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‘As a YouTuber, my biggest learning is not to look for validation’

Rajat Sharma, an entertainer and alumnus of Apeejay School, Mahavir Marg, rose to fame with his YouTube videos. In an interview, he talks about his online channel, acting journey and provides tips for aspiring content creators

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In 2016 when being a YouTuber was considered an unusual career choice, Rajat Sharma started his YouTube channel, ‘The Rajat Code’. Named so owing to Sharma’s ‘code of conduct’ that he swears by for his channel, the entertainer strives to create content that is family-friendly and thought-provoking. Simple and strong-willed in his approach, Sharma, 28, has more than 300k subscribers on his channel. He insists on calling his fans ‘decoders’ – ones who have decoded the secret of true happiness and self-sufficiency. Sharma shares his journey, school days and inspiration in an exclusive interview. Edited excerpts:  

Please tell us about your educational journey.

I completed my schooling from Apeejay School, Mahavir Marg in Jalandhar. After that, I completed a degree in B.Com. I then pursued a post-graduation in theatrical arts from the Apeejay College of Fine Arts (ACFA) in Jalandhar. During that time, I started my YouTube channel.

How did you come up with the idea for your channel?

I always wanted to have a career where I could set my own boundaries and timelines. During my post-graduation, I was consistently involved in youth festivals, college programmes, special activities and college assemblies. At that time, I started posting stuff here and there on my Snapchat id. While I was putting up some Behind-the-Stage shots and videos from regular college activities, I garnered some attention online from people. Soon I had thousands of people following me on Snapchat and I realised that I could do something about it. These small stints gave me the confidence to be in front of the camera, and so I thought if I could sit at the comfort of my home, do a camera set-up and start my YouTube channel, it would be great. That’s how ‘The Rajat Code’ came into being.

What does your creative process look like?

What I do is more a form of ‘observational comedy’ and my channel cannot be straight-jacketed into a specific genre. It is consistently evolving, for example, if I go to a café or any public space, I observe people behaving in a certain way. I pick up their tone and mannerisms because this is something that I have learnt during my theatre classes. On my channel, I also often document my life, daily routine, eating habits etc. and blog about it. Sometimes, I talk about social issues, feminism, gender parity, discrimination and like to put out conversations that I want to start. The process remains fluid with every experience I go through in my life, and the themes keep changing.

Does YouTube fame promise a lucrative career?

For some people, an aspiration could be job security and they want that each month they get a certain amount credited to their bank accounts. Others would be okay if a project ends in some months and then they get a final amount. The remuneration which may or may not happen consistently, therefore, makes a YouTube career, an offbeat and ‘brave choice.’ It’s not like every month, you would get brand deals, events or even projects. However, for a YouTuber, opportunities are endless because millions of people are watching/can watch your videos. YouTube opens doors if you wish to audition for roles in films; it gives peoples’ recommendations for you.  

Can making videos consistently become a daunting task?

I do take breathers from content creation because it is necessary. Just like any other profession, one can saturate, so one has to step back for a little while. There is no point posting videos if you aren’t happy with it. One must put out stuff that one believes in. The key is to create a balance between having a good mental space to work and working hard.

Is it a lot of pressure to have an active social media presence all the time?

Yes and no. Of course, you have to keep your audience updated. It is this constant question that I keep asking myself, ‘Am I living my life or simply just capturing it?’ Recently my sister paid me a visit in Mumbai, and I purposely did not record anything during that time. Posting or not posting things is purely subjective and it has taken a lot of time for me to get rid of such pressure.

How has Apeejay helped you in your journey?

I really credit my school for everything. I would not be here if it wasn’t due to the support of my teachers at school and college. The kind of opportunities, environment they provided to me, it was ideal. I am very grateful to them.

What has been the biggest learning for you as a YouTuber?

It is, ‘to not seek validation from people.’ When I started, a lot of people did not understand my profession as a YouTuber. In 2016, not many people knew that YouTube could actually pay you and the concept was new. I want to say that conceptualising, scripting, shooting, and eventually editing a video takes a lot of effort. After that, one has to post, market and again come back to zero with a new idea every time. The whole process is a lot of work and it takes a lot of patience and perseverance. Only when one starts to believe in the content, they grow.  

For aspiring content creators, your word of advice?

If you really want to start, my tip would be: Start out now! Firstly, don’t wait for the best equipment, backdrop or camera. Don’t spend too much money on getting the best of everything right at the start. Secondly, don’t think about how many people would see your content. Do what makes you happy, and enjoy the process. I still live by the motto of Apeejay, my school: ‘Soaring High Is My Nature,’ and my mantra is to try to become a better version of myself from yesterday. 

Mrini Devnani is a Senior Correspondent and Marketing Coordinator at Newsroom. She covers student achievements, interviews and contributions for the website. She was a former Correspondent covering Edutech for the India Today Group, and has passion for Social Media and Digital Marketing. You can reach her at [email protected]

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