Imagine asking a random girl on the street about the size of a man’s private part. Well, you would expect her to smack the person. But Youtuber Sahil Khattar, host of immensely popular web channel Being Indian owned by Culture Machine, asks the most controversial question with utter suave and élan.
One of the pioneers in the realm of individual content creation, Sahil today is a beacon for many who intend and are ambitious enough to tread on a lesser taken path, on own terms and emerge victorious.
Funny in dialogue but extremely intelligent in thought, Sahil entered into a candid conversation with Indianwikimedia and left us pretty impressed with his defined & deliberate repartee. Here’s documenting the tête-à-tête. Excerpts:
For the uninitiated, what is Being Indian all about?
(sips waters) Let me explain. We Indians don’t like to laugh at ourselves and like they say, charity always begins at home. We need to look inwards, so we came out with two formats, namely relatable quirky funny observations about existing stereotypes (Every Delhi Girl In The World) and street interviews (Mumbai on Tinder). If you notice the videos are well conceptualized, light satirical intelligent humour. Till date, we have uploaded over 300 videos and have garnered 200 million views. The clip which made people sit up and take notice was Pune on Sex as it was really far-fetched relatable to sex. It jumped mediums from Youtube to Facebook to Whatsapp, we have not looked back since then. Mumbai on Westernization and Punjabi’s on Phone also got lots of traction. For us, the core idea is always to make relatable content, not viral videos as people popular perceive.
We Indians don’t like to laugh at ourselves and like they say, charity always begins at home. Thus we came up with the formats
But some of your content is below the belt?
Internet is real while TV and films are surreal, naagin and makkhi based small screen shows get highest ratings, similarly India’s biggest film Baahubali is again fantasy. On the other hand, most online content is real, hence people connect. People question why we show abuse, but let’s face it in real life we do swear… right? Agreed some content might be below the belt but having said that, that’s how we talk unguarded among friends. While talking about cleavage and size of penis etc, we also touch upon serious issues like westernization, freedom of speech, women’s safety et al, the key is to strike a balance.
Can you throw a brief light on your background?
I began as a theater artist and Radio Jockey back in Chandigarh (hosting the show Love Guru). I shifted to Mumbai and started doing TV with Bindass and Star Plus but soon realized that I was not cut out for such regressive stuff and sorry to say, things have only gone downhill since then in terms of content. I believe in the philosophy that there is no perk without quirk, and found my mojo with Being Indian digital videos. I also anchor entertainment (Bindaas) and sports based TV shows (Star Sports and Sony Six).
People question why we show abuse, but let’s face it in real life we do swear… right?
When you ask a girl on the street about sex, does it not offend them?
More than the question, the tonality makes all the difference. You have to make them feel comfortable like I asked a black guy ‘about you dark people’, yet he laughed it off. My attitude does not smack of superiority complex which is a big turn off. Many others tried to ape us but few succeeded for we are grounded and importantly we also understand personalities i.e. knowing what type of content, he or she will end up giving.
More than the question what we ask, the tonality makes all the difference. You have to make them feel comfortable
How do you see the internet business scenario panning out?
It is all about valuation, you need to attract venture capitalists who would trust your vision and want to grow with you. Internet is the way of the future, and soon data will become the most important tool and those who control huge volumes of the same like Amazon and Netflix will become the new rich kids on the block.
Advice to upcoming Youtubers?
Try to make stuff unique stuff. It also needs to be intricately written, observational, quirky and yes, I keep coming back to numero uno point… that is to be relatable. Also best part of we Youtubers is that we like to collaborate, as it widens our thought process. So feel free to jump in the fray, with newer out of the box formats.