Ashish Chanchlani is indeed the OG funny man of YouTube, and he started creating videos way before content creation became the new cool and earlier this month he achieved the milestone of 25 million subscribers on the platform, becoming only the second Indian creator to achieve that.
In an exclusive conversation with Spotboye.com, the YouTuber gets candid about his journey, Internet trolling and backlash, doing comedy in today’s time and more. Read excerpts from the interview:
Ashish, the milestone of achieving 25 million subscribers, and being just the second Indian to do that. What is the importance of this feat for you?
It just means that the audience is loving and appreciating you. It’s a dreamy and unrealistic feeling and I am just pinching myself every day. With every milestone, my journey is just going upwards.
You and CarryMinati aka Ajey Nagar are the only two exclusive members of this 25 million subscribers club. So, have you two had any celebration for that?
I don’t think there’s a club as such, but I don’t feel anything different between me and a common man to celebrate it. I am also like everyone just with a little bit more subscribers on YouTube. But now that you have mentioned it, I will talk to Carry about planning some celebration.
We have seen so much in our careers that there is rather more of a fear that since good things are happening so quickly, is there a plot twist in the coming. ALSO READ: Youtuber Ashish Chanchlani Is Over The Moon As His Latest Video The Dealer Touches 49 Million Views On Digital Platform
You started content creation way before it became a norm in India. How did that content creation bug bite you?
I always wanted to become an actor. I was in civil engineering when I used to be the class clown. People used to come and have a conversation with me. Even if someone was in the worst mood, I would make them laugh. From there I realised that I have an engaging quality and I knew how to hold on to conversations, so I must utilise it.
That time people didn’t even know that you can entertain through videos. There were only big people like AIB and TVF and it was my dream to work with them. I also learnt from international viners like Logan Paul. There wasn’t a culture like that in India and I thought we must. So, I started after getting inspired from them.
My first three videos were copied and they didn’t work at all. But then I realised that our crowd is desi who enjoy masala, so I made my first original video on Maggi, where I was a man who couldn’t find the Maggi masala and was crying on an Om Shanti Om song, and it worked. That made me decide I wanted to do that only. I had to just grasp on the issues that our people are struggling with and play with it. ALSO READ: YouTuber Bhuvan Bam Loses Both Parents To COVID-19: Rajkummar Rao, Varun Dhawan, Tahira Kashyap, Richa Chadha, And Others Offer Condolences
You do so many characters for your videos like playing your mom and dad. Now, they must understand the concept, but initially did your parents ever scold you for the way you were portraying them.
People would often ask me that I abuse in my videos, so don’t my parents say anything about that, but there I don’t get any backlash. However, once my mom yelled at me because she was concerned how people would perceive her to be after the way I portrayed the Mummy character. I just told her that I put a disclaimer before the video so that there is no confusion and it was all imaginary. So, there was a lot of convincing her in the beginning.
What is your favourite character that you do and any new character that you’d want to create?
My favourite character is the dad. Many people do the dad character but I have a unique style. Mine is always frustrated and he becomes savage in that. I like its style and comebacks. Even Bhuvan Bam does a dad character and even his is a very relatable one but he is a meek and introverted dad.
As for a new one, I want to bring a don character, who is a very stupid don. Someone who thinks highly of himself but isn’t in reality.
Your profession is comedy, and today it’s one of the most dangerous fields with people getting offended easily. Do you ever feel scared before putting up a video?
Never, because I have made a rule that I will never touch religion and politics. There are a lot of sentiments attached to these two and even my parents told me never to do anything about them. The closest I have been to making content on them is showing festivals like Holi and Diwali, but there also I try to find out what can be comical in it, rather than making anything against it.
There is still a fear sometime about what if people find any indirect connection, but thankfully nothing controversial has happened yet. I hate controversy and I don’t want any fame and money that comes with it.
In today’s time of digital exposure, almost everyone claims to be a content creator. Don’t you feel that has kind of diluted the meaning of what it truly used to be?
I agree with that. Although it doesn’t affect me, I feel that genuine and talented people are unable to shine due to that. All these apps have made everyone an editor and everyone thinks that they can sit at home and become a viral sensation. But that is the problem, as those who get viral are the ones who never do it with that intention.
And I have to say that I hate the word influencer. I prefer getting abused than being called that. I don’t influence anything, I just entertain. And if there is any influence, I call it awareness. People like Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and Gandhi ji were influencers, not us. I prefer being called unfunny than being called an influencer and many people resonate with this sentiment. Influencer word has now become a business, and it has spoilt that name. Everyone thinks that they can be an influencer today and that is a big problem. But I never judge anyone on it.
