18th March 2016: I guess this happens to most of us – we make a LOT of plans but don’t really succeed in executing them; and the impromptu decisions are the ones which lead to the creation of the best memories. A classmate of mine had offered the tickets to the YouTube Fan Fest (YTFF) last year, but I decided against it after weighing the pros and the cons. I had realized only later what I missed out on– the show was hosted by my favourite YouTubers Kanan Gill and Biswa Kalyan Rath (YTFF is a fest where popular YouTubers perform live – there are a LOT of events and performances by budding musicians as well as comedy channels). I was excited on hearing about YTFF this year too. There was a lot riding on the week ahead – a host of submissions and evaluations. After a big fat fight between the rational and the irrational part of my brain, the irrational one persisted, and I found myself waiting excitedly with the red wristband and the pass to the event at NSCI, Worli. My classmate-cum-project-partner Sree was equally psyched to be a part of it.
After much deliberation I left most of my stuff at Sree’s place and we took the local train to Mahalakshmi station. As we weren’t really aware about which direction to proceed, we approached a guy at a stall and asked him about NSCI. Without a thought he pointed to our right – I guess we weren’t exactly the first people to ask him for directions. We finally boarded a 661 to Nehru Planetarium and walked from there to NSCI (Thank you Google Maps!). We didn’t need the help of Google maps after a little while – the crazy screaming was just about enough to guide us there.
We went to the red carpet area first – and saw our favourite YouTubers being welcomed at the red carpet area. The interesting part was seeing them perform fun tasks in 7 seconds – right from posing for the perfect red carpet look to spelling the name of their YouTube channel backwards, and even quick nail art! I loved Kenny Sebastian’s response when he was told to do a cartwheel in 7 seconds – he said that he would attempt a cartwheel, although it might just turn out to be just a handstand for a split second. The atmosphere was pretty charged – the crowd would just go crazy at the mention of Connor Franta and Lilly Singh (a.k.a. ||Superwoman||). I couldn’t help but cheer with the crowd – I felt my voice getting hoarse with all the screaming, and this was barely the beginning!
The sultry weather didn’t do much to help the icky sweaty feeling, except for the occasional momentary breeze. After being stuck in a claustrophobic stampede-like situation for a good part of an hour we found our way to the auditorium. Although it was a mad rush, we enjoyed every instant. Sree and I had general passes, which meant that we wouldn’t get close to the VIP area. However, as we were one of the first people in, we did find decent seats. Abish Mathew was hosting the event. I didn’t really enjoy the first performance of the evening (a couple of prank channels pranking each other, and ultimately the audience). However, the frigid auditorium felt supercharged with the performances by Nucleya. The performance left us enthralled, especially the song Aaja, and we found ourselves cheering our throats hoarse by the end of it.
This was followed by stand-up comedy groups – AIB, Kenny Sebastian, EIC and SNG. Kenny’s song was pretty refreshing – especially the aalap. I loved the way the comedy groups incorporated the current affairs into their acts – Vijay Mallya’s escape from India was the butt of half their jokes. The mere mention of Superwoman was enough to make the crowd inside go completely nuts! SNG’s performance was refreshingly hilarious – it was an improvisation (They asked the audience for suggestions): what not to do in a particular profession. Other groups such as the Viva (with the mimicry of Comedy Nights with Kapil) and Put Chutney also had us in splits.
There were a series of musical performances scheduled, each one more stunning than the previous. The Indian Jam Project by Tushar Lall was my favourite – it felt like a trance (Here is the link). Another one of my favourites was The Sarthak Mudgal Collective – the only Opera singer in India had me at the edge of my seat throughout her performance. Maati Baani’s performance really set the stage on fire. Arjun, Shirley Setia and Kurt Hugo Schneider were great. Shirley has an amazing voice, and her choice of songs was just perfect.
I enjoyed the performances of Prajakta Koli and Rickshawali (I guess she forgot that Biswa is an IITian!) but was a tiny bit disappointed with Kanan and Biswa’s performance. They only hosted the Connor Franta event, which seemed pretty short. Sree was kinda unhappy that they didn’t let Connor speak much. The “Sealink-Ceiling-Streeling” joke was pretty hilarious though.
Abish was a fantastic host – he has a great stage presence. The part I loved about his segment however was his slow motion mimicry of cricket players. It was perfectly realistic – exactly like the slow-mo videos they show on TV (Call it weird, we could feel the time kinda slow down!). I was disappointed that I didn’t get to stay long enough to enjoy Sanam and Superwoman’s performance. I hope Ryan Higa comes to YTFF next year – he would elevate the fun level altogether!
The fun part was travelling back home alone – it had been a while since I travelled alone at night and hence I was a little uncomfortable about it in the beginning. The experience was totally worth it though. No matter what time of the night it is, one can always find someone walking on the roads – Mumbai is a city that never sleeps! Going for a late-night ice cream (and making my sister jealous with the photos) more or less made up for missing out on Superwoman’s performance. YTFF is one of the experiences I will remember for a long time.