The Viral Fever is arguably the first Indian channel on Youtube to create original comic videos. The fact that the tagline 'Sab Qtiyapa Hai' is more popular among the youth than The Viral Fever defines the group – they are far more focused on getting the laughs than fame.
The man behind this initiative is Arunabh Kumar, the founder and CEO of The Viral Fever. Talking about his initial years in the industry, Arunabh said, “I developed a show for MTV in my fifth year called Genius Diary. MTV liked the idea and it was aired for six-eight months. But I soon realised that things I wanted to do were different from what the channel was allowing me."
Arunabh pokes fun at everything that affects the common man’s life in India. He further added that he wanted to create satirical programming, for which Indian TV was not ready. After MTV rejected his show, he was asked to create a filler show which ran for a few episodes.
Arunabh said, "When MTV rejected the idea, I think that was the best rejection of my life. Youth channels told me Indian youth doesn’t want to watch this. I wanted to prove them wrong. Had they accepted, the idea would have ended up in some maximum 10 to 15 episodes."
Arunabh, together with a few friends, then started the Youtube channel, The Viral Fever. He said, "Greater internet penetration helped me a lot. We started with Inglorious Seniors (a spoof on Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds) which began as a fun venture. The first shoot happened with the help of friends. It received some 17,000 views making it the second most popular video in Indian entertainment category (barring movie trailers)."
The group then did Rowdies, a spoof on reality show Roadies, which became the third most watched video at a million views that month. Kumar said, "After Rowdies, I knew we are on the right track. All big TV channels have been chasing the guy who plays Raghu for the last six months. I then took one year to figure out what exactly I wanted to do. I met students, prepared the ideas, production plans and everything."
Talking about the progress of TVF, Arunabh said, "We did an event called Q-tiyapa night at BITS Pilani. The organisers told us that the tickets were sold faster than those for Vir Das’s event at the same venue. We have been doing a lot of live events and that made us realise that we are quite popular. So far we are doing good. Officially, we will soon be the biggest new media network of the country."
When asked what he finds the funniest in India, Arunabh said, "India is a very funny country without a sense of humour. Hypocrisy is one thing I find very funny and ironic."
The TVF group that comprises of 23 permanent members aims to spread its wings across platforms including magazines, films and a TV channel under the TVF banner.
So, was it his ego that was hurt when MTV rejected his idea? Arunabh explained, "Somewhere, yes, it was personal. When I began, I wanted to prove that I was not as stupid as they made me feel but now TVF is far bigger than me or any one person on the team."
Arunabh categorically said that TVF will never do advertisements. "We incorporate brands. Atayachaarge (a spoof on UTV Bindaas’s Emotional Atyachaar) was for Freecharge," he added.
Q-tiyapa: what’s in the name
Q-tiyapa is not something I would have called it, but it’s popular and sort of defines the work.
TVF wants to be the Disney or HBO of the country. We may also attempt spoofs of Lost and Game of Thrones.
Topic that won’t ever be spoofed by TVF
I do not think we are mature enough to do a spoof on a sensitive issue like crime against women. If we ever do anything on that, it will serious.
What lies ahead
My aim is to make India’s Big Bang Theory, Game of Thrones, Lost and something which ABC’s and Fox’s of the world wish to remake. We are confident that soon, at least on web, we will come up with material that an American production house would want to copy.
The Viral Fever represented India in the Global Youtube Fanfest 2013 this May.
With 2 channels (TVF Recycle Bin and TVF), the network has a total of 45 videos 20,548,204 views and 307,815 subscribers (as on Dec 24).
TVF alone has 295,197 subscribers with 20,525,504 views on the videos.