And it’s like one person makes a content and everyone stretches it beyond limits to utilise that clout…
Yes, like take Carry’s example. He has been an amazing roaster and people applaud him for it, but I love his editing more. I feel he is a fabulous editor and he had a flavour in his editing skills during 2017-18, and through that power he shone. But after looking at him and the boost he got, which was unheard of in the Indian digital industry, everyone started doing that. However, me, Carry and Bhuvan have been saying this for years that people should do something unique of their own. They don’t need to copy us as we don’t want to see that. And history has been proof that new and unique talents rise, be it Harsh Beniwal, Prajakta Koli or Beyounik. They all have their own personality and the audience loves them for it. If the audience sees two Ashish, they will be bored.
Social media celebrities get accused of being selective in raising their voices. You must also face that issue.
If you don’t speak up, then people accuse you for staying quiet and if you do, they ask you why, since we are comedians. Whichever side you speak for, the other side will question you. Everyday people abuse me for not raising my voice since I am an “influencer”, but all I want to say is that I am not an influencer. I am just an entertainer and it’s not my job. I’ll be responsible for what I am making and if I have to give out a message, I would put it through my content.
Ashish Chanchlani talking about something wouldn’t make a difference, unless there’s something very important that everyone is coming together for. But what the audience doesn't understand is that even if we do something right, we still get a lot of abuse. We get abused just because we are famous, be it for our silence or for our voice. So, I have decided to rather get abused for my silence. I am okay with that.
Common men can give out their opinion because social media isn’t their source of income, but we can’t. If we give out our point of view, it remains in the digital history, and even if we delete it, the screenshot remains, which can be used against us throughout our life. So, why should we dig our own grave? I have a lot of opinions on important issues but I discuss them with my friends and family in my personal life.
Our parents come from a generation that doesn't see social media as a stable source of income and that conditioning affects us too at times. So, was there any time when you were concerned about it and thought of maybe choosing a stable job?
I had that thought a lot of times. There was a point in time when I was almost about to quit this field, and I was famous then and had a million followers on Instagram. It was because I wasn’t able to earn from it as brand engagement and advertising through creators was the new thing then and I wasn’t able to crack it. It would go to big celebrities only and no one would approach us as they thought we were just creators making content on our phones and how much we could do. I am from a well-to-do family but we have had our fair share of struggles. My dad went through his problems. When you have a big family and house and your income stops, it’s a big problem to maintain that house and lifestyle.
So, I had just one aim in my life that I did not want to take a single penny from my dad as he had already done so much for me and it was time for me to stand up on my own feet. So, when I wasn’t able to earn digitally, I thought I would have to go into his business and have to take my dad’s help, and I hated that latter part as I hate being dependable on anyone, be it even my parents.
Suddenly, one brand came into my life and BeYounick (Nikunj) taught me about brand engagements. I was scared at first as I feared what my audience would think and they might stop watching my content. But they didn’t and my audience supported me and they do that till date. When I started earning from that in a stable way, even my parents realised that this is a big industry and today everything is on the internet. So, giving my time to social media was my best investment.
Now, your job has its own perks like you get to meet stars that any person can only dream of, like meeting Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie. So, what was the biggest interaction that you had because of your job?
Everything Marvel related and meeting Akshay Kumar was the biggest perk of my job. Meeting or even seeing any of the Marvel actors is like a dream come true. Seeing them is like watching a movie in itself, and it felt surreal meeting them. When I met Akshay Kumar, I was almost in tears as I have learned so much from him.
One of your peers, Harsh Beniwal did Student Of The Year 2 where he was the funny sidekick. You must also get a lot of Bollywood offers. Would you be comfortable doing such parts?
If you remove that funny character from the movie and it doesn’t affect the storyline, I wouldn’t be a part of it. I want to be a part of a project that makes me feel like I am a part of it and not just a cardboard cutout put in it.
Harsh did a fabulous job in SOTY2 and I watched and enjoyed the film because of him. His confidence on screen was commendable. I was happy and even Harsh was, but even he thought that with the talent he possesses, he deserved better. Irrespective, I will always be proud of him. As for me, I’d like it if someone comes to me for my talent, and not because I have 25 million subscribers.
Also, people expect comedians to just be comedians, but we can explore other characters too. I made a video where I played a pervert dealer, who was almost sexually harassing a girl, and I gave my 100 percent to it. But that was also for a comical purpose so that Barkha could be savage to me. We can play a lot of different roles, but we just need a chance.
Image source: Instagram/ashishchanchlani/Youtube/SpotboyE