The League of Extraordinary Entertainers

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Picture yourself 12 years ago, in your regular hangout joint with your favourite group of friends, chattering away as usual. How would you react then, if someone mentions the idea of having to record the moment you’re in and eventually put it up for the world to see? Laugh at the incredulity or perhaps dismiss it by calling too farfetched an idea to execute? Mention that scenario today and the suggestion will be welcomed with “Oh you mean like so-and-so channel?” and “It’s already been done. Too mainstream”. When did the world make this transition? How did online video streaming take a parallel route to cinema and produce talented artists that are now accessible on your smartphone/computer screen at the tap of an app and the click of a mouse?
You Tube has become one of the ultimate platforms for people with exceptional talents and passion to showcase it to the world and gain almost a cult-like following for their channels. May it be inspirational, fitness motivation, foodies galore, class of comedy or just a daily how-to video for pre-teens, teens and adults alike; we all know that online entertainment is here to stay. We bring you exclusive interviews of the stars of the digital age, who give us the do’s and don’ts of the holy grail of entertainment and what makes them (and their subscribers) click

Sam Pic 3

“You don’t need to know someone to get your story out there”

A graduate of University of Westminster, Sameer Pitalwalla co-founded Culture Machine digital video entertainment company along with Venkat Prasad that creates entertainment for the internet generation. Culture Machine runs 350 YouTube channels with videos that have get over 100+ million monthly views and sometimes more

How did you start off in the digital entertainment sector? 
Prior to the inception of Culture Machine, I led the digital video and entertainment apps business at Disney UTV where I was responsible for building the digital media business for the entertainment channels in the company’s broadcasting portfolio, the mobile app business as well as getting all of Disney’s properties to leadership positions in social media. Prior to Disney Utv, it was setting up and building the digital video business at the Times Group.

How did the inspiration for culture machine come about?
Social platforms such as Facebook, Youtube and Twitter, have become essential utilities. All of these were evolving towards video. There is and will continue to be fragmentation in these platforms and new sub-cultures and communities that form around them. Entertainment unlocks media, and the time was ripe to build a media company that combined two common passions Venkat and I shared, technology and media.

Can you give me details as to how an organization like CM works? How do you choose whom to feature as part of your organization?
As core product, what we build is software. One form of it is in video, the other is technology product that helps us understand what to create for audiences and then to create at scale. We work with our youtube creators as well as our own brands to identify what audience will resonate with what programming and then determine basis that what content to create and who to create it with.

How far do you think has the YouTube generation evolved and how far do you think is it going to go?
YouTube has been a large brand for personas. Culture on the net defines a large part of what the youth wants today. Kids from the 90s and onwards are going to be defined as the generation who started off and lived through the era of YouTube videos. With regards to the concept becoming obsolete, I don’t think anything ever dies. Everything survives. For example, television has been around for decades and still didn’t manage to kill print. They all find ways to evolve and adapt, they all are here to stay.

How does Culture Machine ensure that it stays on top even with several other companies doing the same thing that you do?
We tend to get bored of what we do faster than our audiences. This keeps us wanting to use our technology to understand and keep our fingers on the pulse of the audience.

RAPID FIRE

When it comes to comedy, what, if anything, cannot be joked about, at all?
Anything to do with right of centre ideologies.

Which would you say is your favourite YouTube channel?
Currently, Epified

What is the biggest myth in the entertainment industry that you would like to dispel?
That you need to know someone to get your story out there.

Portraying and breaking stereotypes: clichéd and overdone or necessary and relevant?
A bit of both. It depends on how you portray them.

Lilly Singh- Superwoman 3

“Keep your dreams in the stars and your feet on the ground”

Stealing hearts and spreading one love to over five million subscribers on YouTube, we get up close and personal with Lilly Singh a.k.a Superwoman who gives us an exclusive on her life and her world tour, in her happy place – Unicorn Island!

What was it like coordinating with Culture Machine who had a major role to play in setting up your shows in India?
I am thoroughly impressed with Culture Machine. I feel like it’s very rare to get that interaction and organizing the meet and greet with the fans and they made it possible. Even their tagline “With <3 by Culture Machine” is very in line with my own brand and everything I work with has been so hospitable. In fact, all my dancers that are not used to Indian culture go “Everyone is so nice!” It’s been great working with them.

What inspired you to start your channel?
Personally, I was coming out of a real hard time in my life. So I decided to make videos to pick myself up, to cheer other people up. From a business point of view, I didn’t see another South-Asian female in the business. Even now, I don’t see as many, but at that time there was none at all and so I thought I should be that person. And now I am going to be that person.

If you weren’t a YouTuber, spreading one love and unicorn hugs to everyone at Unicorn Island, what would you be doing?
When I started making YouTube videos, I had just finished my degree in Psychology and I was applying for my Masters degree. Who knows if that would have worked out, but I was applying. So I would have probably done something in psychology, maybe working with kids. But not being completely happy with it either because I love entertaining people from a young age.

