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Why Chhattisgarh’s ‘Village of Youtubers’ Got a Rs 25 Lakh Studio From Its District Collector

Thanks to IAS officer Sarveshvar Bhure, Chhattisgarh's Tulsi village got its own 'Hummer Studios' soon after several YouTube channels like Being Chhattisgarhiya, 36 Garhiya, Alwa Jalwa, Fun Tapri and Gold CG04 took off.

Why Chhattisgarh’s ‘Village of Youtubers’ Got a Rs 25 Lakh Studio From Its District Collector

“You know, in Tulsi village, we didn’t just become YouTubers. We turned the whole place into a YouTubers’ village. It’s as if our village found a new voice through YouTube, and now we’re all storytellers creating something special together,” says Jay Verma, a resident of this village in Chhattisgarh.

At this village, amazing things are taking place. Roughly 55 km from Raipur, Tulsi village is undergoing a major change as a result of the widespread use of YouTube by the locals. 

They have found it a useful platform for their creative expression. Not only is the digital revolution improving people’s lives, but it is also giving them access to new economic opportunities. In a place with limited opportunities, let’s explore how this village rose to this fame in the last one year alone. 

 It began with the ideation and creative efforts of Jay Verma and Gyanendra Shukla.
It began with the ideation and creative efforts of Jay Verma and Gyanendra Shukla.

How two residents scripted the village’s creative journey

The journey of Tulsi from being just another run-of-the-mill village to a ‘Youtuber Village’ began with the ideation and creative efforts of Jay Verma and Gyanendra Shukla, two locals here.  

Jay is a 31-year-old teacher-turned-YouTuber. Though he prefers not to listen to praises about himself, he is known to be popular among his students, and has a passion for visual art. He dreams of making films one day. 

Gyanendra, who is Jay’s friend, was working as a network engineer in a good company until 2014. 

In 2016, YouTube was a relatively new platform for rural areas like theirs. They decided to explore it as it didn’t require a significant investment. While Jay realised the importance of originality and started handling creative aspects, Gyanendra focused on the technical side of the work. 

“The technical knowledge comes naturally to me, so as a side hustle and out of passion, we began making videos,” said Gyanendra. They made videos with the children from their village and eventually formed a team, creating several channels.  

“YouTube would sometimes delete our channels because we maybe didn’t comply with their rules,” the duo says. Due to a lack of knowledge about the platform, they learned through trial and error. 

On 14 January, 2018, they launched the YouTube channel ‘Being Chhattisgarhiya’. As they continued, people began to notice their work, which was not typically considered as a regular job.

The YouTubers of Tulsi village, Raipur.
The YouTubers of Tulsi village, Raipur.

Initial hiccups and successes

Both Jay and Gyanendra’s families have still not completely come to terms with their YouTube careers. They do not look at what they do as something which will give them security. Initially, both of them were criticised a lot by their family members to have left ‘better’ jobs for YouTube. 

“At the beginning, we gained 2-3 thousand subscribers within a month. Our videos were circulating on WhatsApp, which was a significant help. We used to create short videos, often without much understanding, preparation, or ideas. Now, we have 1,20,000 subscribers on our channel,” explains Gyanendra.

“Our first wish was to make movies. Our goal was to do something that could provide employment to all the villages. We wanted to work on all online projects with the youth from our village. Our village is a small film city. Here, everyone is an artist,” he shares with happiness.

“The women, the elderly, and the children, all take an interest in our videos and support us. There are hundreds of YouTubers. We have all kinds of locations available in our village to tell a simple story. We have a railway station, a canal like river, greenery, jungle, colleges, schools, police stations. Every household in the village is part of our studio; just take permission and shoot. Everyone is supportive,” adds Jay.

A 59-year-old resident of the village, Pyarelal Verma, regularly acts in their videos. Playing age-appropriate roles, he enjoys participating in the shoots. 

“When the videos are uploaded, people from all over the country and the world watch them. Our relatives and friends from places like Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, and even from abroad call us to appreciate our work. They are proud of us. Sometimes we meet strangers who recognise us, talk to us, and are delighted to meet us. They say we are bringing glory to Chhattisgarh’s culture and to our village. This is the greatest reward for the innovative efforts here in Tulsi,” says Verma.

Tulsi’s transformation shows the potential of small towns and villages and proves that progress isn’t limited to large metropolises. Large number of  residents of Tulsi, from 15-year-olds to an 85-year-old woman, all are participating in YouTube videos coming out of the village. 

About 40 YouTube channels are currently active from the village today, around 12–14 of which are monetised. The most well-known channels are ‘36 Garhiya’, ‘Alwa Jalwa’, ‘Fun Tapri’, and ‘Gold CG04’, which are all well-known for their funny videos. Channels such as Gold CG04 also proudly present music that highlights the rich cultural legacy of Chhattisgarh.

The YouTubers resting before resuming their shoot at the village.
The YouTubers resting before resuming their shoot at the village.

District administration’s assistance and future plans

The Raipur district administration recognised this enormous pool of talent and acted swiftly to assist these young artists. “We are establishing cutting-edge studios and digital surroundings to help them become better artists and enable people to create excellent work and profit from their creativity. We’ve established ‘Hummer Flix’, the state’s first state-of-the-art studio, specifically for Tulsi’s social media content creators,” District Collector Sarveshvar Bhure shares.

Hummer Flix is a brand-new studio equipped with gimbals, drone cameras, cutting-edge computer systems, and contemporary cameras. 

The district collector also adds, “It’s a forward-thinking and innovative move towards digital enterprise. It was meant to help the talented youths in the area by providing infrastructure and information. The intention is to make use of their skills and inspire them to become digital entrepreneurs. We’ll make sure they pick up modern skills in line with emerging regional and global best practices.” 

Furthermore, the district administration is looking forward to assisting the village’s talent. In the near future, Hummer Flix will have more area to fit its one-room setup and provide the villages with more extensive tech help. The administration also intends to establish an institute where aspiring artists would receive professional training to hone their skills and create content of the advanced level that will be viewed outside all over.

The district administrator with the YouTubers of Tulsi village.
The district administrator with the YouTubers of Tulsi village.

Hummer Flix will have a positive impact in several areas, adds Gyanendra. “The wave of motivation is among the people with the support of the government and the administration, and they are recognising that this is something that the government acknowledges and supports. The environment has changed,” he adds. 

“This will give creative work more respect and a solid foundation. This has created an atmosphere where older family members have confidence that this work is good,” Gyanendra says with a smile.

“I thank the Chhattisgarh government for providing facilities for our Tulsi village studios. Many facilities are available now. However, there is a need to constantly upgrade these facilities because the tech field is changing rapidly and improving,” adds Jay.

Jay and Gyanendra now want to march towards making a movie. They have been working on four to five scripts for some time now. Finally, they have zeroed it down to making a comedy movie in the near future. 

“We have friends who can help with the music, editing, and other artists from the village can pitch in too. We write our own content, so we hope to do this work at a very low cost,” adds Jay.

Authored by Jinendra Parakh from Raipur, Chhattisgarh.

Edited by Padmashree Pande.

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