Source: HT News Service
Published on: January 31, 2023


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Bhuvan Bam spoke to Hindustan Times about his recent show, Youtube journey and much more.

It’s hard not to get swept up by the Bhuvan Bam story. More than his new Disney+ Hotstar series Taaza Khabar – a breezy, easy-to-digest rags to riches tale – it’s the story behind the show that sticks with you.

Bhuvan Bam’s success story

Bhuvan has had an undeniably inspiring, meteoric rise to fame. Originally an aspiring actor and musician, after a number of unsuccessful auditions he took things into his own hands. In 2015 he started his own YouTube channel called BB Ki Vines (which currently boasts over 25 million subscribers) where he performed skits and played multiple now beloved characters like Titu Mama and Bablu Bhaiya. In 2021, on his channel, Bhuvan released Dhindora – an 8-episode slapstick comedy series using those very same characters. Each episode of the show clocked in between 30 to 60 million views.

His new show on Disney+ Hotstar

After Dhindora’s thunderous success, it was only a matter of time before a streaming platform came calling. The result is Disney+ Hotstar’s Taaza Khabar. In the show, Bhuvan plays Vasya, a manager at a public toilet in Mumbai who struggles to make ends meet and support his family. That is until he wakes up with the ability to get breaking news alerts on his phone of events that haven’t happened yet. Before long, all his dreams come true and he becomes a bigshot money man, who gradually becomes overcome by greed.

Over the phone, Bhuvan spoke to me about the show’s smash hit success, content creators being taken seriously as storytellers and his dreams of being on the big screen.

Edited Excerpts:

The show has been number one on the Ormax Media most-watched list for multiple weeks now. Did you ever imagine Taaza Khabar would get this kind of reception? And does a massive success on YouTube feel different from success on a streaming platform?

It’s a great feeling. I never expected something like this to happen. Frankly, I never even anticipated a million views. This show was like an added responsibility on my shoulders because I’ve never tested these streaming waters. YouTube success is

fine because it’s free for everyone to watch, and YouTube is a very transparent platform. The numbers are right there and whoever likes a video will immediately comment. But with OTT platforms, they have to go through a different route. And for someone to actually subscribe to a platform and pay money is a different level.

When we first announced Taaza Khabar, a lot of people started commenting saying “we don’t want to pay money to watch the show”, so that was my biggest worry. But when the trailer dropped, I couldn’t see a single comment about money. And now through word of mouth, the show has spread to people who didn’t even know who I was. That’s when I knew that, “okay, this show has landed”.

How was your approach to Taaza Khabar different from Dhindora? That was obviously a slapstick comedy where you play almost every character and this is a different genre entirely. But are there different things to keep in mind when making a show for a streaming platform?

It was a totally different approach right from the writing phase. I knew that if I did something outside of YouTube, I had to prove my mettle as an actor. It had to be a different kind of show. Playing more than 20 characters on YouTube is a totally different zone and trust me that’s really tough.

But how do I make people believe that I can be more than Titu Mama or Bablu Bhaiya? Every day, I used to go on set with this fear of “please aaj Titu Mama na dikhe” and I used to check the monitor after every shot to see if Vasya resembled any of the characters I played before. Apart from that, I also had Hotstar by my side from day 1. We used to send them every draft for feedback, and there were legalities and do’s and donts involved, so it was a very different way of working compared to Dhindora.

What I found interesting about Taaza Khabar is that it’s essentially the familiar, old-fashioned rags to riches masala movie, except here told over six episodes.Why was this the story you wanted to tell through your streaming debut?

It was actually originally a movie when we started writing it. But when we pitched it to Hotstar, they wanted to do it as a series. That’s why we’ve written in cliffhangers at the end of each episode. And I wanted to do something that was different from what I’d been doing so far, which was comedy and, as a one-pager, this story felt very interesting.

The writers (Hussain and Abbas Dalal) and I also felt that this is a simple story that would really connect with the masses. We’ve seen the rags to riches story so many times, but this had a lot of heart and there was also the sci-fi element, which we’re hoping to explore more in season 2.

It feels like something has shifted within the streaming space following the insane success of Taaza Khabar and I was trying to understand what its success means. Is it as simple as content creators should be taken seriously as storytellers by the industry?

I think giving social media creators full creative control is the platform’s call. But I do think every artist should be given the chance to showcase their talent. That’s what I used to think that OTT space will be – a kind of bridge for content creators. But now Bollywood has taken over the OTT space. That’s why it was so important for Taaza Khabar to work. I met a bunch of creator friends recently and they told me that they were even more nervous than me about the show because they really needed it to work so that the people at the top of the hierarchy can see what creators are capable of. We just want to show that we have potential and great stories to tell. We just need someone to trust us.

You’ve also talked a lot about your dreams to be in movies. Is it fair to say that the next time we see you could be on the big screen?

I really don’t know. I don’t even want to think about that right now. I feel like I have a lot on my plate with these two sequels (Dhindora Season 2 and Taaza Khabar Season 2) and I just want to deliver. Right now my only aim is to land these two sequels.

For the entire team, celebrating the success of the show isn’t just about having a party or something like that. It’s all of us sitting together, taking in the feedback and discussing how we can top this next season. But yes, Bollywood is the aspiration. But that doesn’t mean I have to do it right now. If not today, then it’ll be tomorrow.

Disclaimer: Except the headline and synopsis, this story has been taken from the HT News Service