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March 20, 2015

On ‘Tube today: The YouTube FanFest 2015

Text by Nittal Chandarana

Mumbai’s NSCI Stadium is transforming into a Vlog fan’s haven. Verve indulges in a candid conversation with Bethany Mota and TVF’s Arunabh Kumar

Some of your favourite YouTubers are congregating today at NSCI, Worli for the FanFest. A fun meet-and-greet for their fans, this will be the second edition of the YouTube Fanfest India. The first one was immensely popular and attended by the likes of Shah Rukh Khan. The event has become bigger this year with half a dozen of the choicest ‘Tube celebs waiting to meet their fans, and vice versa. Superwoman, Bethany Mota, The Viral Fever, Abish Matthew, Jus Reign, Kanan and Biswa are among the internet royalty that will be present at the event. Verve caught up with beauty vlogger Bethany Mota and humour vlogger Arunabh Kumar of TVF for a quick chat, who we realised were poles apart. Not only in terms of content but also their manner of producing it and their general views on ‘Tubing.

Bethany Mota, Fashion and Beauty Vlog

1. What is the process behind creating a video? 
“I have a concept and a notebook to write everything down in, with regards to all the different videos I want to make for next month and then I go into detail. Mainly, for me, it’s getting an idea. That kind of situation. I don’t ever write a script or read one because it’s more natural like this. If I was reading from a script, it might sound a little robotic. I like to be myself and go with it, which means, I do mess up a lot! I don’t have a script, so I do tend to ramble.”

2. What are some of your favourite topics?
“I love doing DIYs. There are so many expensive things nowadays that I’d love to have, but I think…do I really have that much money to spend on these? So DIYs are great. I really love fashion videos.”

3. Three beauty must-haves…
“BB cream… I love it! Especially in summer because it protects your skin. Eyebrow powder or eyebrow pencil; that’s my go to. If I could use only one makeup product for the rest of my life, it would be an eyebrow product. And mascara. I feel that even if you don’t wear eye shadow or eyeliner, mascara makes your eyes pop so much.”

4. Have any fans actually become friends?
“Yeah, a few actually. The first meet-and-great I have ever done was at a mall. A few people showed up. I was 14. Some girls came and it was a smaller meet-up. One of the girls and I just clicked and we just had such a good time. I have her phone number and we’re still in touch with each other. I think of my viewers as friends. I love going on Twitter and talking to them and really getting to know them. That’s why I love meet-and-greets too. I get to see them in person and it makes that relationship so much stronger.”

5. For our readers…
“A very valuable lesson I have learnt in the past year is to be self-confident. I think for everyone, it’s important to not care about other people’s opinions. While growing up, I would compare myself to other people and worry about what they think of me. I would adjust myself for them, and I feel that’s so wrong and so disrespectful to you, and I know so many other younger girls who do that. I think it’s all about truly loving yourself and not relying on someone else to make you feel good. If you place your confidence in someone else’s hands, you’re always going to be disappointed because there’s not always going to be someone to tell you that you look great today. You should know that you look great.”

Arunabh Kumar of The Viral Fever (TVF), Humour Vlog

1. What is the process behind creating a video? 
“The process is quite elaborate. We have a creative team, a studio team and a media team. First of all, we jam and come up with ideas. There are 18 writers currently, so it’s a huge creative team. We make a monthly programme. After the ideas are thrown, some of them are picked. And the writer who produced them or the writer who comes across as the most pregnant with the idea, works on it. After the script is done, we send it to the production team, which is a studio team. The 25 people there take care of the production piece along with the writer and director. We have a team of eight directors, and they are assigned various projects. After the execution, it is handed over to the biggest team – our media, social media and dissemination team. How to release the video, what to say about it on social media, post release response is what they deal with. It’s a small TV channel kind of a setup.”

2. What’s your role in this setup?
“My job is to be the best, brutally honest filter that there is. Initially, the first year and a half I was directing and also co-writing some of the scripts. I also wrote most of them. In the last one year, I had to look into different kind of aspects like final cut. It’s humanly not possible to direct six scripts together but we want to release six of them together. So then you need more directors and my job is to filter the right ideas; to help make ideas better.”

3. What topics garner maximum laughter?
“Mostly, the relatable ones; the identifiable ones. Some times, things are in the news, which are picked up and then they become talked about, like Rowdies – the first show we ever did. I realised there are a lot of people who hate Roadies, and that’s a big following and nobody really hears them. So relatability is a huge factor.”

4. What are some of your favourite topics?
“Government is one topic which I like. Then, human stupidity. The reason I came up with the name Qtiyapa… it means the cuteness of human insanity. I believe that all the stupidity that we do is very cute if you watch it from a distance. I have always maintained that India is a very funny country, without a sense of humour. So if you put a viewfinder in India and watch it like from a different planet, you will find a lot of humour. That excites me.”

5. In light of all the recent bans, what would you like to ban?
“I would like to ban banning!”

6. What makes you laugh?
“I laugh at the weirdest things. I get a lot of laughter out of physical or slapstick humour. People falling is very funny. People getting angry is very funny. If you watch an angry guy on mute, it’s hilarious!”

7. What topics would you never broach?
“I wouldn’t like touching bathroom humour. Also, women’s safety and crime against women. No matter what you do, there is a lot of backlash and forelash. People read that in a very different way.”

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