After first taking the internet by storm with his sketches and then creating the hit comedy-drama web series Dhindora for his YouTube channel BB Ki Vines, content creator and actor Bhuvan Bam has now turned to the bigger small screen. This week, he makes his streaming debut with Taaza Khabar, in which he plays the role of Vasant, a sanitation worker who chances upon magical powers. The show has Bam working once again with director Himank Gaur and writers Hussain and Abbas Dalal. Bam described the show as “musically rich” — the soundtrack has 11 songs, including numbers by Parikrama, Naezy, Mohan Kannan and Bam himself. All episodes of Taaza Khabar are available to stream on Disney+ Hotstar.
Here are edited excerpts of our conversation with Bam:
What about your character in Taaza Khabar appealed to you?
One day, I was sitting and we had just finished writing one scene from Dhindora and we were having dinner. Then Hussain bhai looked at me and said, “Bhuvan, pata hai jaadu aur chamatkar main farq kya hota hai? (Do you know the difference between magic and miracles?)” I am like, “Abhi koi joke aayega (There’ll be a joke now). He said, “Jaadu dhoke se hota hai aur chamatkar yaqeen se hota hai. (One is born of deception, and the other, of belief.)” I asked him, “Isko Dhindora me dalte hai? (Let’s put this line in Dhindora?)” He is like, “Nahi, this is a separate story.” We finished Dhindora that night. And we then sat on Taaza Khabar and he narrated it to me, the gist of it. I loved it. A few weeks later, I called him up and said, “Bhai the plan is still on, right?” So we started developing it seriously. But apart from that, coming from comedy space to this space where I have to play a dramatic role, was a leap of faith for me and I really wanted to explore this. After the 10th character in BB Ki Vines, I knew I wanted to get into acting. Vasant Gawde, which is the name of the character [in Taaza Khabar], I am treating as my 22nd character.
As an actor, you have gone from pulling off multiple roles at once to now focusing on one character at a time. What's tougher?
This is tougher because firstly I've been doing that since seven years. I know the ins and outs. When I'm doing that, the edit is constantly going on in my head while I'm performing… But here a lot depends on how the other actors are performing as well. You never know what the other person is going to give. It's always a mystery, and you have to only focus on your thing because you are not playing their character. … I never thought that I will be sharing the screen with Deven Bhojani Sir. Dekh Bhai Dekh, Sara Bhai vs Sara Bhai, Office-Office…such a vast field of work he has. It's easier to be an editor here, but very difficult to be an actor because you are working with legends and you have to make sure that you don't fumble. Udhar toh I can fumble because I know that samne bhi main hi hu, pichhe bhi main hu, par yaha you can't take that risk (While shooting YouTube videos, I have the liberty to fumble because it’s just me. Here, I can't take that risk.)
How has your writing changed over the years?
I can't watch my previous videos now. I don't relate to them. Though I love that and I still find them funny, I wouldn't crack those jokes again. It's a life process that you can't relate to yourself 10 years ago or even five years ago now. It's such a fast-paced life. During Taaza Khabar ka journey, two years, I've grown like six-seven years older because there have been so many complications during the making of this. … Since it's one of the first productions of BB Ki Vines, I had to creatively get involved in everything because baby project hai. I had to be there for music sessions. I have travelled to so many cities to convince my favourite people to do music for me, for this show. I really wanted this show to be musically rich, and this album has 11 songs. It's a project that I'm very possessive about.
What was the biggest hurdle for Taaza Khabar?
Convincing people to do their job! We are young and the people we are dealing with, they're pretty old and experienced. It's that seniority complex that we are always scared of. How do we tell this person that this is not supposed to be this way? That's why the main creative control, we have decided to keep it with us.
From being a YouTuber to helming a series of your own, what's the most glaring difference in terms of production?
Everything. Firstly, it's tough to get permission to shoot. It's a nightmare. And because we are young, we've pulled in so many favours ki, “Sir, hum to bachhe hai. Yeh sapna hai humara, hume karne dijiye? (We’re kids. It’s our dream to shoot this, please let us?)” That's how we've got most of our locations. It was so tiring because we shot for 55 days. And out of those 55 days, (for) 49 days, there were 49 locations. … I thought, “Production house bana lenge, phir acting kar lenge, phir edit kar lenge, aur show release kar denge. (We’ll establish a production house, act, edit and release the project.)”
But it's nothing like this.
Has the pressure to be politically correct ever impacted your writing?
No, I don't think there's a pressure because I've consciously stayed away. I don't believe in half knowledge and I'm not at all aware of my surroundings right now. I don't follow politics. I don't follow anything from the industry. I'm so occupied in this project that I've let go of almost everything. My Instagram earlier was filled with news and articles, but now they're filled with puppy and cat videos. … When I'm in my bed at night, when I'm tucked in my kambal (blanket), I really want to watch dog and panda videos. I stay away from using political jokes, religious jokes, kyunki comedy main (because in comedy) you think that you can touch that topic, but I don't feel like getting involved.
Which of your characters are you most attached to?
I'm attached to Titu Mama because he's actually my mama (uncle). My mama is him. And Bablu ji because he's a very polite guy who has no vices. He's like a typical papa who only cares about his job, his kids and wife. That's it.
Is he a lot like how your father was?
No, not at all. My father used to say, “Tu mujhe videos main dumb kyu dikhata hai? (Why do you portray me as dumb in your videos?)” I told him, “Arey, yeh aap nahi ho (That’s not you!)” So I had to convince him ki aap dumb nahi ho (that he isn’t dumb.)