Your finally met The Rock, setting off tears amongst your unicorns watching your vlogs all over the world! What’s next on your vision board?
It’s actually interesting because a lot of things on my vision board are coming true. One of the things on my vision board said “Would you like a world tour?” and now I am on my world tour! One thing on my vision board would be a puppy (laughs) but on a more sentimental note, I would love to do something in TV and film. I think it’s very exciting and challenging a prospect.

What keeps you grounded even when you’re surrounded by fame and stardom and more than five million subscribers?
I am very much a normal person! But honestly, I am a very spiritual person, so I talk to myself a lot. Every time before I go for a show (and people who know me have seen this), I do this thing where I don’t talk to anyone and I become very quiet. I close my eyes and tell myself that even though this may be my 100th show, for a lot of people it’s their first show and no matter how many times you’ve done it, you have to treat it like their first time. This is your one chance to make a difference in someone’s life. I remind myself every single day why I started doing this. It’s a mental battle to stay grounded because to be honest, it is so easy for someone in my position or a bigger celebrity to not be grounded. But you have got to remind yourself to keep your dreams in the stars and your feet on the ground.

Manjeet and Paramjeet are just as loved as you are(sometimes even more) in your videos. Have you taken pointers from your parents in any way at all?
Some of the clichéd things that they say like cleaning my room, getting married, getting a job, and
Why are you on YouTube all the time” are things that they have said to me. Some traits of Manjeet, like maybe showing off, is something that my dad does do sometimes. But A LOT of it is made up, taking traits from every aunty-uncle and relative I have come across. My parents don’t dress like that at all and neither do they have that accent. They’re very hip and modern. So they (Manjeet and Paramjeet) are
mostly made up but there are elements that are true.

What would Nana ji say?
He would say “Go to Punjab and eat jalebis for me because you’re in India!” (laughs) But on a more serious note, I don’t think he ever fully understood the concept of YouTube and the impact he had. He did of course do a couple of videos with me and even today a lot of gifts that I get are related to him. And if I could tell him something,it would be that he was in just two to three videos and yet he impacted people so much. So that’s amazing.

Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
It doesn’t matter to me as long as I am happy! I see myself on Unicorn Island, hopefully not broke and
hopefully doing movies and music because I would really like that. So, as long as I am doing something
that makes me happy, I will be content.

Lilly Singh- Superwoman 2

RAPID FIRE

A terrible habit you’d want to change in yourself
Blinking too much

What’s the coolest thing about Toronto?
Its multi-culturalism 

The best thing about performing on stage?
People’s reactions

Best thing to do on a first date
Get a first date!

If you woke up one morning and realized that you’ve turned into Nicki Minaj, what would you do?
Grab my butt

Best present you’ve ever gotten
Buttery popcorn 

Kittens or puppies?
Puppies. But I don’t want to hurt kittens’ feelings!

Your favourite thing about India
Gulab jamuns

What’s the most Canadian thing ever?
“Eh”

If you could switch lives with a person for one day, who would it be?
The Rock’s girlfriend

Most stylish celebrity, according to you?
Deepika Padukone

If you had to be the best in the world at one sport, what would it be?
Mac ‘n’ Cheese Eater

Your top five pet peeves?
Lying, rudeness, selfishness, unfunny and unsubscribing (me!)

If not a unicorn, what would your spirit animal be?
Panda

What would you tell 16-year-old Lilly?
Everything is going to be perfect.

What would you want your last words to be?
Mmm that chipotle was so good!

Karan Talwar- sng 2

“We all wanted to make sure that the channel reflects us and our sense of humour”

With more than 1,20,000 subscribers, SnG Comedy is a group of hilarious stand up, improve and sketch comedians who aren’t afraid to explore bold topics that may otherwise be considered as taboo for an Indian audience

What inspired you to set up the channel? Did you have an agenda to follow when you started SnG Comedy?
It’s all because of Karan. We had all been performing individually and together for a while and Karan said that the next logical and imperative step would be to do sketches on YouTube. We all wanted to make sure that the channel reflects us and our sense of humour; irreverent, childish and sometimes, even socially leading. We just didn’t want to do anything that’s popular or ride on the wave of a fad.

How many members form the group and how often do you meet up to create videos?
There are now six people in the group: Karan Talwar, Varun Thakur, Brij Bhakta, Aadar Malik, Kautuk Srivastava, and Neville Shah.We try to do, 2-3 times a week. It isn’t necessary that all six of us meet, some of us do and then take on the lead for those projects. Our process is simple though. Someone has an idea. Writes a first draft. If we all like it, we do a table read, punch it up over the week or so and then go shoot it.

Is generating content for YouTube a full time job or do you pursue careers apart from this field of entertainment?
All of us are comedians and improvisers, so there’s that. Aadar, Varun, Brij, Kautuk do a lot of acting and writing work. Karan runs his business and a does a lot of consulting work for brands in the social media
space. Neville works at Ogilvy and Mather as a Group Creative Director.

Have you ever received any negative criticism about your videos ? How do you deal with people like that?
Oh tonnes! Dealing with it is easy. Most times we ignore. But then there a few who just want to rile up, so we comment back to just get a reaction. It’s fun.

What’s the mantra to getting noticed and becoming a YouTube sensation?
Regularity. Your own voice and opinion. Relevance.

