As one of India’s prominent YouTubers, Nikunj Lotia, or BeYouNick as he is popularly known in the digital world, has made an indelible mark on our zeitgeist. His comedy sketches are funny, yet, very poignant, and extremely relatable to the youth of this country.
But things have not always been easy for Nick. Although he does not prefer calling the beginning of his journey a struggle, the challenge he faced prior to finding fame on YouTube on the back of India’s internet revolution, certainly wasn’t easy.
Apart from being an Influencer and digital creator that you definitely must follow, Nick is also a bit of a fashion icon, although he considers himself a fashion renegade. We had a little chat with him, speaking about life before and after YouTube, and his sensibilities around style.
From Nikunj Lotia to BeYouNick, how has the journey been for you? Tell us something about your struggle.
Well, let’s not call it a struggle. Yes, it’s been a lot of effort and a lot of commitment but it’s been fun. The only struggle I used to face on a daily basis is the travel from Dombivali to Bandra/Andheri. This has been a joyride and I’m glad I got such wonderful support and all this love!
How many videos did you have to make and put up before you reached 100,000 subscribers? What about 1,000,000 subscribers?
I don’t clearly remember – around 75 videos for 100K and 125 for 1 million.
There is a very clear distinction between BeYouNick, i.e. when you’re on camera, and Nikunj Lotia, i.e. when you’re giving interviews as yourself. We have seen these double personas with a lot of YouTubers. Why is that so?
Is there though? To be honest for me it’s very similar. What I am in real life, is just the way I am on the screen, maybe a little less savage. But most of my comedy comes from what I observe around me and give it a funny spin. So I might not have been that way in the situation but when it’s being written, it’s written to be funny for the viewer, even if the joke is on me.
As far as double personas, I think to each their own. Most YouTubers that I really get along well with are a good mix of multiple behaviours. It is just that they put that one behaviour in front of the audience more which is a little more relevant to their content and the audience. So it could be being an entertainer or being wise or just plain being fun.
We have seen some of your older photos, and your experiments with your beard. How did you find your current sense of fashion & style?
I hope you have seen only good photos! I know I have a lot of embarrassing photos online, and now some of them even have Marathi ukhans on them. I guess it’s just evolution of choice as time goes by.
What I have now is something that I thought looked good, but mostly it is what it is because it’s comfortable. I am not really obsessed with fashion, and my current style is what I like today. Maybe tomorrow you’ll see me without a beard. If there are budding stylists reading PMN India who want to style me, I am game!
From a degree in Hotel Management and then bartending, you made a switch to YouTube. What prompted this switch?
It was not exactly a switch, there was a time when I was bartending and making YouTube videos at the same time. They say you get some awkward conversations as a bartender. Mine were funny and awkward at the same time. Especially when the patrons had seen a couple of my videos and could identify me. When I could sustain my YouTube channel, that’s when I made the switch.
How do you approach your sketches, your videos? What is your ideation process like?
As I said, a lot of my comedy is based out of funny observations. Sketch comedy is what I like as an art form so when I have a thought or I see a situation which is funny, I save it. My team and I talk about it and flesh it up into a proper sketch and then execute it. The starting point is, usually always an observation.
There’s this perception that men do not need to be fashion-conscious and that men have an intrinsic style that they are born with and need to stick with. Do you agree?
I am not the right authority to talk about it. But if we were to stick to what we were born with, we would still be in nappies. I think one’s sense of fashion evolves over time. There are people out there who know it far better than you do and so learn from them and experiment. After all, it’s just one life, so why keep it monotonous!
What are some sartorial staples that every guy should have in their closet?
A good white T-shirt, a good black T-shirt, a pair of fun denims, and in my case, caps. Lots and lots of caps.
How would you define your personal style statement?
It’s still under construction. It’s currently at its most comfortable but hey am open to experiments.
What do you prefer to wear on a date?
It’s the usual things for me. A good jacket, clean T-shirts and denim. That’s what I usually wear and I think that’s what I’d wear to a date.
What is that one fashion trend that you don’t understand or are unable to relate to?
I don’t think I’m a huge fan of any clothing that’s showcased during fashion shows. I’m a simple guy – I like chinos and solid tees.
Who is that one historical figure that you’d love to dress up as?
I don’t think my sense of style resonates with a historical figure. They had a very different sense of style back then. In fact, I think if I was born in the early 1900s, I would’ve still sported a casual pair of joggers and a solid T-shirt. Maybe a fedora hat instead of a cap to melt in with the trend back then.
What has been the best fashion advice that you’ve received to date?
The best fashion advice I’ve received is “Make sure you don’t forget to wear pants before you leave your house.”
What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career as an influencer?
Don’t jump in for becoming an influencer for its popularity. Instead, do what you really have fun doing. That way you will have an audience that’s totally relevant to you and can relate to you as well. I see a lot of people trying to do something just because they think it will make them famous, I’d say stick to what you love doing and stick to it with a lot of commitment and you will have your audience.
As much as people like to bash social media, there’s no denying the fact that a large chunk of our lives is being shaped by it. What better way to really gauge this phenomenon than by the rise of influencers over platforms like YouTube and Instagram? Indeed, the world has become one small ‘gram’.
As a series, ‘Influencing The ‘Gram’ seeks to explore how social media influencers have changed the way we think of fashion over the decade, and how for most of them, even though they consider themselves to be ardent renegades, fashion and style contribute immensely to their online personas.