Ahead of his Cannes red carpet debut, we catch up with Ankush Bahuguna to talk about life, career and more

Being one of the first Indian male beauty content creators, Ankush Bahuguna doesn’t mind being judged by the internet. Focusing on comedy and films, the Delhi boy is now in Mumbai and was recently in Bengaluru, where we caught up with him for a candid and fun chat
In frame: Ankush Bahuguna
In frame: Ankush Bahuguna

Bengaluru recently played host to the Under25 Summit, which featured a number of content creators and celebrities including Kenny Sebastian, Siddhant Chaturvedi , Shruti Haasan, Niharika NM, Babil Khan, Moses Koul, Vikrant Massey and Samantha Ruth Prabhu, to name a few. While we sat in the artiste lounge and sipped on coffee, we became used to the constant cheering and hooting of the crowd whenever an artiste was in the vicinity. We heard the crowd shouting and we ignored it assuming it was ‘just another influencer’ making their way to the artiste lounge, but this time, the hooting continued longer than usual. Curiosity piqued, we glanced over to see who it was that was getting this much attention. A cheerful, chirpy and enthusiastic Ankush Bahuguna was interacting with his fans and oozed enough energy to fill a football stadium.

Through his Instagram posts and stories, we have seen how interactive Ankush has been with his followers and watching him doing the same in person was very harm-warming. He even celebrated a fan’s birthday right there, amid the crowd. That sort of a connection with your followers is something special and Ankush can be considered one of the few content creators who has been able to establish that bond.

Ankush shot into the limelight by making comedy sketches but now, he has diversified into lifestyle, travel, beauty and skincare. Already the proud owner of the title of being the first Indian male beauty content creator to have his own YouTube show, he can now also proudly say that he is the first Indian male beauty content creator to make his debut at Cannes! We sat down with Ankush to talk about men’s skincare, beauty, his career and so much more. Excerpts from the interview.

In frame: Ankush Bahuguna
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How is your experience being in Bengaluru?

Bengaluru has given me trust issues because I was in a cab the day I landed here and I asked the driver what I should say as my opening line when I get on the stage. He asked me to say “nanna hotte-li magu ide,” which means ‘I am pregnant.’ But he told me it means, “it’s great to be here.” That’s what my experience in Bengaluru has been like. It’s been fun (smiles).

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How is your experience being part of the Under25 Summit ?

It’s great to connect with people who have made you reach where you are. We spend so much time on our phones, interacting with these people, it’s almost like I know them personally. I know their sense of humour, they know my sense of humour and we connect over the same things.

Your content has shifted to men’s grooming and skincare. How important are these conversations, in today’s scenario?

To be honest, I didn’t start it because it was important to start those conversations. I started it because it’s important for me. For me as a person, grooming or makeup or skincare or beauty is a very personal thing. So, if you think you’re into it, you should be able to do it without people judging you. I started it because I was learning a new skill in the lockdown. I didn’t have access to makeup artistes or stylists, so, I had to figure it out on my own. I used to shoot content with my mother, who is an actress but she doesn’t know anything about makeup. So, I decided to step up and experiment with makeup on my mother. I realised that I loved learning this skill. It was like going back to school and learning a subject you really love. So, I don’t think it’s necessary for everybody to do it. What’s necessary is for people to understand that it’s an individual choice and if people want to do it, you shouldn’t be judging them for doing so.

In frame: Ankush Bahuguna
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You mentioned that you started working with your mom?

She loves it. I am her personal makeup artiste. I have to be available every time she wants me to be available. I have flown down to Delhi because she wanted me to do her makeup for a particular wedding. This has become a thing among my relatives, as well.

How was growing up in Delhi?

I don’t know how to live anywhere else in the world and Delhi has such a vibe. Especially East Delhi, where I live. It’s still a very underrepresented community even when it comes to Delhi stereotypes. So, people have no idea what life is like over there. ‘Jamnapaar’ (across the River Yamuna) has been my biggest identity for the longest time and I’ve always been proud of where I come from. Now, I am in Mumbai, training as an actor and it is such a different world. I am at such a stage of my life that I have started liking Mumbai. Whenever I go back to Delhi, I feel a slight disconnect. I don’t know where I belong at this moment as I am all over the place.

How did your journey as a content creator begin?

I studied architecture and I also used to write for a leading men’s lifestyle platform. I did a bunch of short films and I noticed that my friends started becoming famous on Instagram. Then the word ‘creator’ came into being. I had no idea that you could be a brand yourself. My friends told me that they do the same thing that I do but the only difference was that I didn’t put it up on Instagram. Then I started putting up content on the social media platform and started gaining followers and brands started to show interest. I realised I could work for myself. That’s when I quit my job.

What’s your current lifestyle?

It’s mostly ‘home scenes’ (staying at home) for me. I have had a lot of Delhi nightlife, so, now whenever I go to Delhi, I just go to meet people and spend time with them. So, it’s mostly house parties. I go for brunched and l think I am becoming a ‘brunch person’ now. Especially when I go to Delhi in winters, the brunches are the best.

How do you make sure that your content resonates with the current generation?

For any creator, that’s the biggest challenge. The only way out is to be authentically yourself. If I try too hard and cater to only one audience, that won’t work. There is an audience for everybody on the internet. The moment you accept this fact, you’ll start finding your people.

What was the reaction of your parents when you told them about your job as a content creator?

I didn’t tell them for two years. When I started writing for this men’s lifestyle platform, I told my parents that there are no jobs in architecture and that there is recession. So, let me just earn through this right now. It was only when I was sure that I wanted to pursue a career in content creation that I told them about it. Then content started to pick up and people started recognising me on the roads. Because of that, my parents started to feel that I am doing something right.

What do you do when you are not working on any content?

I have decided that I want to travel a lot. I am not a traveller by instinct, so, I have to push myself to do it. Coming from a middle class family, the idea of saving up and going on a holiday is something we don’t consider often. The idea of the expense it will take for going on a trip is difficult to digest. I don’t want any regrets, so, I am pushing myself to travel more. My friends who have desk jobs tell me that I have the privilege to work from anywhere. So, my agenda is to travel more from all the free time that I have.

What can we expect from you, next?

Hopefully some good acting projects. I am being very careful about the projects I choose because I have an audience that follows me and they will be very excited for me. So, I have to do justice to that. I am really looking forward to some exciting acting work.

Email: alwin@newindianexpress.com

X: @al_ben_so

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