9 months post the TikTok ban, I have 15 million followers on Instagram: Faisal Sheikh aka Mr Faisu

For someone like Mr Faisu, things worked the other way round. He first became a social media sensation with 17 million followers and then signed a film as a lead! In an exclusive interaction with the Cinema Journal, he talks how the social media proved to be more of a boon than a bane for him and shares is experience of making his acting debut in the Alt Balaji and Zee5 show Bang Bang-The Sound of Crimes.

Why do you call yourself Mr Faisu?

People who love me call me Faisu. My parents, my friends, my well-wishers call me by that name. My real name is Faisal Sheikh but no one knows me by that name. On social media accounts like TikTok and Instagram everyone knows me by the name of Mr Faisu. It is easy to remember, that’s all!

Tell us about your journey as a TikTok star…

You know I used to post a lot of Dubsmash videos online, each video of one minute duration. I got a lot of crowd engagement on Facebook initially. I then moved on to Instagram and started using the Musically app from Google. Here too I got immense crowd engagement and many videos of mine even went viral.

My followers started increasing every day. With TikTok I began to post 15-16 videos on a daily basis and that really exploded my fan base online! I continued with this for 3 years at a stretch! With such videos you got to have variety, because the people watching go through frequent mood swings. I started incorporating more and more variety that included romance, comedy and intense emotions! My aim was to build an algorithm where every third video on TikTok should be mine, and I did manage to do that.

So, what happened after TikTok was banned?

When TikTok got banned for the first time, at that point I had 7.4 million followers! But luckily for me all my followers moved to Instagram and my base remained intact. Today, more than 9 months after TikTok was banned I have 15 million followers on Instagram! That became the general phenomenon, the whole TikTok audience then shifted base to Instagram.

How did Ekta Kapoor come into the picture?

It happened during the lockdown and TikTok hadn’t been banned around that time! I got to know that Alt Balaji was looking to have auditions for Bang Bang. I went for the auditions and somehow managed to crack it. I really feel grateful that Ekta Ma’am gave me this opportunity. It is a huge thing for me and my family! I have been attending workshops for the last six months.

Bang Bang marks your debut. How was the experience?

I had a lot of fun while I was also learning at the same time. The action sequences were mind-blowing! Though there were times when I had a black out because of continuity issues during the shoot. It was real hard work to pick myself up and get back in front of the camera with my 100 per cent.

Your hairstyle is quite a rage on the internet…

Yes, it is a little unusual. But I realised it looked good on me and I thought I would go with it. Also, when the hair flies the shots come out really well! The character of Raghu in Bang Bang is flamboyant, and this cut went with the look of the character! My team totally loved it!

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