YouTube influencer with 30M subscribers, CarryMinati says relatability and authenticity are his biggest assets
CarryMinati is officially the most-followed YouTube influencer in India and Asia. Recently, the 21-year-old was roped in for his maiden acting innings in the Amitabh Bachchan-Ajay Devgn starrer thriller-drama Mayday to essay the eponymous role of a social media sensation. He also marked his foray in the music score of a Bollywood film with Abhishek Bachchan-starrer Big Bull.
Ajey was the only Indian to be listed in TIME Magazine’s ‘Top 10 Next Generation Leaders Of 2019' and also the only Indian digital creator to be roped in by Paramount Pictures for Mission Impossible Fall Out promotions with Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, and others. He has also dropped rap singles like Vardaan, Yalgaar, Zindagi, Trigger, Warrior, Bye Pewdiepie, and featured in Salim-Sulaiman’s Date Karle.
Carry Minati aka Ajey Nagar
CarryMinati has been winning audiences with his roasting videos, satirical parodies, diss tracks, and rap songs for over a decade now. Known for empowering the youth through his realistic, impactful, and thought-provoking content, his contextual videos touch upon relatable and trending topics, sprinkled with his signature dose of rib-tickling and appealing humour, which has earned him fans from across the world.
He was just 10 years old when he discovered YouTube and was instantly drawn towards the potentiality of it. “It was all very organic and let’s just say I was a curious kid. I remember in the start, I used to record myself doing all these crazy football tactics so that I could replay it a million times and learn from my slipups to ace the sport,” he says.
In an interview with YSWeekender, Carry Minati aka Ajey Nagar talks about being a youth icon, evolving as an artist over time, and controversies he’s been a part of.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
YS Weekender: With a large number of YouTubers, what makes you stand apart in the game?
CarryMinati: My USP is relatability and authenticity. My biggest win is the love and support I get from the masses by not being biased to any character and just being myself.
YSW: Tell us about how the process of making videos has changed from then to now?
CM: Earlier, it used to be unpolished and unrestricted, and now it’s more polished and yes, a bit restricted due to the new YouTube guidelines. It takes a lot more time now, sometimes months, to create a video because I need to make sure I am producing something special every time as opposed to earlier where it took me a day or two.
YSW: What holds the pulse of your audience, especially when they are very young?
CM: You need to speak the millennial’s soul language to be relatable. My platform is a place where you can set yourself free and be your most authentic self without being judged, and I think that’s the biggest vantage point. Experimental content is the king of new-age media today, and the algorithm loves you the most when content speaks to the audience and breaks stereotypes.
YSW: Which was the first video that went viral… and when did you feel you were doing something right?
CM: The video that went viral was a roast on the fellow creator BB Ki Vines. It was a video that got a lot of organic reach and gave me the mojo to create content non-stop after that.
YSW: Do you think, as an artist, you need to evolve… as you are growing older too?
CM: I am just 21. I feel we don’t need to be timebound when it comes to experimentation or progress. You evolve when you are emotionally and mentally ready and sense the necessity. As artists we are constantly evolving, else we would be redundant because your end user remains the same and to keep them invested for the long haul you need to constantly better what you are placing on the table.
There are times when I feel this will be my last video and I will do something else, but that day never comes. It is that surreal bond that keeps pulling me back into content creation like a magnet, it’s like I was destined for this. I prefer going with the flow rather than being dead serious about life, but I do have a moodboard and a vision for myself for the future and I take out time to nourish that vision.
There are days when I am looking at myself in the camera before a video upload and thinking aloud as to what I am doing with my life. We all come to that stage in life where we question our existence and what we want to give back to the world and the kind of legacy we want to leave behind. At times like these, I recall the hundreds of emails/messages/ comments of fans talking about how my videos helped them overcome difficult situations like depression, anxiety, and stress, and this gives me the motivation to do what I do every single day, without flinching an eyelid!
