Clocking 26 million views as of Wednesday, Indian comedian, writer, singer and songwriter, Bhuvan Bam‘s first-ever web series is receiving an abundance of love from its viewers on YouTube. It also marks the beginning of his own production house – BB Ki Vines Productions, named after his popular channel (with 21.8 million subscribers and counting), BB Ki Vines. Amidst the adulation, Bhuvan talks about the project, playing ten characters, and how Dhindora is actually the beginning of what he calls ‘the BB universe.’
Anupama Chopra: Congratulations on Dhindora – 20 million views in the first three days, no. 1 streaming show in India last week. What is going through your head right now?
Bhuvan Bam: I feel overwhelmed by the response. Secondly, there are seven more episodes to come, so it’s stressful now. Now the story has begun, so it’s only going to get crazier from here. I really want people to watch it.
AC: You’re saying you feel overwhelmed. Tell me how you didn’t feel overwhelmed while playing ten roles in your project? Plus, you hold the credits for story, concept, lyrics and you’ve co-written the screenplay.
BB: Not overwhelmed, but stressed. This is my universe and I know the behaviour of each character and how the story should progress. I was very lucky to find writers like Hussain and Abbas Dalal – they’ve been the pillars for me throughout this show. The day we met, we started gelling together with the concept. It’s a result of great teamwork. For everyone working with me, this project has been one of a kind, since I am the one playing all the central characters.
We weren’t scared. All we thought about was that the humor should land right. It was like a leap of faith for us – to move out of our boxes and show people that these are the characters that you can now see take full shape. It was challenging but we were also confident about it.
AC: These characters are all finally your babies. Then how did you decide who to make more prominent, and who to sideline for now?
BB: It’s not that a character is sidelined in this. It’s just that the show is story-driven and the characters are just a part of it. They have been given their parts to play in that story. There’s only one central character – the father. The problem revolves around him. The rest appear the way they are supposed to in an episode. In the future, there are so many things that we are going to do with these characters, so each one of them will get their time to shine.
AC: So much of your job as a creator is to make people laugh. And you’ve undergone a massive personal loss this year. How do you find the strength to get past that and create something so ambitious?
BB: They [my parents] wouldn’t have wanted me to stop. It’s not just me who is attached to this project, there are so many people who are looking forward to its release. Why make them suffer? [My loss] wouldn’t fade away for the next 100 years, but I have to find something to restart myself. The more I stay idle, the more it runs on my mind. How do you find things you can invest your mind into and just let go of everything else? It’s a learning experience that I’m going through right now and I shall find light someday.
AC: You’d told me in an interview once that you feel scared because things are happening so quickly. You had become famous, got that 1 million mark very quickly and the next 10 million very quickly. You’d said that you were very scared to lose it. Is that still a fear?
BB: It is, but I think with Dhindora, it has taken a backseat. Whether it works or not is up to the people. But personally, this has given me so much confidence. It has made me believe that I cannot be confined to four walls. I can move out of that house and create something that is equivalent to a Netflix or Amazon series on YouTube. This gives me hope to explore how much I, and my fellow creators, can do better on YouTube. We keep thinking that we are all dependent on that one powerful force – till the time they ask us to make something for them, we won’t be able to make anything. But thanks to the people associated with this project, this became possible. Now, the focus is to make it reach as many people as possible and figure out what’s next. This is my pizza base, my BB universe. Now on top of this, I aim to create more shows, movies and spin-offs with these characters. That’s been the aim throughout.
AC: When you say movies, are you looking at Bollywood too? With Dhindora, you’re the puppet master, you’re controlling everything. In Bollywood, it’s not like that. So, is it still an aim?
BB: It is, but with Dhindora, we have also introduced BB Ki Vines Productions. Our main aim is to find new talent and fresh scripts so that we can create our own movies, even if it doesn’t include these characters. The production company won’t just be about the characters. It’s about new concepts, stories, new ways of shooting movies and series. We have so much on our plate right now that we gradually want to gift it to the people.
AC: Is there a mark that you’ve set for yourself – for example, if you get these many views, you’ll be happy? Otherwise, how would you know? That’s the only barometer.
BB: Yes, there is this thing where once you know it’s crossed a certain number of views, you know that people are liking it. But more than the views, the comments section should be nice and happy. I was so scared when the first episode of Dhindora released. The main fear was that I didn’t know whether people would accept this. Would they accept the full-length characters? Would they accept the way it was being shot? But ever since the trailer came out, people started showering me with messages saying that they didn’t know I could pull it off like this. The responses have been great for the first episode too. People are messaging me saying that they’re so glad to see this, that too for free. They can really see the production value that has gone into creating this and acknowledge that it’s still being given to them for free. That was a conscious decision from our end and it feels nice to be in this space.