Kumar Varun
Kumar Varun
Photo: Kumar Varun/Instagram

You have been around on various Live Streams as a guest, what made you and Rahul come up with your own Random live?

Ans: Rahul and I started this channel five years back when we were working as brand managers. And, one of the ideas behind Random Chikibum was to keep doing a range of things — right now our channel had everything, from stand-up videos to KVizzing, and more. The other part is we both are essentially very lazy people, and we didn’t want to get into something that would require a lot of effort (like gaming, tech, etc). Hence, we chose a format that would allow us to just sit and talk (about random subjects) because that’s what we enjoy doing. Our initial days were about testing waters and exploring how YouTube streaming, superchats, etc. work. Once we mastered that, we began inviting guests, and started doing it on a regular basis.

You have the knowledge and skills to talk about any subject and topic on the planet. What made you choose Buckets, Crocodile and Air as subjects?

As brand managers we are very image-conscious people. And, one impression Rahul and I tried to cultivate for our channel was randomness. When we started picking topics, they very standard — office life, engineering, MBA, etc. Then we raised the bar (this was Rahul’s idea) and started picking ‘random’ topics, which would compel people to think: ‘What would they talk about for an hour on that?’ Lot of our guests actually did that. I remember we this episode with Nishant Soni, which was about swimming, and the first thing he said was ‘I have come to see how this will turn out to be’. The ‘Bucket’ episode was one of best ones, then we did one on ‘break’, and the next one on ‘brake’. And since most of our guests were comedians, we knew we could improvise with them. If you see, some of these topics actually have many interpretations. For example, when you think of bucket you think of taking a bath, or bucket list... it’s endless.

Can you explain the concept of Chapter Heads for Random Live streams? Are you in touch with your Chapter Heads?

The concept of Chapter Head is again a marketing concept. If you see, many brands have membership programmes, which are about rewarding loyal customers. So Rahul and I wanted to reward people coming to our every Random Live. The way companies appoint city heads, branch managers, unit managers, etc., similarly we started selecting city heads, which soon became a regular feature, and our audience started enjoying that recognition. The exercise also showed us the reach and geographical range of our audience — we have people from Los Angeles, Minnesota, New York, Sydney, Bangalore, Raipur, etc. The audience also started to feel like they were a part of a global community. We aren’t in touch personally, but we do get messages from them sometimes.

You have been an avid quizzer and watching you on KVizzing with Comedians has been super fun. Have you thought of launching your own quizzing show on television?

I plan to, and I would be lying if I say otherwise. But right now we are at the proverbial baby step. In my mind, its a small show on YouTube, but we have managed to get a very loyal following. When it comes to OTT or TV, the scale and the stakes everything changes. And, I am not taking proactive steps in that direction for now. But I would love if an OTT platform or a TV channel reaches out to us to create something for a larger audience. In last couple of months, many brands have reached out to us, and we have done shows with them. I am eager to do a proper quiz show like Bournvita Quiz Contest or a Mastermind India—these shows have legacies of their own. I am very passionate about quizzing, and I want the world to know that quizzes are fun and one doesn’t need to get overwhelmed by them!

With 2 past 2 Curious we have seen you and Biswa Kalyan come up with amazing evolution facts. How much time goes into the research to come up with this?

We started 2 Past 2 Curious because we are knowledge seekers. We have an ambitious target of creating around 300 episodes covering the entire human history. A lot of effort and research goes in making each episode and that is why there are few episodes of 2 Past 2 Curious. To be honest, Biswa and I are capable of doing a Random Live, where we pick topics like Indus Valley Civilisation, Iron Age, etc, and turn it into a 30-min episode. But that won’t be fair, and we don’t want to do them just for the sake of it. And, like good students we have treated it very academically. So when we select a topic, we conduct a thorough research, with help from some friends. One of the motives of 2 Past 2 Curious was to make people take interest in history. Also, when it comes to history there are theories for everything. So we are more than happy if our viewers disagree with us and bring in their own theories. Because that creates an environment of learning and curiosity, which is our aim.

Will you make a comeback? If yes, when are we likely to see the resurgence of Random Live?

Random Live was an experiment, which we did for a long time (around 40-50 episodes, I think!). And, then unlock happened. With that Rahul and I started easing back into our pre-lockdown routine. During the lockdown scheduling of Lives was not an issue, but once we started travelling, organising that became an issue. That was one reason why we stopped it. Another was, we have quit lucrative corporate jobs, and we didn’t want to get into the zone which reminded us of schedules, preparations, etc. Over the course, Random Live required for us to do all that, and we vehemently wanted to avoid being reminded of our old lives. Hence, we decided to retire and stop.

Coming to Live Streaming and its financial viability in the new normal, would artistes be able to sustain themselves?

Yes. Because I feel if you are in the business, and not putting up random live streams once in a while, you will be able cash on it. Many put in a lot of efforts organising schedules for the Lives, and these artistes acquire a loyal fan base as time passes by. Also, what happened during the lockdown was audience started equating Live Streams to as watching TV—they login on YouTube, scroll through different channels, consume whatever they find interesting, which is a good thing for streamers. There is money with superchat, YouTube revenue, unlike an Instagram live. But, whether that can be your only source of income, is questionable. Most Live Streamers, at least in the comedy zone, have a lot of different revenue-making sources. Also, what happened with Lives during the lockdown is, those working from home would listen to streams on the side. But, once we go back to our normal work lives that might also get affected.

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