Desi stars steal YouTube show

This is the year of regional content on YouTube and some content creators from eastern India are making it count.

By Karo Christine Kumar
  • Published 21.09.16

This is the year of regional content on YouTube and some content creators from eastern India are making it count.

"The first wave in year 2013-2014 was all about content creation from Mumbai and Delhi, like AIB and The Viral Fever (TVF), mostly in English, a little bit of Hindi. Things started to change in 2014-2015, which was the beginning of southern language content, literally a mirror of what you were seeing in English and Hindi. This wave we are sitting on right now is creators in Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi, even Assamese, in no particular order. It's taken us by surprise," said Satya Raghavan, head entertainment content, YouTube India, in town on Tuesday.

The categories that do well are movies (not just full-length ones but also behind-the-scenes by big studios), TV (serials people have missed), news (news channels are one of the fastest-growing categories), comedy, food (content remains evergreen because of recipes), beauty (associated with empowerment), technology (more men's lifestyle, gadget reviews, a little bit of gaming), music (fuelled by an entire set of creators) and children.

The company could not share the exact number of channels from Calcutta but said that it "runs into thousands".

"Bengali content has started to find its ground. We are seeing a lot of Bengali creators, not just in Bengal but with national appeal and those also being able to reach out to neighbouring countries like Bangladesh," said Raghavan.

Some of that content making a mark is Ananya-r Rannaghor, which is driven by recipes and playback singer Antara Nandy from Assam popular for her "cup song". A lot of story-telling content also manifests itself on YouTube, such as Sawan Dutta of song vlog The Metronome, a Bengali based in Mumbai. As well as content by stand-up comedian Anirban Dasgupta, a Calcutta boy who moved to Mumbai this year.

"What YouTube has done for me is introduce me to more work. A brand may notice and contact me for a campaign or a show. Some of my videos have reached 1,70,000 hits and a lot of people started coming from YouTube to my stand-up shows. It may otherwise probably take me years to reach so many people," Anirban told Metro from Mumbai.

"My YouTube channel's been around for years, but I've started using it optimally only since April, when I created The Metronome. As a professional musician who's explored most other available media, I must say YouTube has been the most liberating, eye-opening experience ever. The transparency, the immediacy of the response that I get is incredible. In five months, my subscriber count increased from 78 to 5,683, with my channel slowly inching towards half a million views. My audience is spread over 118 countries," said Sawan.

But there's also a negative side. "A lot of comics tend to get excited when some videos go viral and in the race for fame, put up stuff without considering quality. It's important to keep a balance between quality and frequency," adds Anirban.

In July, the YouTube NextUp contest was announced, which aims to discover the next generation of YouTube stars. One of the finalists from Calcutta is Kolkata Videos HD, which works with talented artists and musicians.