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Indian laborer Isak Munda is a YouTube star praised by PM Modi

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Indian laborer Isak Munda is a YouTube star praised by PM Modi

Covid-19 lockdowns prompted an Indian daily wage laborer to turn to YouTube. Isak Munda is now a social media star who has been praised by Prime Minister Modi.

Isak Munda, from India’s Orissa state, was desperate when he published his first YouTube video in March 2020. A statewide lockdown established to stop Covid had brought India to a halt, as had the construction sector that hired him. Workers like him, who were paid on a daily basis, were left fighting to make ends meet. Until one day, inspiration struck.

Mr Munda was watching a cartoon on YouTube with his children when he overheard an announcement about how individuals might earn money from the network by sharing videos.

Why not give it a shot, he reasoned, he had nothing to lose. So he scoured YouTube for tips and started with simple culinary videos.

Mr Munda sits with a full plate of food – rice, dal, greens, a tomato, and a chile – in his first film, which he finishes in silence after welcoming viewers.

“No one watched my video for about a week.

He decided to try again, returning to YouTube for assistance and discovering that many creators actively advertised their videos on other social platforms.”

Soon after, he posted his first viral video, in which he enjoys basi pakhala, a fermented rice meal traditional in Orissa. “It helped me gain over 20,000 subscribers in a matter of days.

It was viewed by people from all around the world, including the United States, Brazil, and Mongolia “He thinks back.  Mr Munda’s channel, Isak Munda Eating, now has over 800,000 subscribers and his videos have been seen over 100 million times.

Mr Munda is now noticeably at ease in front of the camera, hosting local “chicken parties” and mushroom foraging with his family.

In his monthly radio broadcast last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded him for “blending culture and cuisine” to become a “internet star.” The fad began in South Korea and Japan about 2010 and quickly spread throughout the world.

Millions of people watch prominent mukbang channels, such as MaddyEats from India.

Fans of the genre say they enjoy playing mukbang films in the background while eating, especially if they are eating alone – it helps them feel less lonely. Mr Munda, on the other hand, had no idea of any of this when he began posting.

He just searched through various video categories before picking on food, which he knew he could cook with the help of his wife.

“I figured viewers would be interested in seeing how our lives seem through food,” he explains.

And YouTube was his tutor; it’s where he learned what camera to buy, how to shoot and edit videos, and even how to make the dishes he wanted to record himself eating.

He drew 3,000 rupees ($39; £30) from his savings, a sizable sum for him, and bought a smart phone to produce films.

He paid for the entire sum in instalments. He had dropped out of school and knew very little English.

He did, however, teach himself how to utilise email and social media to spread the news about his channel. He also learned how to add subtitles to his videos using Google Translate.

And he’s gotten better.

The first video features him eating his lunch in a single take. “Hello, buddies,” he greets them in Hindi. “I’m about to eat what’s on this dish.”

However, by February 2022, the videos had changed.

He doesn’t shoot every meal or every day; instead, he saves his camera for big occasions like a village party.

Indians from all around the world remark on his films, comparing the food he’s eating to what they cook at home.

Many people admired how he lived his life openly and honestly. “Their community meal looks like so much fun,” one viewer writes, and another adds, “He genuinely understands the worth of food and how to respect it.”

Mr Munda’s repertoire has grown over time. Food challenges are also on the menu; for example, in a rice eating challenge, he cooked the rice over an open fire in the ground and then ate it with his family.

“We still eat simple meals every day,” he says, despite the fact that they can now afford to eat meat more frequently.

His children’s future. Mr Munda earned roughly 250 rupees each day as a daily wage labourer, for 18 to 20 days of work every month.

This was hardly enough to support a family of six, including his parents.

Mr Munda’s monthly income increased to roughly 300,000 rupees as his channel rose in popularity. However, when his beliefs decline, so does his income. He currently earns between 60,000 and 70,000 rupees every month.

Mr Munda has built a two-story concrete house on the site of his former rickety hut using the money he has earned so far.  He claims to have spent about 200,000 rupees on it. He has put money aside for his children’s education, purchased a used car, and a laptop on which he edits films.

He has also become a local celebrity, throwing elaborate parties for the villagers that include chicken meals. Mr Munda’s next ambition is to enrol his children in an English-medium school in the next town.

“I want to provide them with the best education available.”

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