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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

Small screen stars

Humaira Ansari, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, November 11, 2012
First Published: 01:24 IST(11/11/2012) | Last Updated: 02:11 IST(11/11/2012)

Happy? Hungry? Blue after a breakup? Or angry at a raid on your favourite nightclub? For most youngsters, such emotions are now expressed via updates on social networking forums such as Facebook, GTalk, BlackBerry Messenger and WhatsApp, with a frownie here and a smiley there helping friends, acquaintances and relative strangers decode the intensity of your mood.

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Now, a section of these young Mumbaiites, for whom sharing their mood swings and expressing themselves is an hourly affair, are upgrading their medium - using short-format videos. The videos are uploaded on content-sharing websites such as YouTube and actively pushed and promoted via social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Some of these youngsters are spending up to six hours a week actively sharing and retweeting the link to their videos, trying to boost their hits.

Among  this  group, a large number of hits is the latest virtual status symbol. "I got bored of uploading still pictures to express myself on Facebook, so I decided to create, share and promote my own videos," says Mahafreed Irani, 27, who has uploaded 34 videos in four years, with her biggest hit getting 27,210 views. "I liked the way I sounded in my videos and a lot of my friends were encouraging me and increasing the number of hits and likes."

Some youngsters say this move is inspired by the recent popularity in India of viral videos such as Gangnam Style, the 'Sh*t People Say' series and India's first viral video, Kolaveri Di.

Why Video?
Experts say this is a trend that originated in the West, where notions of personal communication have been evolving with changes in technology.

"Older people may find the idea of broadcasting videos of themselves frightening, ridiculous and a waste of time," says sociologist Sarla Bijapurkar of KJ Somaiya College of Arts & Commerce. "But youngsters are influenced by the West and now have access to the same technology. Their notions of privacy are also becoming extremely elastic, leading the more impulsive to fully embrace the 'I don't care attitude'. These videos reflect this freedom."

Social media expert Rajiv Dingra, CEO of social media agency WATConsult, says he foresees more young people adopting such modes of expression, and using more platforms to broadcast their impulse-born, self-expressionist short videos.

"India has traditionally been a conservative society. Showcasing oneself on videos was rare," says Dingra. "But better bandwidth is redefining how users create and share content."

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Fluffy omelettes and rollercoaster rides
In 2008, Irani decided to capture on handheld camera the joy and madness of being on a rollercoaster.

Her quirky commentary made this and subsequent videos popular among her friends, but her first big hit came years later, on a lazy Sunday afternoon in May 2012.

Irani was lounging at her Hughes Road home and found herself staring at her boxy landline phone. On a whim, she turned on the video recorder on her cellphone and recorded a 46-second clip that she later titled 'How to receive a phone call'.

"In that moment, it occurred to me that soon these phones would be extinct. My video would then be an artefact," says Irani. "Also, I was hoping it would go viral because of my quirky commentary."

The video received 591 views on YouTube and multiple 'Likes' on Irani's Facebook page, encouraging her to make more videos, including 'How to make weights at home' and 'How to make business cards'. She also now promotes her videos more actively, sharing them as 'video statuses' on Facebook and posting links to fresh updates on her Twitter account.

"I get a kick out of uploading videos on the web. They show who I am. The real me," she says.
Watch her on youtube.com/user/mahafreed

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Sharing Mumbai's magic
In June, Sharma, who holds a master's degree in broadcast journalism, decided to create a multimedia website to showcase how everyone has their own versions of Mumbai.

To capture the essence of the city, her first video, The Mumbai Bucket List, was shot over a weekend between south Mumbai and Bandra. "The idea was to evoke nostalgia," she says.

On the day before she released her video, Sharma spent six hours tweeting countdown teasers, updating her status on Facebook and broadcasting messages on BlackBerry Messenger and WhatsApp. Within two days of its release, Sharma's net had extended so far that a friend heard people in a coffee shop discussing her video. It has since featured on a number of popular blogs and listings websites such as BrownPaperBag.com.

Sharma plans to make more videos and market them across platforms in the same manner.

"I have some ideas for viral campaigns, but there's a lot that needs to go into one, so I want to take my time and get it just right," she says.
Watch her on youtube.com/user/CityNinjas1

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Aiming for the stars
A big fan of YouTube since school, Shah began by uploading clips taken during festivals and events at Jai Hind college. "We also had to submit many video projects during our mass media degree course," says Shah. "Every time I made a fun video, I would upload it on YouTube."

His videos got a more defined direction as he began pursuing his dream career as a stand-up comedian. Shah's USP now is his irreverent take on advertisements, films and celebrities.

"As I got more hits, I became motivated to make more videos," he says.

He now actively promotes his videos too, posting links on Facebook and Twitter and appealing with fans to share them.
Watch him on youtube.com/user/hatterekisala

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