YSW: Tell us about the YouTube Vs TikTok controversy. Did you think it would create so much of controversy?
CM: It was due to constant requests from the fans that I decided to make a video on the topic that was quite relevant then. You see I respect my audience and I try to include their requests from time to time in the content I create. After a lot of ideating, strategising, and scripting, I made this video YouTube vs TikTok The End. The audience loved the video and it blew the roof with nearly 75 million views. It was about to set a global record and out of the blue, it was taken down by YouTube.
My audience, my team, and I were devastated and shocked. I was in a state of total disbelief and all the hypocrisy and hatred drove me into isolation mode. I stayed confined to my room for days and bottled up the angst. When I had fully detached myself from the controversy and moved on, we released Yalgaar, which broke many global records on the internet! Sometimes the worst brings out the best. I guess there’s a lot of inner debate and introspection, sometimes it’s a cathartic experience and sometimes it’s tumultuous.
YSW: You do a lot of roasts… are some really necessary as they seem to garner a lot of negative feedback?
CM: Most of the time the people or characters I roast more or less are fine with it because they understand it is done in good taste, but at times viewers start trolling the person roasted and then it becomes troublesome. You see when the internet explodes no one can have control over that! Sometimes I do get positive feedback from the people I roast, and there are a lot of requests on my direct messages and e-mails of people requesting me to roast them or their content as roasting is also a specialty and a genre of its own, which is trending and people enjoy it.
YSW: Being a celebrity comes with its share of trolls. How do you deal with them?
CM: You need to remember the criticism you get for your content and character played by you does not define you as a person and I try not to take the criticism too personally. I do try to be accountable and responsible on the internet in the best way possible. I never spread or support any type of hatred, cyber bullying or harassment in any form on my social media handles as I have also faced my share of stress and anxiety. As far as critics are concerned, they are not the torchbearers of the ultimate truth and nobody has ever questioned them on how their criticism may affect one’s mental health.
I still take their criticism in a healthy manner and try to improvise if there is scope, but if the criticism is out of context or out of my genre or based on assumptions, then it is quite disturbing. A lot of people might not know but I regularly get requests from various people to roast them and funnily the people I roast are not as offended and disturbed as the haters who react to the roasts.
YSW: Do you think you have a sustainable and rewarding career?
CM: The biggest achievement for me is to be able to positively impact so many lives and be a source of motivation and entertainment, in good and bad times. I believe you need to be careful about what you do and how you are going to do it. If you do YouTube for money and not for the passion of creating, you won’t be able to do it for long. Do you want to create content that nobody has ever seen before or do you want to become rich and famous? It’s okay if you just want to be rich and famous, a lot of people want that, but be true to yourself.
YSW: Tell us about your foray into music…
CM: Music helps me express myself better since I’m quite an introvert, and this aids me to speak my soul language. The response to my music releases has always been encouraging and motivates me to work harder. I am gaining a lot of interest in music now, which is also now part of my primary passion along with gaming and content creation. I am taking my time in harnessing my skills in a more disciplined fashion so that I can drop songs more frequently.
YSW: Does early fame come with its own disadvantages?
CM: My life could have gone in a lot of different directions just like anyone else because you have a multitude of choices always, but I feel this was destined. I can’t think of a time when I didn’t want to do this because it is my passion project. In my earlier days I told myself even if I don’t succeed, I would still be doing this. That was my mentality during that time and nothing has changed since.
There are pros and cons though. As a teenager, you also want to live a carefree life, which I missed out on because I was so engrossed in pursuing my passion. The good part is that I gained confidence as I was a reserved child who couldn’t express myself freely. It felt amazing to go from being invisible to being widely recognised, something like the superhero fictional films. The biggest gift was and is to actually get the unparallel support and respect from complete strangers in my good and bad times.
YSW: What are your future plans?
CM: To represent India on the world stage when it comes to content creation, music, and gaming, and further stretch my wings and keep flying.