From the streets of Mumbai to the famed world of YouTubers, Chetan Lokhande’s path has been far from a straight and smooth one. Boasting over 444 thousand subscribers, his work has recently featured big names like Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Let us hear straight from the source with this interview with Chetan Lokhande:
1) Describe your path to fame on YouTube. What is the story behind your YouTube channel?
I started my way through the film industry as a junior artiste, working sometimes as a member of a paid audience, earning up about 150 rupees, for each show. I knew I had to make it big someday, but then I had to search for a living too. I also used to go for auditions, but then it was a dead-end too. (Verbatim: There was evident nepotism/corruption in the auditioning process) To support my family, I have also worked as a waiter and also for small roles in soap operas. At the shooting, I was quite observant, keenly understanding the process. I always believed that I would be cast for the role of the villain because my face matches the looks. My start was slow: I began making videos based on my life events. But then my initial videos were taken down because I was reported. I moved to Facebook, where my initial successes bolstered my confidence. Then I shifted to YouTube, from where I could monetize my videos. My account was suspended 3-4 times, but then my friend Neerav took the helms of managing the account, while I made the content, and then it was all smooth sailing from there. I won my first silver play button (1 lakh subscribers) in only 4 months.
2) When did your journey start?
My activity on Facebook has been for 2 years, and on YouTube, it has been one and a half years long. I have stuck to Facebook mostly because of the account suspensions on YouTube, which often irritated me. I thought of Facebook as my main account. I wanted to create my name as an actor, although I don’t really like to brag about it. I dislike it when people masquerade as actors on Tik-Tok because I have known my worth as a junior artiste and my transformation to a prominent artiste.
3) What is your team like?
I have a friend called Vishal, who I had been discussing with about creating videos. When he was asked, Vishal was slightly apprehensive, but I reassured him by putting to use the valuable experience that I gained in my time with the directors and actors on set. I edit the videos, music editing too, by myself, as well as the direction. We try to use music by our own self. Along with Vishal, I have another companion, called Akshay who helps me with the videography and editing. Another friend of mine, called Abhishek Narvekar, has been playing one of the characters. I liked his style and I asked him to maintain that style in the videos.
4) There are many YouTubers in Mumbai. How’s the Youtube culture there?
I have known Prajakta Koli (Mostly Sane) and I am a friend with her. She has helped me quite a bit with video creating too. I have been planning to meet other Ashish Chanchlani and Mumbiker Nikhil, and collaborate with them. There are not many YouTubers from Mumbai, apart from Mostly Sane, BeYounick, Mumbiker Nikhil and Ashish Chanhlani, and collaborating with them will help bring Mumbai’s name to the forefront.
5) What according to you, is your account’s USP? What sets you apart as an actor?
My music is quite popular, from what I hear and also that I try to use to make child-friendly content too, without using abusive language, which has kept my videos popular. Most YouTubers have tried to incorporate abusive language, but I try to keep my videos clean. 20% from my earnings from the videos are donated to orphanages, something which I have felt out of my social responsibility.
6) How do you get your ideas for your videos? For example, a recent video of yours (Maari) was based on a South Indian film, something relatively unknown in your environment. How did you find it?
My videos have tried to keep a changing theme always because if the videos are based on a constant theme, the audience is bored of it. Like soap operas which keep on changing their themes to suit their audiences, I needed to maintain a change in topics, which is why I chose recently released films as a theme, with the recent ones being parodies of Simba and Maari, because of the hype surrounding them.
7) Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s interview was the crowning glory of your YouTube page. How did you feel about it?
Personally, my academic career hasn’t been that great and I am not particularly skillful with verbal skills. I have not appeared for interviews in my life, and there I was being the interviewer to Nawazuddin Siddiqui. It was a really lucky fan moment for me.
8) In your earlier stages, you mentioned that you had been pulled down by several of your acquaintances when your account was suspended. Now that your fame is exponentially rising, what are their reactions?
The reactions to my earlier self were rather negative; even my parents were angry when I had been loafing around. But as my YouTubing career grew, they felt proud of me as their son. One of my acquaintances responsible for the suspension of my account once came to me for some help in his auditions, but I helped him nevertheless without a grudge because I did not want any animosity towards him. I have also had a fan moment in Vashi, where someone wanted to take a photograph with me. I was then reminded of one of my idols with whom I had taken a photograph, and as I lay my arm on his shoulder for the photo, it was refreshingly reminiscent of the same feeling. I feel that my help to the unfortunate and needy has helped me because of their well-wishes.
9) The recent attacks in Pulwama were saddening for everyone. A lot of YouTubers did not respond to the attacks through their channel, but we would like to know your opinion of the same?
The attacks were indeed deeply saddening for the entire nation and everyone must understand that the ones martyred in Pulwama were humans as well, men with families which depend on their help. A lot of YouTubers have not responded to these attacks, thinking that it would affect their fame in Pakistan. But in my case, you will always see an Indian flag next to my name on my Instagram handle, and I feel that if one wants to be patriotic, it should not be just for a show. Nations are not wrong as a whole, the people living there make it bad. Even we as Indians are not completely flawless, but we still say, “Mera Bharat Mahan!” anyway. If YouTubers care about followers more than their loyalty towards their country, then it is absolutely wrong. I think we should have a better awareness of the nation.