grant to study music under the tutelage of flute maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia in Mumbai.
He realised that making a transition from a student to professional wouldn’t be so easy thanks to the incredible talent and the vibrant music scene that exists. Back home, he had seen musicians successfully dabble with the online video platform and decided to take the same route here. He started his YouTube channel, The Shrutibox. He has been re-inventing songs by adding to them an essence of jazz and Indian classical music. He took a chance with YouTube, but fortunately, it has worked for him. He says, “All the professional opportunities that I have received so far, including live concert tours, composing music for film, and studio sessions, have been solely because of my music on YouTube.”