Which other YouTube sensation would you love to collaborate with?
The Indian favourites: AIB, EIC, Kanan&Biswa, Abish, Anuvab, Kenny. Even Maati Baani we just spoke to for a collab. Jus Reign, Bo Burnham, Key and Peele, several others.

RAPID FIRE

If you could gift a sense of humour to anyone in this country, who would it be and why?
Religious groups and politicians: Obvious reasons

Name personalities who you think can take a joke sportingly.
Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh, SRK, Vir Das, Ranvir Shorey, Vinay Pathak, Suhel Seth and many others

What can absolutely never be joked about?
As a group, we don’t think there should be anything you can’t make a joke about. You just have to be careful and handle it sensitively. To quote Carlin, ‘ it depends on what the exaggeration is.’ But principally, we won’t do anything that is distasteful

Finish the sentence: Indians on the Internet are always hiding under the guise of anonymity?

Kanan-2 (1)

“I wish we, as Indians, would let up a little bit”

Our local heartthrob, the one with the funny one-liners and witty comebacks, the Pretentious Movie
Reviews guy (along with Biswa) who introduced us to movies like Prem Aggan and gave us a new perspective of Jaani Dushman, Kanan Gill’s channel on YouTube has more than 2,30,000 subscribers.
After quitting a career in software engineering (fortunately) to take up stand-up comedy (Hallelujah!), he talks about how it all happened

What inspired you to set up your channel?
I think the first time that I saw a YouTube video in 2007, I thought, “I need to do this.” Although it took many years after that for me to finally start, the seed of the idea was really planted there. I didn’t really have an agenda to follow; I just wanted to put out things that I thought were funny.

Is generating video content a full time job for you?
YouTube is a part time job for me. I spend most of my time doing live stand up comedy, and then spend the remaining time on YouTube. I’m trying to shift that balance a little bit now. I’d like to focus more on
YouTube .

How long does the process take from ideating for a video to planning and executing it?
For some videos, a couple of weeks, and for some a couple of hours. It really depends on the treatment I’d
like the video to have. There’s a series on my channel called ‘Dudes’ which goes straight from ideation to filming to editing and it’s out, in contrast to movie review, which we sit on for a much longer time.

If you weren’t a comedian, what would you see yourself doing?
I used to write software before this, so that’s not a bad option. I’m fascinated by design and I’m a bad musician, so maybe one of those?

How does it feel to be recognized by people (especially screaming fangirls) as ‘the guy in that YouTube video’?
It’s nice and odd at the same time. It’s surreal to have fans of anything on any level, although sometimes when people get excited to see me in public, I’d like to point them in the direction of more famous people. I think it’s wasted on me a little bit.

What’s the mantra to getting noticed and becoming a YouTube sensation?
I wish I knew; I’d put out more videos.

Which other YouTube sensation would you love to collaborate with?
It’d be fun to get in on a Collegehumor YouTube video.

Have you ever received any negative criticism about your videos? How do you deal with people like that?
A lot! That’s the nature of the internet. All common sense points to not letting hate get to you, but it still does, always. I think a big part about becoming experienced on YouTube is being immune to hateful comments. Negative criticism is helpful, though. But I’d say there’s not too much of that, it’s easier to hate.

RAPID FIRE

If you could gift a sense of humour to anyone in this country, who would you choose and why?Politicians. So they get to be likeable and liberal in one fell swoop

Name three personalities who you think can take a joke sportingly.
Karan Johar, Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor – we all saw this

What, according to you, can absolutely never be joked about or made fun of?
Nothing at all. Everything that can be talked about, can be joked about

Finish the sentence: Indians on the Internet are
more judgemental of Indian-made content than other content. I’m not sure why

EIC2

‘Use comedy to address the darkest issues with a pinch of salt’

Manned by the country’s funniest people, East India Comedy, formed in 2012, takes the notion of bold sarcasm on to a different level and puts our thoughts into words way too accurately. Sapan Verma tells us about EIC, and its sketches

What inspired you to set up the channel, which now has more than 1,58,000 subscribers?
We’re stand-up comedians by profession, so we started our channel as a means to just get our comedy out to more people. There wasn’t any agenda initially, but slowly we realised that we’re reaching to millions of people across the world. And then those people started coming for our live gigs, which boosted the ticket sales. So, say, if last year we were struggling to pull in a crowd of 300 people, this year we’ve managed to sell out an 800-seater in pretty much all big cities across India. So we consciously started pushing ourselves to work harder for our channel.

How many members form your group, permanently? How often do you meet up to create videos?
Seven of us. EIC was started by Sorabh Pant, Kunal Rao, Sahil Shah and me. Then Azeem Banatwalla,
Angad Ranyal and Atul Khatri joined in. We’re all full time comedians. As for the production team, we work with some of the best DOPs, editors and music producers on project basis.

Is generating content for videos a full time job or do you pursue careers apart from this field of entertainment?
As I said, we’re comedians first, YouTubers second. So we all do about 10-15 gigs a month each. These could be public gigs, corporate events or college shows as well. This is where we make most of our income from. We do some script writing assignments as well. Like this year our team is scripting the IIFA Awards taking place in Malaysia, hosted by Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor.

