Voice of the public: How ace creator Ashish Chanchlani stays real and raw, both in life and with his content

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Tune in to this exciting, freewheeling chat with Ashish Chanchlani, as the top creator breaks down his theory of plugging social commentary into comedy, never basking in the glory of the last best hit and keeping it cool and calm in desi style, only at YourStory’s Creators Inc conference
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Digital content creator Ashish Chanchlani boasts of a staggering 27.3 million and counting subscribers on YouTube. In 2018, Ashish collaborated with one of his personal favourites, Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar ahead of the release of the film Gold. In another of his dream collaborations, Ashish was invited for the promotion of Rohit Shetty’s Sooryavanshi. A die-hard Marvel fan, Ashish was invited to the red carpet premiere of Avengers: Endgame in Los Angeles

But what if Ashish tells you that he had to fight stage fright? “I think I've worked on it because when I had an opportunity in school I was scared. I had stage fear. And what if I tell you I was an introvert in school? Would you believe that?,” asks the young, trailblazing creator. Ashish was speaking to Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO, YourStory, at the YourStory Creators Inc conference 2022, presented in partnership with social commerce platform Trell. 

Growing up in Maharashtra, Ashish was exposed to the world of cinema, especially Bollywood courtesy his parents who owned a multiplex in Mumbai. Ashish enjoyed mimicry and acting in plays while in school.

“Shradhaji, mujhe chance hi nahi milta tha. Main chashma pehanta tha aur stage pe chashma nikaal ke chala gaya, mereko audience dikhi nahi rahi hain abhi main andha hu, sirf taaliyo ki awaaz aa rahi hain, sirf hasne ki awaaz aa rahi hain (I would never really get an opportunity to perform onstage. I wore glasses and whenever I had to go on stage, I had to remove them, which would render me as good as blind. I couldn’t see the audience. All I could hear would be the claps and the laughs),” he recalls.

Ashish first came across vines or the six-second videos in his Facebook feed in 2014. Falling in love with perhaps the tiniest storytelling format, he uploaded his first comedy vine the same year. 

Seizing an opportunity in the still-nascent world of vines, Ashish stood out for an unapologetic desi style. Did you know that his very first video that got viral on Youtube went with the title Tu Mere Baap ko Janta Nahi Hai? He soon graduated to making 15-second videos and posting them on Instagram. 

Ashish credits his stint as an engineering student for his growth as a human being and a man, ready to take on and survive in this "evil world". 

“I learned something very important early on: That no matter what your looks are, no matter where you come from, irrespective of society norms, it's confidence that takes you to a place,” says Ashish. And this he calls his winning formula. 

The stress of being on top

But what about performance-related anxiety or stress that happens to even the best in the business? At a time when mental health as a subject is gaining a rising currency in blogs and podcasts, can creators themselves be shy of talking about this subject sans the stigma? 

“See, Shradhaji you told me that I am one of you guys and that you feel very proud. So absolutely, I also have these sides in me (like any one of us). Actually, everybody has it, to be honest. It's just that some people talk about it and some don’t. I choose to always talk about how I go through a lot of stress and performance anxiety. Yes, I do. A lot of it has to do with the fact that I never expected to receive so much love from people,” comes the honest answer from the creator who likes to keep it real and grounded. 

At the end of it, the hard work and the heart that you put into your matter keeps you going, says the creator at the centre of creatorverse. “Make sure that you are also updated to what the audience wants. That is very important. So yes, stress bahut hota hai (the stress is real).”

But what is the secret to staying so true, so grounded? 

“When it comes to the personality and the flavour of the content I've always made sure that the authenticity and the rawness remain. And I love to be part of the public. I love to be a voice of the public; I don't want to sound like a journalist or some actor. I love to deliver comedy that's from the public for the public. I think it's the relatability and the more you are into your public the more you're into your audience, you evolve with them along the way. I think people just go on this beautiful journey with you as well,” says Ashish demystifying any celebrity aura or intellectual whitewashing. 

The 'deal'-maker, from slapstick to social commentary 

Ashish says that he has been making "slapstick comedy videos" that are "diluted" or "nonsensical", and which are easy to watch. 

But around two years ago, during his conversations with his mother, sister and friends, they shared their experiences of being at the receiving end of harassment on the street. He was pissed off that they had to face this. “So, I came up with a video called The Dealer featuring Barkha Singh that dealt with women’s safety, but it was not in your face or preachy. It was completely sketch-based on how a girl tricks the molesting driver. She gets back to him in her own savage manner. This video was game-changing for us,” recalls Ashish.  

Delivering a powerful message on molestation and crimes against women, The Dealer went viral with 15 million views and more than 2.3 million likes within two days itself.

“I started getting calls and messages from women, my female fans," recalls Ashish. These were messages of praise. And in his own way, Ashish is pushing boundaries, blending in a tinge of social commentary and gender empowerment messaging with a tinge of satire, packaged in a cool entertainment nugget without any overt tonality.

How to be Ashish Chanchlani - is there a formula? 

Today, as the Indian creator economy is waiting to explode with close to 50 million creators, and where a creator is being born every second, is there a sureshot way to reach the top? Is there a way to become the content superstar Ashish Chanchlani? In other words, how to be the showstoppers of this show-stopping, new-age game of content creation and not, perhaps, get lost in the sea?

“There's no formula to success. If we are talking about the numbers, it is the research, the patience, and the ability to evolve every time you are making content that matters,” says Ashish.  

Here’s the Ashish Chanchlani checklist of content creation for all aspiring content creators:

  • Creating consistently: In order to become a big creator, no matter what you make, no matter how successful it is, you can't keep on banking on it. For example, “if bijli ka bill tera baap bharega” worked for me, I moved on to create other things. If I was going to get stuck to it, and bask in the success I would still be there, stuck in 2018,” says Ashish, warning budding creators against getting complacent. 
  • Beating your last best: The goal is to always beat what you did the last time. It's impossible, but it’s important to strive for the infinite, says Ashish, urging creators to set the limitless as the goal. Your audience will reward you for your efforts and best intentions. “I think honesty is something that works brilliantly with  your audience. Not honest to anybody else, but being honest to yourself,” says Ashish.  

Catch YourStory's Creators Inc conference here.

For more on other key initiatives as part of the conference, visit our Creators Inc. website here.

Recognising the burgeoning creator ecosystem and the new wave of entrepreneurship that comes with it, YourStory is celebrating the works of both established and emerging influencers in an initiative aimed at identifying, celebrating and accelerating the journey of digital creators who make extraordinary, unique and engaging content. We've partnered with Trell to bring you the Top 100 Creators challenge, which you can apply for here.

Edited by Tenzin Pema

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