Chanchlani started Ashish Chanchlani Vines seven years back (26.4 million followers) with the intention of taking his “class clown” act to a larger audience. His approach was simple: be himself as he brought forth his experiences as a student, son, brother, friend, boyfriend, gamer and many other avatars. “We take a subject that’s relatable and then exaggerate the hell out of it,” says Chanchlani about his artistic process. It fits with the kind of humour, he feels, that Indians lean towards which is “loud, over the top, emotional and sarcastic”. The approach has paid dividends with parents writing in about how their children are addicted to his videos and women complimenting Chanchlani for being “chubby and cute”.
Son of a single-screen cinema owner in Ulhasnagar, Chanchlani grew up watching films, both good and bad, and dreaming of being an actor. After completing his engineering, he was going to take over his father’s business when his YouTube videos began to get clicks and likes. “I realised I didn’t need to go and audition in Mumbai. I was already accumulating an audience,” says Chanchlani. “The difference is that it comes from a small screen [mobile] and is better, given that it reaches everywhere.”
Bollywood now comes to him with makers of Rohit Shetty’s Sooryavanshi having him host the trailer launch of the action drama. That’s primarily because Chanchlani’s reach is strongest among the youth. The 28-year-old ensures he maintains the connection by having Gen Z members on his team. “I ensure there’s relatability while changing the jokes, the perspective and the trends,” he says. Another variation is cutting down on the offensive language. “I’d stop cussing if the world stops,” says Chanchlani. “But in real life, everybody does. That frustration comes in our content.”
Meanwhile, in Mukhate’s videos (4.8 million subscribers), audiences find humour as well as a catchy tune that they can’t help but share with friends and family. A YouTuber since 2011, it was in September last year that Mukhate, while working from a parking space-turned-studio, played around with a melodramatic scene from a Hindi saas-bahu show to create ‘Rasode Mein Kon Tha’. It instantly broke the internet. Since then, he has made it a quarterly habit with videos such as ‘Biggini Shoot’, ‘Twada Kutta Kutta’ and ‘Pawri Hori Hai’ which have garnered millions of views and have had Taapsee Pannu, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh dancing to his tunes.
Having initially done covers, Mukhate realised it was the fun, lighter content that was getting him more attention and subscribers in a year when people were dealing with the pandemic blues. “The video should be musically good, well produced and edited, and if it makes people happy then even better,” says Mukhate about his tunes. So successful has he been that he has begun to feel the pressure about being a provider of laughs. But the self-taught musician from Aurangabad is conscious about not disappointing his audience. “It’s very easy to take a dialogue, tweak it and make some beats,” he says. “I can do it every week, but it doesn’t work that way. If it isn’t fresh, then people will get irritated.”
Unlike Chanchlani, Mukhate doesn’t see himself as an innately funny person. “You can call me nerdy,” says. “I am really interested in gadgets and the technical part of music—the production style, the beats.” What he also likes doing is going through his Instagram feed. “I don’t seek words,” he says when asked about how he manages to deliver a viral phrase-tune so consistently. “I never find anything good if I am seeking it.” Like most artists, instinct is what gets Mukhate’s creativity going. And it’s getting the youngster work from leading brands and also compliments from music icons including A.R. Rahman. “You are making a lot of people happy, and they are all smiling. I think it is a very good thing to do,” Rahman said to Mukhate recently. Thankfully for audiences, Mukhate has no plans to stop.