How long does the process take from ideating for a video to planning and executing it?
Totally depends on the video. Some small scale videos have been written, shot, edited and released within a week, and some big scale ones have taken over two months. It totally depends on what you’re doing in the video.

If you weren’t YouTubers, what would you see yourselves doing?
Live comedy gigs, writing for films/ads and maybe even acting in films. Also, walking around in public all day hoping that someone would recognise us and beg for a photo.

What’s the mantra to getting noticed and becoming a sensation? Any tips for upcoming creators?
As cliché as it may sound, be yourself. Be different. Don’t look at what others are doing or what the trend is, and try to ape that. If you strongly believe in something, or have a particular style, just do it, and do it consistently. A couple of months or even years later, you will build a niche for it and all other things like fan following, money, success etc will follow.

Which other YouTube sensation (Indian or international) would you love to collaborate with?
We’re already collaborating with a bunch of comedians. Apart from the usual gang of AIB, TVF, and
Kanan, we’d love to collaborate with someone from a completely different field, like musicians, beauty bloggers, tech reviewers, and chefs, among others.

How do you deal with people who throw negative criticism at you like it’s their raison d’ être?
We’ve even started a web series called No Comments where we read out the negative comments that we get and make fun of them. But usually, the good comments overpower the bad ones by a long shot. So we don’t even notice them. And if your video is full of bad comments, then it must’ve really been quite terrible.

RAPID FIRE

If you could gift a sense of humour to anyone in this country, who would you choose and why?
The policy makers and the guardians of our so called ‘Indian culture’. There’s too much censorship and bans happening in the country. Chill out, let people be. Don’t try to teach them your moral values

Name three personalities who you think can take a joke sportingly.
Ritesh Deshmukh: He came for The Ghanta Awards last year and sportingly accepted an award. James Blunt: You have to check his twitter account, it’s hilarious. Arvind Kejriwal: Every time someone makes a funny video about him, he laughs and shares it as well!

What, according to you, can absolutely never be joked about or made fun of?
Nothing. Everything should be spoken about in comedy. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to “make fun of it”

Finish the sentence: Indians on the Internet are
mostly armchair critics who believe that putting their opinions across as YouTube comments can change the world

being

“India needs more funny midgets running around”

With over four lakh subscribers and a staggering 44 million views, Being Indian has always been one of India’s absolute favourite YouTube channels. Creative Director of Culture Machine, Karl Katgara, gives us
the details of the job

What inspired you to set up the channel? Did you have an agenda to follow when you started Being Indian?
YouTube is a perfect platform to tell stories that have no place in the mainstream media and to connect with the audience directly without any intermediary. The agenda of Being Indian is to make people smile, laugh and to present the youth with content that they can relate to.

How long does the process take from ideating for a YouTube video to planning and executing it?
Trends come and go every day and it is just left to our gut feelings to pick and choose. One of our most successful videos, Vague Manpower, which spoofed the Vogue Empower, released within three days of the original. It is very tough to quantify how long does it take for a germ to become a finished product as every idea is dealt with on its merit. 

Has there been a noticeable change in the way Indians stereotype people after your videos have been shared extensively on social media?
One thing that we did notice is that a lot of people now get the idea of laughing at each other, laughing with each other and laughing at ourselves. Peace and love for all.

Which other YouTube sensation (Indian or international) would you love to collaborate with?
There are so many YouTubers in India and abroad who are putting up excellent stuff. Amongst Indian
creators we love the work of Put Chutney and would love to collaborate with them. Internationally we look up to this French channel called Golden Moustache.

Have you ever received any negative criticism about your videos? How do you deal with people like that?
Negative criticism comes in plenty. Everyone has their opinion and is free to criticize what they want. The best way to deal with is to not engage but ignore. A lot of times people are right too. We try to take it in our stride and make the best of the negativity.

RAPID FIRE

If you could gift a sense of humour to anyone in this country, who would you choose and why?
Midgets! India needs more funny midgets running around

Name three personalities who you think can take a joke sportingly.
Sonam Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor and Sajid Khan Just kidding – Sajid can’t take a joke

What, according to you, can absolutely never be joked about or made fun of?
Dignity of people. There is a thin line of difference between a joke and an insult and irreverence comes with a price. We don’t get it right 100% of times and are quick to admit if we take a fall

Finish the sentence: Indians on the Internet are free from the ridiculous censorship of TV and cinema

enna

“A combination of the right content and marketing”

Enna Da Rascalas, an upcoming YouTube sensation with nine Enna Da Rascalas, members from down under, tells us what it’s like to make videos celebrating stereotypes

What inspired you to set up the channel? And why the name ‘Enna Da Rascalas?
We started out as a theatre company, our parent group being Stray Factory. We see this as an extension of that. Enna Da Rascalas was a fun term coined just to poke fun at how people assume folks down south actually say ‘Enna Da Rascalas’. We didn’t put much thought into it at the time; right now we’re happy calling ourselves Rascalas. Sounds a tad rowdy doesn’t it?

