Published: 20th December 2017
The viral factor: Meet Telugu YouTube hotshots who educate, inspire and make us laugh
Government of Andhra Pradesh took the first step towards recognising and awarding players on social media at its first Social Media Summit and Awards (SMSA) conducted in Vijayawada
Be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube, most of us are on social media 24x7, and we are invariably influenced by it, whether we 'like' it or not. These players tickle our funny bone, educate and inspire us through their posts, pictures and videos, all of which impact us.
On November 19 this year, the Government of Andhra Pradesh took the first step towards recognising and awarding players on social media at its first Social Media Summit and Awards (SMSA) conducted in Vijayawada.
SMSA urges a wide range of social media content creators and viewers to engage with each other and educate themselves further in the ways of the internet
In about 30 categories including Entertainment, DIY Arts and Crafts, News and Politics and more, awards were given away to both national and local Telugu players across mediums. While big names like Deepika Padukone and Rana Daggubati were awarded Most Popular Indian Actress on Social Media and Most Active South Indian Actor on Social Media respectively, local names like VIVA and Telugu TechTuts received their due too.
We decided to crack the code behind going viral and talk to three of the winners who have been struck by this ‘viral’ fever in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Dreamgirl: The award presentation ceremony at the SMSA with Deepika Padukone
They say that necessity is the mother of invention and that is exactly what Syed Hafiz, the founder of Telugu TechTuts, the viral YouTube channel known for all things tech, found. Hafiz was teaching about 20 courses like Excel, Tally, C programming language and more at the Time Computer Education in Karimnagar, but in 2014, when he tried to search for videos which do the same, he came up with nothing. So, he thought to himself, "No one can teach the way I teach," and put out a video.
But this hardly received any views. But his second video skyrocketed and now, though many channels have taken a leaf out of his book, he remains confident. "The way I deliver and explain concepts cannot be copied," and it is this confidence that catapulted him to fame. Not only did he receive a Silver Play Button from YouTube, but he also won the SMS Award in the ‘Technology’ category.
My target was to reach out to the Telugu speaking audience who are on the lookout for tech know-how. Now, I have plans to start Hindi TechTuts
Syed Hafiz, Founder of Telugu TechTuts
And to balance the seven hours he loses while uploading two to three videos per day, which eats into his time at the institute, he has set up a small area in the institute itself to shoot, "although the internet speed is not the strongest in this area," he states. He also confesses that he still has a lot to learn about camera angles and lighting, while he remains positive about the internet and its impact. After all, he is a product of it! "I never knew that I could earn from YouTube," he says, still sounding dazed from his newfound recognition.
But the World Wide Web has done wonders, even personally, for the 28-year-old, who had studied till class X in a Telugu-medium school. "I was once camera-shy too," he says. But his fear dispelled eventually and made him who he is today.
Winning smile: Syed Hafiz receiving the SMS award
USP: Hafiz truly believes that no one breaks down concepts like he does. Thus, he says, it is vital to retain your own style and delivery
Tip: Not only does he insist that money should not be one’s prerogative, but he also stresses on the importance of consistency. "If you have uploaded a video at 5 pm today, make sure you upload a video at the same time tomorrow to build user engagement," he suggests. And, of course, be genuine
At the onset of the talk itself, Harsha 'VIVA' Chemudu spoke about the elephant in the room. Taking us through his childhood, he tells us how he has always been a dark, stout kid who was affected by typhoid during infancy. The medicines made him fat, adding to his inferiority complex. He was subjected to humiliation and rude comments which affected him till his college days, until one day, he decided not to allow it. Fast forward to today, when he waits for a nasty comment on social media so that he can chew them up and spit them out. But he understands that, "they help bring out my creativity," he says humbly, which is another story of how YouTube can change people and their already complex lives.
My parents are super cool with what I do now but, initially, they were disappointed. I asked them for a year off and acted in 17 films
VIVA Harsha Chemudu, Comedy Actor
The story behind their first video contains all the elements of a movie — from quitting stable jobs without telling their parents, sneaking into Andhra University to record their first video, to the internet giving up on them several times while trying to upload said video — which hit 2,80,000 views within 24 hours and made Harsha "jump, laugh and cry, all at the same time." Now, he has 52 Telugu, four Tamil and two Kannada films to his credit, including an SMS Award in the 'Comedy' category.
Harsha considers the digital space as a virtual hoarding, a publicity entity used to "propagate a brand or share content," he explains. Thus, he opines that their next step would be to partner with players in the same medium to create, package and present their content better and to create an ecosystem which is useful to youngsters. And by thanking the team's friends and family, especially the indispensable Sabarish Kandregula (the director of VIVA), Harsha reminds us that in this era of virality, the most important quality to have is perhaps gratitude and humility.
Proud moment: Harsha won the SMS award in the comedy category
USP: For Harsha, "content is still king." They flesh write their the characters so well that there is something relatable for everyone — like a boy who cheats relentlessly or the girl who cries for marks
Tips: For Harsha, it all boils down to doing what you love. "Not only will you fail to find a reason to turn away from it, you will forever strive for better results," he says and cautions against copying because, as he puts it, inspiration is super cool but imitation, not so cool
Myna Street Food
Do you recall the old lady who went viral on YouTube for her cooking and the vitality she infused in the art, while she herself appeared frail and fragile? Then you know why Myna Street Food won the SMS Award in the category of 'Cooking'. Meet Savitri, aka Pavitra amma, as she is known by in her village near Machilipatnam. She was already popular in her area much before she went viral on YouTube, thanks to the aroma that wafted out of her dishes.
She feels very lucky that at this age, she has found fans on the internet, says 26-year-old Hema Bindu, who spoke to us on her behalf. The channel is run by Dev Chandra Raju, who shoots and edits, while Bindu offers other assistance.
The star herself: Pavitra Amma who cooks in a completely traditional style
Started with the intention of documenting street food culture (hence the name, states Bindu), the duo quickly realised that these kinds of channels were a dime a dozen even a year and a half ago. So, they took a different route and sought the traditional preparation of food instead. Staying true to their aim, even in the videos, Pavitra amma doesn't use modern kitchen appliances like blenders. She hand-grinds everything. "And when she debuted, it was a hit," Bindu exclaims. She even turned out to be a pro in front of the camera, without any inhibitions whatsoever and remains feisty and full of fervour even at the age of 78, says Bindu, adding, "She still goes to the farm to work and when we try to tell her otherwise, she just doesn't listen.”
The food that is cooked in Myna Street Food's videos is given away to the poor, but henceforth, the team will start giving away food to orphans instead
But that doesn't mean that they take her zest for granted. They cut the vegetables, keep the ingredients ready and even stir the dish when the camera is off, so that their star takes it easy. Their future plans for the channel are to improve the clarity of instructions and even have Pavitra amma call out these instructions in English instead of Telugu, for which she has been practising diligently.
USP: Bindu feels that what makes them different is the small, but significant traditional techniques that Pavitra amma employs when she cooks, like measuring with her hands, grinding without appliances and using traditional ingredients itself, which are healthier than what is being followed today
Tips: Bindu insists that one must think differently and out-of-the-box to stand out among the million channels on YouTube. And as all the food cooked is given to the needy, if the initiative is for the greater good, then that’s even better