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Want to make content that nobody has ever made in India: Ashish Chanchlani

The popular YouTuber speaks about his new video, The Dealer, content creation, and the challenges of creating short- and long-form videos online.

Sonal Pandya

Over the past six years, YouTuber Ashish Chanchlani has made a name for himself on the platform, becoming the Indian with the second highest number of subscribers, more than 22 million. The prolific actor-filmmaker kept busy even during the lockdown, writing a lot of content.

“On the one side, I took long breaks to write stuff; on the other side, I was almost coming back and giving short-form content on my other platforms, other than YouTube,” he said. “My biggest problem and my biggest strength, I believe, is the same thing. I only make content around what is happening.”

Speaking about current events and what is happening in the world, especially in 2020, is extremely relatable for audiences. “I think that worked really well for me and the channel," Chanchlani said. "I was worried that it would get stagnant and stale, but it didn’t. People love watching relatable content.”

His previous video, The Dealer, co-starring Barkha Singh, has already raked in close to 25 million views. Chanchlani said it is a video with a message that he had wanted to make for a long time to address the issue of sexual harassment that Indian women face on a daily basis on the streets.

He made this video for his female friends, "my sisters, teammates and all the women who have been subjected to harassment". Chanchlani was also compelled to make this by teenage memories of witnessing his mother being harassed by a regular-looking guy.

“He started singing these very vulgar songs, staring right at my mother,” he recalled. “I was a kid, I couldn’t do anything. I was so angry and I can’t even imagine what women go through. I can’t imagine how Mom must be feeling or how those other girls must be feeling. I want to shed light on such things and even if it brings 5% change, it puts a mindset in people that it is wrong to do this, that would make me really happy.”

As his star rises, Chanchlani is determined to do more. “From this point onwards, I’ve always believed in keeping my heart in my content,” he said. “I want to make content that nobody has ever made in India. I want to explore themes and topics through comedy that people have never even seen. So my only aim, without any goals or numbers, is to make good content.

“There are times in anyone’s life when you become big, but they don’t dare to do smaller things,” he continued, talking about his goals. “But my team [and I] don’t fear that. We don’t think in that direction. We are never too big for anything. Smaller issues are what create a bigger impact. So I think this is the direction we want to go in, and once this happens I think we’ll make a lot of diverse content.”

But making content is not as simple as it sounds. It requires a lot of planning and hard work. Chanchlani shared some advice on what is important while creating short-form and longer videos.

“If you are making short content, you have to make sure it’s attention grabbing, all 15 seconds are used perfectly," he said. "And people watch it for what it is. It grabs eyeballs, not for unnecessary things but for the actual content, not just by clickbaiting and not just for attracting people for the sake of it.

“The difficulty in long form is you have to maintain your pace,” he continued. “You have to make sure that if your viewer is investing 14 or 15 minutes of their day in your video, you have to make sure they reach the end. Because then [if they don't watch till the end] apki sari mehnat waste ho gayi. If you watch my content, the highest point of the content comes at the end only, all the time. If my viewer is not able to reach that end point, I think he will not like my content. So to make him reach that point is a very difficult task and for that, I need good pacing of the video.”

His videos sometimes feature some famous guests with stars like Akshay Kumar and Shahid Kapoor dropping in to share screen space. Chanchlani said he has learnt a lot from both of them, especially from Akshay Kumar whom he learnt comedy from, watching his films.

“I have a very big love for Akshay Kumar,” he said. “He is like my guru, so working with him has been like working with your idol, so it will always be special. The second person I loved working with was Shahid Kapoor. [He is] a very sporty person, [and] very understanding. He knows what this field is, he knows what content is, and he doesn’t care whether he is a very big star and I would be in the video joking around him and I think that’s one of the biggest strengths Shahid Kapoor has.”

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