Way back in November 2016, Beatboxer Vineeth ‘Beep’ Kumar and artist Nasser Al Azzeh combined their Indian and Jordanian culture and diverse senses of humour to bring out their Youtube channel, Jordindian to people’s screens. Today 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.
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. The initial response was alright, the duo did have the support of friends, family and some well wishers. That definitely made it a lot easier and encouraged them to keep moving forward with it.
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.