“Social networks alu jaisa hai… (Social media is like potato. Everybody has it),” said Bhuvan Bam, the country’s second most popular YouTuber (in terms of subscribers), at TechSparks 2022.
When asked to reveal the secret behind staying relevant in such an environment, he said: “Not everyone can stay relevant forever. The best thing you can do is keep doing what you love… If you keep thinking about relevance, you will end up living in fear.”
In the 13th edition of Your historyTechSparks flagship event, Bhuvan was joined by his right-hand man, Rohit Raj, for a fireside chat with Shradha Sharma, founder and CEO of Your history.
BB Ki Vines Production co-founders Rohit and Bhuvan became producers in 2016 when they launched the long-form web series. Dhindora. While he declined to share revenue figures, Rohit revealed that he was “good enough to help make things work.”
For context, BB Ki Vines Production has 775k subscribers on YouTube and 221k subscribers on Instagram. A comedian, writer, singer, talk show host, and YouTube sensation, Bhuvan is a brand today. But the rise to success was quite unusual for the small town of Vadodara. The 28-year-old began his journey with a 20-second video using a new phone that he had just bought. To his surprise, the video started trending in Pakistan. And the rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Oblivious to his immense talent and how he changed the rules in the Indian entertainment industry, Bhuvan attributes his success to sheer luck.
“Most YouTube channels back then (when he started creating content) were just groups of six to seven people. And everyone was producing content in English while I had a strong hand in Hindi… Main pair bohot vella tha, koi kaam nahi tha (But I had a lot of free time available, I didn’t have a lot of work to do), and I really wanted to express what I thought in front of people,” said Bhuvan.
A universe of unique characters
Since then, Bhuvan has created and played over 16 unique characters, each 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 by real life, but of course with a lot of exaggeration. Characters beloved of him include Bablu, Janki, adrak slime, papa maakichu, banchoddas, Samer FuddyY mom title.
“Social media is not rocket science. What I did was take my time and allow my audience to find me,” said Bhuvan during the candid chat at TechSparks. The content creator also revealed that he continues to use the same phone that first brought him to his audience: a Google Pixel 1.
Having found his audience set today: 25.6 million subscribers and counting YouTube and 15 million Instagram followers, Bhuvan believes that it is no longer a universe based on creators but one based on algorithms.
When he began his journey down this unknown path of being a digital creator, Bhuvan’s ultimate 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 myself, that it was an unconventional path, but if I could do it, it would turn out to be great,” he said.
As of early 2021, Bhuvan’s YouTube channel BB Ki Vines recorded a collective three billion views, making him the first digital content creator in the country to achieve this milestone. But all these numbers mean nothing to the social media star.
“Social media is just a hit or miss. You have to stay sane and do whatever it is you’re doing at your own pace… If you stress about likes and subscribers, then you won’t be able to do your job very well,” she said.
Today, BB Ki Vines Productions works with companies like Man Company and LensKart. However, the duo had to fight their way to get here.
Rohit said: “For the first four years, we have only heard ‘no’. This was mainly because what we were doing was very unconventional. But over the years, there has been a paradigm shift and now much 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 debut OTT Taaza News It will air on Disney Plus Hotstar, and it’s unlike any of his previous projects.
When asked if he had ever fallen victim to algorithms, Bhuvan said: “Money and algorithms are the last thing on our minds. There are so many ideas in my mind, I want to execute them and I want to leave a legacy.”
Rohit agrees: “The ultimate goal is to stay true to the stories.”