FIFA, shisha and practical jokes: The guys behind YouTube hit ‘Jordindian’

TNM speaks to Jordindian’s Nas and Vineeth about their journey and more importantly, whether we will ever meet Dinesh?
FIFA, shisha and practical jokes: The guys behind YouTube hit ‘Jordindian’
FIFA, shisha and practical jokes: The guys behind YouTube hit ‘Jordindian’
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A Fast and Furious-style street race is about to begin on a road in Bengaluru, except the muscle cars, souped-up bikes and death-defying stunts have been replaced by a beat-up Maruti Suzuki, an auto and a traffic-blocking bull. Naser Al Azzeh, or just Nas, revs the car’s engine and looks over at Vineeth ‘Beep’ Kumar in the auto. Their mission is to overcome obstacles Vin Diesel couldn’t even imagine, but that urban Indians know well — the random drum-beating processions, shady cops and the inescapable urge for chai. 

This isn’t just Fast and Furious. It’s Full Fast, Full Furious.

It’s been three years since that mock trailer was created by the comedic duo Nas and Vineeth, the faces behind Jordindian, an immensely popular four-year-old YouTube channel with a devoted fan following that grows daily. Over two million subscribers wait anxiously for an unmistakable brand of Bengaluru humour in sketch comedy and rap videos that put the two friends in hilarious and often way-too-realistic scenarios.  

“We always had this thought in our heads — Oh, imagine we put this person in a certain scenario. Like Wolverine in India, and then we laugh about it. Our videos are an extension of our realities. We come across people on a daily basis and we often incorporate what happens in our lives on video,” Nas tells TNM. 

It’s a world immediately recognisable to Bengalureans, or anyone familiar with the city, but populated with a cast of characters of Vineeth and Nas’s own making: The guy who orders “pasta bologanesh” at a restaurant, the uncle who doesn’t know how to use his smartphone (“How to slide into DMs?”) or the mother who scolds her son for asking for food when there’s no water or power (“I look like Genie or what?”).

It’s also the conversations you have when you’re stuck in traffic. Or the whistles and chirps that come out of your mouth to call a waiter. Or telling yourself you have 10 minutes to kill before you have to start studying at 11 o’clock but all of a sudden it’s 11.45, so, oh well, you might as well wait till noon. 

The two men met in 2008. Nas was explaining a Russel Peters joke to his friend, and Vineeth, true to his character, was eavesdropping on them. 

"I said yeah, I've heard that joke and that was how we got to talking. We rode back on the bus that evening and realised we are practically neighbors," Vineeth says.

It soon became clear that they shared a particular brand of humour and an easy rapport that’s hard to miss in their videos now. But they also had different career paths and interests they wanted to chase — Nas was into breakdancing and was doing a course in HR management, Vineeth was into hip-hop beatboxing and was working in television production. Plus, the idea of being YouTubers seemed far fetched at the time. 

But they decided to try making a video together. Just to see if it would work. 

Vineeth, however, was skeptical that the idea for Jordindian would take off. For one, he was only visiting Bengaluru on weekends back then. “The other reason was that the kind of content we wanted to do was not the kind of content that was consumed in India. We thought our content would not work unless we dedicated time, which I didn't think was possible then,” he says. 

Vineeth 'Beep' Kumar

Among the two of them, Nas was the optimistic one. “He is the one with the positive outlook and I am more grounded in reality. This is how we balance each other out. He said let's do it for our family and friends and I said yes, I’ll come along for the ride and see where it goes,” Vineeth adds. 

After their fourth or fifth video together, they hit one-lakh views in just two days. 

“Suddenly, we thought this could go somewhere. I came back to Bengaluru full-time by quitting my job. I didn’t tell my parents then but I came back and told Nas, let’s give it six months, if it doesn’t work out we go back and do what we were doing… It has now been four years,” Vineeth says. 

Jordindian is now one of the most recognisable names in the Indian YouTube creators’ landscape racking up millions of views on every video. They mined their love of films, pop culture and hip-hop for the videos they created, and took inspiration from conversations and situations they faced in their day-to-day lives growing up in Bengaluru. 

The easiest part of the process was coming up with the name. “He’s from Jordan and I’m from India and hence, Jordindian,” says Vineeth. 

“Even though my dad is from Jordan, I grew up mostly in India and we both have a Bangalorean mentality,” says Nas, a trait now recognisable in their videos. Those cultural influences from across continents have also become a defining part of their comedy. 

The duo’s most watched video, with over 13 million views — Smoke Shisha Play FIFA — feature Vineeth and Nas rapping about Middle Eastern cliches from hummus and fancy cars to halal and desert safaris. The idea, Nas says, goes back to his sister’s wedding in Jordan. 

“Vineeth came to Jordan and asked what do people do for fun here? I answered, we smoke shisha and play FIFA and stuff like that. Subliminally, it got stuck in our head but we had not started making videos back then. So when we did start the channel, the words popped up and I thought this sounds catchy,” he says.

On a mix of impulse and instinct in mid-2018, Nas and Vineeth flew to Jordan (or as the video says, “somewhere in the Gelf.”) 

“The next thing you know, we booked tickets to go to Jordan because we wanted to publish the video before the (football) World Cup final. Even Jordan tourism came on board and everything just fell in place. I remember thinking ‘Shit, we are in Jordan now,’” adds Nas.

Nas starred as Mahmoud (who likes to play the FIFA) and Vineeth played Raju, an Indian discovering a new way of living life. 

“Nas wrote the lyrics and painted a picture where it was a journey across different places (in Jordan). It would be an injustice to shoot it in Malleshwaram,” Vineeth says, chuckling. 

Naser Al Azzeh

Over the last two years, the duo have consistently churned out videos, even through the nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Though many of their planned sketches had to be put on hold, they realised that a camera was all they needed to make their videos work. The rest, in their own words, is an extension of their realities playing out on screen. 

Their latest video — Locked up in the Lockdown — came to life over video calls and was shot after restrictions were partially lifted in Bengaluru. “We maintained [physical] distancing while shooting the video. It was easier to coordinate over a song rather than a sketch. We have our music producer Bharat in one part of Bengaluru, Nas is in another corner. It was just a lot easier to coordinate and make a music video,” Vineeth says. 

In the years since Jordindian first started, they have gone on to collaborate with artists such Lily Singh, Brodha V, and Niharika NM, a Bengaluru-based YouTuber who is a recurring character in their videos.

And everyone’s favourite local politician and uncle played by comedian Danish Sait, whose lockdown conversation videos have turned into a social media sensation, is also featured in a Jordindian video from 2017. The duo credits Danish for helping them in their early years. “He (Danish) was the first one to actually guide us in the industry,” Vineeth says. 

And if you’re an ardent follower of the channel, you’ve probably noticed the recurring character Dinesh, who is either playing cricket or standing for elections or starting fights. Except we’ve never actually met him — and Vineeth and Nas don’t plan on introducing him anytime soon. 

“He is our retirement plan,” Nas says, laughing. “Our grand reveal at the end of everything.”

All photographs courtesy: Jordindian

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