Have you ever given serious thought to the quantity of aloo in your samosa? Or, looked up the dangers of overplaying Solitaire during office hours? Or, maybe treated a brain tumour and a headache with the same amount of reverence? Nikunj Lotia, aka Nick, ventures into such ‘deep thoughts’ and more on Season 1 of The Office Canteen, a collaboration between his YouTube platform BeYouNick and upGrad, the online higher studies firm.
With the plotline revolving around relatable humorous situations that take place in an office canteen, the first season comprised three episodes, each between eight and 16 minutes. Now, the 31-year-old—who has 8.5 million subscribers across his digital platforms—is working on the second season of the web series.
This Global Influencer Awardee’s (he was awarded in Monaco in 2019, where he was the only Indian creator to be nominated) journey began from Dombivli, Mumbai. From doing odd jobs like working at a call centre, bartending while pursuing his hotel management degree to make ends meet, to the ultimate shift to YouTube just when the internet boom struck India in 2015, the journey has been long, but rewarding. Nick recalls coming across some content on the internet and thought YouTube was a ‘cool’ platform.
He took to the digital arena and never looked back. But that does not mean it was a smooth ride. “I tried my hand at it and failed a bit, but I had enough fun doing to keep at it and not give up,” he says. His first video, which went viral, was a spoof on the ‘Mauka Mauka’ ad for the 2015 Cricket World Cup.
It mocked the star players of the West Indies team—Chris Gayle and Jason Holder—by showing who the Boss was in their respective IPL teams. Pumped up, Nick went on to make 40 comedy videos that same year. What makes his content unique? “I steadfastly avoid watching content by other YouTubers, so that I am not influenced by them,” he says.
His quirky short videos with Bollywood actors such as Vidya Balan, Madhuri Dixit Nene and Boman Irani each have resulted in lakhs of views. It is these novel ideas along with interesting collaborations that have helped Nick reach where he is today.
“After 2,000 DMs (Direct Messages) on Instagram, I should call once right?” goes Madhuri, sarcastically replying to Nick at the beginning of their collab video, perfectly capturing the always unbalanced relationship between a random fan and a celebrity. Shot amidst the pandemic, the video promoted her classes—Dance with Madhuri. It certainly was a better promotional strategy compared to some of the inane ads we get to see nowadays. So, what’s his personal celebrity favourite? “Jackie Shroff for the comedy movie Hello Charlie, which released on Amazon Prime earlier this year,” comes the prompt reply.
A tongue-in-cheek take on the trend of desperate movie promotions nowadays, the video hilariously exposes ridiculous marketing stunts where actors are made to do everything to grab enough eyeballs for their movie premiere.
But creating comedy content can be serious business. With a huge community and following, comes responsibility. “Going forward with what you do and not letting negativity get to you,” is Nick’s mantra. His advice to budding YouTubers? “Make sure that whatever you do, you are having fun,” he signs off.