How long does the process take from ideating for a YouTube video to planning and executing it?
We’ve made videos overnight when it’s really exciting and that’s a high on its own. However, a good video does take planning and needs good technicians and actors and that process can take anywhere between a week to a month. The writing part is what needs the maximum focus.

Has there been a noticeable change in the way Indians stereotype people from the south after your videos being shared extensively on social media?
Not really, we’re not in a position to judge but we have been written to from the south saying that they feel like we’ve voiced their opinions and they are happy that we’ve shared the diversity from down south. Although, I must say the video was never intended to mock stereotypes but more celebrate our diversity and share that with our friends and fellow Indians.

If you weren’t YouTubers, what would you see yourselves doing?
We’d be writing, performing and acting on a platform that allowed us to do so. Outside of entertaining and
generating conversations we don’t see ourselves doing anything else.

How do you deal with hate speech/negative comments on your videos?
It’s taken us a while to understand how this works, we initially didn’t reply to comments negative or positive because we weren’t sure. However, now we’ve taken it upon ourselves to be more proactive. As far as negative comments go, if there is constructive criticism we reply, if someone is misinformed we try and generate a conversation, if someone is being a troll we do reply. We’ve realised that we need to believe in what we’re saying and there’s no reason to feel apologetic about the same. In rare cases where it’s just brute hate and the person is unreasonable we delete it and mark it as spam because that’s what haters are.

What’s the mantra to getting noticed and becoming a YouTube sensation?
It’s a combination of the right content and the right marketing of the content. As content creators, one must be honest and talk about the things you want to talk about and not pander. Yes, there may be times and reasons to make a couple of videos to set things right but that’s it. Have a voice, an original voice and the rest will follow. Whereas when it comes to hitting the right notes with the audience, a lot of things like timing, distribution, communication among various other things matter. It is here that Culture
Machine’s support helps us reach our goals, video on video. The team walks with us right from the inception of an idea to the final delivery and that is what every creator really needs.

RAPID FIRE

Any true stereotypes about South Indians?
We’re all good at Mathematics, the rest start channels on YouTube for a living

If you could gift a sense of humour to anyone in this country, who would you choose and why?
The Angry Young Indian

Name three personalities who you think can take a joke sportingly.
Arvind Kejriwal, Enna Da Rascalas

Finish the sentence: South Indians are your cool neighbours you should get to know

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‘‘I would have loved to be a detective in the NYPD’’

We’ve seen the multitalented Abish Mathew with nearly all of our other favourite acts – from Kanan Gill to AIB and more – and we love him in the Son of Abish, where he calls people on his show to ask them musing questions, the answers to which, sometimes, are a dig at his own personality. He shares with us his views on being a comedian

What inspired you to set up YouTube channel?
I used to follow a lot of YouTube channels who used to independently create content which used to appeal to me more than television did. And I had a bunch of ideas that I wanted to create and share. But there was no game plan other than “put funny content”.

How long does the process take from ideating for a video to planning and executing it?
If you are a procrastinator, this process takes from “Oh damn next week is my deadline” to “Death”. But if you’re serious about this craft, it’ll take from three days to a week. But my friend Kenny Sebastian makes a video and uploads it, all in five to six hours of ideating it to sharing it.

If you weren’t a comedian or a YouTuber, what would you have been?
I would have loved to be a detective in the NYPD. Effects of pop culture on children, eh? But most likely, if I wasn’t doing comedy+YouTube, I would have been struggling in bars trying to make my super hip fourpiece band get a gig.

What’s the mantra to getting noticed and becoming a YouTube?
Someone once told me, “When you want to say something profound, start with ‘Someone once told me.’” The mantra is to keep putting YOUR work that YOU think is funny and cool, and there are millions of people out there who have a similar sense of humour and think the same things are cool.

Which other YouTube sensation would you love to collaborate with?
I collaborate with my Indian favourites all the time. Internationally, I’d love to collaborate with Julian Smith, Barats and Bereta, Jus Reign, Taylor Ward, and consistently keep collaborating with Freddie Wong.

How do you deal with negative criticism?
As far as dealing with people like that is concerned, you keep what you can use and throw away the abuse.

RAPID FIRE

If you could gift a sense of humour to anyone in this country, who would you choose and why?
I will not answer that question because I haven’t been able to give them a sense of humour yet and if I give you a name they might not take it in the right spirit of humour and I will end up dead. You see the paradox in the question? Nolan should have come to me

What, according to you, can absolutely never be joked about or made fun of?
I’m still struggling with that one. I’ ll keep you posted

Finish the sentence: Indians on the Internet are
Amazing 🙂 (It’s absurd you’ ll expect me to say anything other than a positive answer, they’re my bread and butter)

rajashree

‘‘Every day brings a strong creative energy with it’’

Rajeshree Naik, co-founder and director of PING Network, had foreseen the shift in media consumption into the digital space. “It would not be about digital marketing, but marketing in a digital world,” she says, owing to her experience as Head of Marketing at De Beers and a year’s stint at INSEAD, before turning to the entrepreneurial world. Joining the PING network, she says, “seemed like a natural fit.” With 450 channels, they also work with young talent to build their own television front-ends. She tells us about the excitement of the digital media sector

How did the inspiration for PING Network come about?
The founding team at PING are from broadcast backgrounds: Govindraj Ethiraj and Prashanto Das both worked together at Bloomberg-UTV. The first person to join them was Anagha Radhyadaksha who heads up our talent and acquisitions piece. They all have had stints in television networks and when PING was started, the idea originated from the need be able to create content that talks to the audience of tomorrow. More so this also coincided with YouTube’s own interests in actively working with creators to build the content eco-system. Thus began our journey.

