I want to leave behind a legacy: YouTube sensation Bhuvan Bam
“Social media alu jaisa hai… Abhi sab ke ghar mein hai (Social media is like potato. Everyone has it),” said Bhuvan Bam, the second most popular YouTuber in the country (in terms of subscribers), at TechSparks 2022.
When asked to reveal the secret sauce behind staying relevant in such an environment, he said, “Not everyone can stay relevant forever. The best you can do is continue doing what you love… If you keep thinking about relevance, you will end up living in fear.”
At the 13th edition of YourStory’s flagship event TechSparks, Bhuvan was accompanied by his right-hand man, Rohit Raj, in a fireside chat with Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO of YourStory.
Co-founders of BB Ki Vines Production, Rohit and Bhuvan turned producers in 2016 when they launched the long-form web series Dhindora. While refusing to share revenue numbers, Rohit revealed that it was “good enough to help things going”.
For context, BB Ki Vines Production has 775k subscribers on YouTube and 221k subscribers on Instagram. A comedian, writer, singer, talk-show host, and a YouTube sensation, Bhuvan is a brand today. But the rise to success was rather unusual for the small-townie from Vadodara. The 28-year-old started his journey with a 20-second video using a new phone he had just bought. Much to his surprise, the video started trending in Pakistan. And the rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Oblivious of his immense talent and how he changed the rules in the Indian entertainment industry, Bhuvan credits his success to sheer luck.
“Most of the YouTube channels back then (when he first started creating content) were merely groups of six to seven people. And everyone was producing content in English while I had a strong hand in Hindi… Par main bohot vella tha, koi kaam nahi tha (But I had a lot of free time in hand, I did not have much work to do), and I was really hungry to put out a piece of my mind in front of people,” Bhuvan said.
A universe of unique characters
Since then, Bhuvan has created and played more than 16 unique characters–with their own quirks and mannerisms. And this universe of unique characters is his USP. Interestingly, most of Bhuvan’s on-screen characters are inspired from real life, but, of course, with a lot of exaggeration thrown in. His loved characters include Bablu, Janki, Adrak Baba, Papa Maakichu, Bhanchoddas, Sameer Fuddi, and Titu Mama.
“Social media is not rocket science. What I did was take my time and allow my audience to find me,” Bhuvan said during the candid conversation at TechSparks. The content creator also revealed that he continues to use the same phone that first brought him closer to his audience–a Google Pixel 1.
Having found his set of audience today–25.6 million subscribers and counting on YouTube and 15 million followers on Instagram, Bhuvan believes that it not a creator-based universe anymore but one based on algorithms.
When he first started his journey in this unfamiliar path of being a digital creator, Bhuvan’s end goal was never to achieve a certain set of likes and followers.
“I was trying to prove to my parents, my relatives, and most importantly to myself that it was an unconventional path but if I could make it, it would turn out to be great,” he said.
At the beginning of 2021, Bhuvan’s YouTube channel BB Ki Vines recorded three billion collective views, making him the country’s first digital content creator to achieve this milestone. But all these numbers mean nothing to the social media star.
“Social media is only a hit or a miss. You have to keep sane and do whatever you are doing at your own pace… If you stress about the likes and subscribers, then you will not be able to do your job too well," he said.
Today, BB Ki Vines Productions works with the likes of Man Company and LensKart. However, the duo had to slog their way up to reach here.
Rohit said, “For the first four years, we have only heard ‘no's. This was mostly because what we were doing was very unconventional. But over the years, there has been a paradigm shift and now a lot of the marketing budget is moving towards creators.”
Bhuvan recently announced his first OTT project under BB Ki Vines Productions. Created by Abbas Dalal and Hussain Dalal, the OTT debut Taaza Khabar will be aired on Disney Plus Hotstar, and it is unlike any of his earlier projects.
When asked if he has ever fallen prey to algorithms, Bhuvan said, “Money and algorithms are the last things we think about. There are so many ideas in my mind, I want to execute them and I want to leave behind a legacy.”
Rohit agrees, “The end goal is to stay true to the stories.”
Edited by Teja Lele