Two weeks ago, on the day of his wedding, Manish Karnatak left his ceremonial duties midway and locked himself up in his room for three hours. It was well past noon, and the fans on his Facebook page were getting impatient to watch the latest video from Bollywood Classroom, an online weekly show by him that cracks hilarious jokes, punning on Bollywood song names.
As absurd as it is to leave your marriage midway to post a video on YouTube, Karnatak felt he had no option but to give in to the incessant messages he was flooded with. Bollywood Classroom has become popular for its outrageous, but “weirdly funny” videos. In the seven months since it started, his YouTube channel Mania Ki Duniya has 1.5 lakh subscribers with most of the views for the Bollywood Classroom show, and a following of 7 lakh fans on the show’s Facebook page. “Everyone enjoys PJs, irrespective of the lack of logic, and that’s what makes this content work,” says Karnatak.
Every episode, about two minutes long, takes a popular Bollywood track, and makes up a ridiculous story behind the song’s title. For example, in Duniya ki Spelling, the show’s first episode, the professor explains to the classroom that the “I” in “duniya” leads to the Kumar Sanu hit from the ’90s, Duniya mein ‘Aaye’ ho toh love kar lo, punning on the alphabet “I”. The videos have colourful, animated stick figures with stock characters — a class of students and a professor, that could have been Karnatak himself.
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The show is the product of a bored afternoon, when Karnatak started messing around with Flash, an animation software. “I would do this in school — break down film songs or just people’s names and share it with classmates as a joke. It came naturally to me, but I never thought anything could be done with it,” says the 30-year-old from Delhi, who works for a radio channel by day. His doodling has paid off, with the show making money through a partnership with Google and Snapdeal, the e-commerce website.
There are a bunch of new humour channels online, but Karnatak says his has the distinction of being the only comedy channel dedicated to Bollywood. He owes his sense of humour to “desi, non-dirty jokes and Govinda movies”, and has new content underway, with shorter videos — under a minute-long — to break the monotony.