How does PING Network function?
We work with creators who are already online and provide them with multiple services which helps them grow their audiences and also monetize better. The second set of creators we work with are professionals, very skilled individuals within their category, and we believe audiences would connect with them. For
instance, food chefs like Vicky Ratnani or Michael Swamy, Atul Kasbekar in photography, Yasmin
Karachiwalla in fitness, or DJ Suketu in music.

How does one go about getting YouTube certified?
This is done through YouTube. You can register for the YouTube Certification course and once you get an invite to go through the programme, you need to go through modules and do some online tests. On successful completion, you get awarded your YT certification.

How does PING Network ensure that it stays on top?
The good thing is every company has naturally carved a niche for itself. So actually, each of the six Multi
channel Networks (MCNs) are quite different. At the DNA of PING is our creation capability. We have also carved a niche for ourselves in categories such as food, education, and gaming. More importantly, all the content within our network stays true to our core of utility, information and knowledge. The other niche we have carved for ourselves is in news. Boom, our news product, is India’s first digital video news network.

RAPID FIRE

Which would you say is your favourite YouTube channel?
Without a doubt, India Food Network

Portraying and breaking stereotypes: clichéd and overdone or necessary and relevant?
Necessary and relevant

Things that the Indian media needs to improve on, professionally?
TV News doesn’t exist anymore, it’s now entertainment. For TV news, look to government channels like DD, Rajya Saha TV and Lok Sabha TV. For news, you will need to find an alternative

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‘‘I wanted people to see me changing to change themselves’’ 

Leading the young Indian to a healthier lifestyle has been Mangalore-based Shreyas Kamath’s aim through his channel, Teen Bodybuilding India. An International Sports and Sciences Association (ISSA) certified personal trainer, this 21-year old’s channel has more than 13k loyalists. He tells us how determination led him to begin this journey a year back

What inspired you to start your channel?
More than inspiration, it was determination. When I started working out, I was misguided many times by people. I was an unhealthy person myself when I started the channel. I wanted people to see me changing and start changing themselves. YouTube was a platform that I could use not only to spread a word about fitness, but also fulfil my dreams.

Do you ever get negative comments for your videos? How do you deal with them?
I get negative comments all the time. I had deactivated my channel in February 2013 because of it. I started back the channel six months later. Things didn’t change. There were a lot of admirers but a handful of people who disliked and criticized my content. But then I realized that I had to do this for the people who like my content and for myself. People made fun of my accent, the way I speak English. But I knew that if my content is truthful, then people will like me and that is what is happening now.

Have you inspired people through your videos?
There are so many instances where people have told me how this channel has motivated them to get off the couch and lead a healthy lifestyle, especially people who are above the age of 35. I started this channel hoping to motivate the youth, but I have realized that my voice is being heard by people of all ages.

How important is it for the young Indian audience, especially girls, to take to fitness today?
It is very important for the youth because nowadays most of the people don’t even think about their health. They forget that human body is meant to work, not rest. We are supposed to ‘eat to live, not live to eat.’ Also, my message for the young girls and women of this country is to GET STRONG. The only way a woman can look like a man is through testosterone and you don’t have enough of it. So, lift weights for your overall health and forget about all the myths that you have heard.

RAPID FIRE

Who is the fittest celebrity in the country?
I personally feel Bipasha Basu has been very fit from the time she landed in Bollywood. I am not taking the names of sportsmen because they are supposed to be fit

A person whom you’d love to have the chance to physically train?
I would really love to train an athlete because training a person for performance and injury prevention
would be a great challenge

One common mistake every person undoubtedly makes on their first day in the gym?
The biggest mistake that I find beginners making in the gym is thinking that MORE IS BETTER. They
spend hours in the gym from the first day itself forgetting that beginners are meant to give their body
enough rest since your body is doing something for the first time

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‘‘Be original and create content which you would like to watch’’

A resident of Mumbai, Omkar Bhagat runs The Curious Engineer, an edutainment channel where he uses doodles to explain complex topics. It has a huge fan following of more than 30k subscribers, and you only have to see it to know why. Currently in his final year of computer engineering, the witty artist takes out time between exams to tell us all about his channel

how and why did you start your YouTube channel?
I started my channel two years ago when I used to follow channels like thenewboston. It changed my view about YouTube and I thought to myself that even I can create video tutorials about programming languages to help my class. Minutephysics inspired me to make illustration based edutainment videos which help to convert complex/boring topics into simple and entertaining ones.

