Social media influencer Ashish Chanchalani became the third Indian YouTuber to cross the 20-million-subscriber milestone. He tells Sneha Menon Desai about sacrificing his mental peace, the repercussions of being vocal during the YouTube vs Tik Tok controversy and what fame feels like for the 26-year-old who lives in Ulhasnagar in Maharashtra.
Sneha Menon Desai: Congratulations on 20 million subscribers. What were the last few days like for you? Were you constantly hitting refresh on YouTube?
Ashish Chanchlani: A week ago, that’s what I was doing but because of some problems in the family I’ve had to go off the internet. I never imagined that a day would come where 2 crore people would be subscribed to my channel. When it happened, I was a little anxious, happy, it was an emotional moment. Now it’s finally hitting me.
SMD: What would you say was the biggest sacrifice you’ve made?
AC: My mental peace. It does take a toll on your mental health for sure. It takes a lot of patience and you need to grow as a person. One of the biggest things I’ve sacrificed has to be personal time with people close to me. I’ve had to sacrifice a lot of my relationships over this career. I’ve learnt that being honest with your followers and telling them when you’re going through a rough patch works well, because they understand and they treat you more like a human being rather than a video-producing machine and that’s my biggest win.
SMD: There’s no video on your channel that hasn’t crossed 1 million views. What are those initial few minutes like once you hit the upload button?
AC: The first 10 minutes are like getting exam results. My heart beats very fast. I keep refreshing and in the first 5 minutes, the likes and views go crazy, they shoot-up. There have been times when I’ve uploaded a video and within two minutes, it’s gotten 1 lakh views. That’s a crazy feeling. The next big test is when the video is completed – for example 13 minutes after a 13-minute-long video is uploaded. That’s when the results begin to appear. You wait with bated breath to see if the public has liked the video. I go and check all the new comments exactly after the video is completed. Sometimes it’s wonderful seeing so many good comments, sometimes its meh. ‘Achcha tha, aur behtar ho sakta tha.’ So my day is spent on my mobile, I’m checking all the analytics, reactions and public ko kaisa lag raha hain, public ko kaun sa scene achcha lagaa, public ko kaunsa dialogue achcha lagaa.
SMD: In your latest video, you talked about ‘tabiyat being karab’ mentally for the last 2 months. Does the nature of the job take a toll on your mental health?
AC: Everybody thought that YouTubers being at home would mean abhi toh humaara dhandaa toh chalega, humein toh bas ghar se bas video upload karni hain. But seeing what’s happening in world, it’s so disturbing and scary, that hum sabki phat gayi and humaara dimaag chal hi nahi raha tha.
SMD: On a lighter note, what’s the cheapest thing you’ve used your fame for?
AC: I was in Cannes and I didn’t have any money on me. I’d left my wallet at the hotel. But I managed to get a free baklava at a restaurant. I told the waiter that I was a big Indian celebrity and that I would follow him on social media in return for the baklava. This has to be the lowest I’ve stooped. I regret it and would never do it again. But if Carry Minati or Bhuvan Bam are reading this, guys you can get free baklava at Cannes if you have a verified account and millions of followers.
SMD: You were quite vocal during the entire Tik Tok vs Youtube controversy. Are there repercussions to being vocal?
AC: Definitely. I only disliked that application because people were stealing my content. But the entire conversation got really toxic later. I even decided to come up with a video saying: Enough, let’s move on.