How do you simplify concepts to ensure that the learner understands it through the video?
To be honest, I like to simplify things because I usually don’t get it in the first place. So I try to put it in a way that I can understand, and illustrations help me form stories and connect the dots, making learning
even more fun.I try to assume that the viewer has zero knowledge about the topic and I try to build a story around it. If it’s fun to watch, it becomes easy to learn.

Do you collaborate with anyone?
I collaborate with Untamed Science (Haley and Rob). They help me with the narrations as my accent isn’t really great for global audience. I’m open to collaborations but time is a constraint so I’ve kept all those on hold till I’m done with my engineering and get my channel back to life.

How has the journey on YouTube been?
Everything has been awesome (even when I’m not too active on my channel). I have been invited to
Google Office and YouTube events, hired by MinuteEarth (second channel by MinutePhysics), invited to
talk about my story in engineering colleges, get my video shared by, get my story published in
Maharashtra times, and plenty of other good things.I can say I have learned a lot more than what my engineering degree would’ve taught me.

What has the feedback been like over the years?
The feedback in YouTube comments is always a mixture of good and the bad. But overall the response is awesome. It feels great when your video helps viewers with their home work or when it makes them more interested in a particular topic. But it’s much more flattering when a professor appreciates your work or when ISRO shares your work for its accuracy.

What’s the mantra to getting noticed and becoming a YouTube sensation amongst the already existing videos as well as the millions being uploaded every day?
The mantra is to be original and create content which you would like to watch. And keep improving with
every new video. If your content is worth watching, you’ll be noticed eventually.

RAPID FIRE

A webcomic that you follow
Cyanide and Happiness

Your role model/someone you look up to
Neil deGrasse Tyson

A book, movie or tv show that inspires you
Suits (TV Show)

In an alternate universe, what would you be doing right now?
I would be a pilot

vasuda_sharma

“It’s important to review negative comments too”

The cheery musician with the voice of an angle, Vasuda Sharma began her musical expedition with the band Aasma. She tells us all about her experience as an upcoming YouTube starlet

How has the journey been since Aasma?
Aasma was an incredible experience. Over the years, the band grew, we all grew as artists and followed our individual paths and pursued things we wanted to. My passion to write and sing my own songs made me an indie musician and I am really happy with the way it has turned out.

What inspired you to become a singer?
I have been singing since I was four. My aunt introduced me to music at a very early age and my childhood has been full of learning Brij folk songs and rasiyas. I took up Hindustani vocal training and learned at the Berklee College of Music much later. Taking it up as a career option was something that wasn’t planned.

How long does the process take from composing to executing for YouTube?
My song writing process varies. Sometimes I come up with a song in a day and build on it later. Sometimes
I just get a hook or a melody but no words. Once the idea is laid down, I keep building on it and give it a
week to be sure before I lock the arrangement. Once the audio is done, I think of a video and the concept. I sometimes also sit and brainstorm with my production team. Once all that is sorted, we shoot it, edit it and release it with the support of the team at Culture Machine.

Which is your favourite: Live performance or a recording session? Why?
Live performance is instant gratification and then it’s over. Studio recording and production is extremely
satisfying when the song is finally completed. It’s hard to decide coz I love performing and composing both. But I think If I were to choose, it would be studio session coz I love ideating and laying down stuff and
creating new things.

RAPID FIRE

A band or a singer that you would love to compose for?
I’ d love to compose for this fabulous singer I discovered recently – Kalpana Patowary from Aasam. I think she has an impeccable voice

Best part about being an independent artist?
I am my own boss and it helps because I am eccentric when it comes to my music

A genre you haven’t explored yet but love to do so in the near future?
Electronic music

reenie

“Constructive criticism is not a bad thing”

Indie pop singer, songwriter and performer, Reenie Mansata is known to create the balance of catchy tunes
and meaningful lyrics with her songs. She gives us a peek into her life as a YouTuber

What inspired you to set up the channel?
Internet platforms for video content such as YouTube have clearly taken over television in terms of their
accessibility, convenience and most importantly worldwide coverage. Being an artist, setting up my own
YouTube channel was a must.

Have you ever received feedback on your videos?
Yes, I’ve occasionally had people walk up to me in person at events to give me their views on something if they feel strongly about it. It’s endearing and I love the personal responses that my followers have.

How do you deal with criticism?
Everything in life has two sides to it and while there are loads of fans and people who love you and love what you do, there are always a few who feel otherwise. Besides, constructive criticism is not a bad thing. It is helpful in keeping things in check and preventing you from getting complaisant.

What’s your USP?
One of the few key factors in ensuring that you have your audience interested and increasing in numbers is to stay connected with them by uploading videos on your channel on a regular basis, ideally at least once a week. My USP is that I have a very real and genuine approach to creating my videos and I showcase intriguing and inspiring people on my show who are real life heroes. Normal, real and excessively talented people who have something to share with the world and I am that person who gives them the exposure they need or deserve. As far as the music is concerned, I do original songs and support them with videos that complement them. I’ve been blessed with positive and encouraging responses for the most part and always strive to push my boundaries and improve.

RAPID FIRE

Your favourite channels that you regularly watch or subscribe to?
Daniela Andrade, Kygo, Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Kimmel, SuperWoman, FoodFood, and Humansofny

When you aren’t making videos you love to…
Travel, cook and watch YouTube

Which other YouTuber would you love to collaborate with?
That’s a tough one, but totally Beyonce

Finish the sentence: Indians on the Internet are evolving

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“I am blessed with an amazing audience”

With over 30 million views and one lakh 75 thousand subscribers, Shruti Anand is a style and make up guru who has inspired divas and fashionistas alike. She speaks about her journey

Since when did you start making YouTube videos? What inspired you to set up the channel?
I started my channel back in March 2011, I used to see other YouTubers’ videos and thought this is something interesting, I love both art and technology, I can do this!

Is generating content for you pursue careers apart from this field of entertainment?
It depends on what kind and how much content you are planning to develop. I usually make two to three
ideos a week and work around 45 hours a week. When I started, I was doing a full time IT job along with
YouTube for almost two years. Later, I shifted back to India and since then I am working on YouTube full
time.

How has the journey of four years on YouTube been for you? What have you learnt and how do you identify with your audience today?
It’s been an amazing four years. When you work for so many people and interact with them, it automatically makes you calm and secure in life. I have learnt a lot from YouTube, and I try to understand others perspective before judging them.

How does it feel to be recognized by people you meet as ‘the girl in that YouTube video’?
It’s exciting and at the same time when people start staring you it feels like you’re exposed. You won’t believe this. When I was hospitalized last week, the nurse who was giving me an injection said “you make hairstyle videos on YouTube, right?” I was shocked and happy at the same time!

What’s the mantra to getting noticed and becoming a YouTube sensation amongst the already existing videos as well as the millions being uploaded every day?
You need to practice before you preach. While you’re practicing for a makeup look or a hairstyle to make
your work easy, teach yourself tips. Make a list of them and share it. Also, signing up with Culture
Machine has immensely helped my channel and its growth.

RAPID FIRE

Name three personalities who you think are the most glamorous in India.
Sonam Kapoor, Jacqueline Fernandez, Priyanka Chopra

If you could collaborate with any other (Indian or international) YouTube sensation, who would it be?
A tough one, but my favorite is shaaanxo

Which is India’s fashion capital? 
Mumbai

A beauty hack to transform yourself from work makeup to a party look?
Dramatic eyeliner and bold lipstick

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“Make videos about what you’re passionate about”

Tech reviewer Clinton Jeff has been a favourite among the tech circles for the past few years, both for his blog, UnleashThePhones. com, and his eponymous YouTube channel. Currently a Product PR Lead for
India at Xiaomi, where he also runs their YouTube channel (a professional YouTuber, if you will), he resides in Bengaluru and tells us about his channel

What inspired you to set up your channel?
Initially my YouTube account was just to view other YouTube videos, like everyone else. One day, I decided I was going to upload a video to give my blog readers a better idea of a phone. That was years ago, but I’ve been doing this ever since. Of course my quality is much better now though! The main reason why I decided to make these videos was to help people make a better informed decision as to which smartphone to buy.

What clicks and what doesn’t?
It really depends on the type of channel you have, but it always pays to be aware of the current trend. For
example, when the photo of “The Dress” was taking over the internet, a couple of clever YouTubers made a video explaining why some people saw it as Blue-and-Black, and why some saw it as White-and-Gold. Similarly, as a tech YouTuber, I try to make videos of the latest phones or products. It also definitely helps to be just be yourself on your channel. Everybody has an amazing quality about themselves, you just need to show your viewers that side of you.

How long does the process take from ideating to executing it?
Generally for phone reviews, I’d take two-three days just to write a script, a day to film everything, and another day or two to edit it.

How does it feel to be recognized by people as ‘the guy in that YouTube video’?
I honestly, seriously cannot get over that. Everytime someone comes up to me and says “Hey, aren’t you that guy that talks about phones on YouTube?”, I get really excited and nerd-out. It’s not something you can ever really be prepared for. But the times it happens, and the times I get someone saying “Hey, thanks for this phone recommendation!” it just generally feels awesome.

What’s the mantra to getting noticed on YouTube?
If you feel really passionate about a certain topic, you just need to start making videos about it. It could be
tech, a cooking guide, you singing or playing an instrument, or just a vlog about situations you’re going through in life. Like with my videos, I’m very honest and detailed about what I think of a product, but I
also try to make them a little funny too.

How do you deal with negative criticism?
I don’t think there’s a single YouTuber out there who hasn’t got negative criticism. Sometimes it is constructive criticism, like this one time when my viewers told me I needed a better backdrop to my videos. But sometimes it’s just pure hate, and you just have to make like Taylor Swift, and shake it off.

Rapid Fire

What phone do you own (currently)?
A Xiaomi Mi4

Someone you look up to?
Ray William Johnson, he’s definitely one of the coolest YouTubers on the planet

In an alternate universe, what would you be doing right now?
Probably coding behind a desk in a cubicle somewhere

A book, movie or TV show that inspires you?
This is going to sound crazy, but I really thought “The Devil Wears Prada” was hugely inspiring

 

Volume 4 Issue 12