Iftekhar Rafsan, better known as 'Rafsan The ChotoBhai', is a prominent YouTuber in Bangladesh. He is inarguably one of the most popular food-vloggers in the country, though he terms himself as more of an 'entertainer' than food-vlogger. In a recent interview on HardPixelTV, he spoke about his life, YouTubing and beyond.
Rafsan, 22, has gained a lot of popularity making videos on YouTube. But that doesn't make him feel like a celebrity. "When I am in front of the camera, I cannot afford to switch from what I actually am. I like to talk to people and make friends. But a lot of people text me and sometimes it becomes difficult for me to reply to all of them," he said.
When asked how it all started and the story behind the title "Rafsan The ChotoBhai," he said, "I was in class eight and I randomly filmed a video. The name 'Rafsan The ChotoBhai' came as randomly as the video. Everyone sort of laughed at it and I was compelled to make the video private. That's when I decided that I'd make the video public again when my YouTube channel reaches 1 million subscribers."
Rafsan credited two of his friends for what he is now: "I want to give credit to a couple of my friends, Ekramul and Nabil. They had a YouTube channel. Ekramul came up with the idea to make a food vlog with me. I was a fresher at university back then and quite nervous. We went to Burger King and made an impromptu video. Although now I edit all my videos, it was Ekramul who himself filmed and edited the video. That's how it all started."
Recently, Rafsan made a special Q&A video on the occasion of hitting 200,000 subscribers on YouTube which featured his mother. When asked about his depth of relationship with his family, Rafsan said, "During this tough time, I've realized that family is the most important thing. It's the root and we should never forget this. Those who have their families and close ones should consider themselves blessed. Because at one point of your life, you may lose yourself. That's when you realize how important family is."
Other than a YouTuber, Iftekhar Rafsan is a professional E-Sports athlete and has a passion for gaming. "I have been a gamer since my school days and I have my own gaming channel called Outlaw TV which is not as popular though. It's always difficult to promote things like gaming in Bangladesh," he said.
Rafsan recently collaborated with Sonny, the owner of the YouTube channel 'Best Ever Food Review Show', and was immediately impressed. "I collaborated with Sonny recently and I have learned a lot from him. The most remarkable thing which I noticed was the production value. He even got an offer to host a Netflix show. I was really impressed with that and hopefully I will start something international after the crisis ends," Rafsan mentioned.
At present the money that people make from YouTube is not substantial, especially in Bangladesh. But Rafsan still keeps himself motivated and thanks the brands which are helping the YouTubers. "The money we get from YouTube is very small in amount. The YouTubers in Europe make three times as much as us for the same number of views. But thanks to some endorsements and sponsorships, I am actually motivated to make more videos. A lot of brands, in this case, are helping the YouTubers overcome the social sigma and I am thankful to them."
Food-vlogging has started to make its way into the mainstream media. Even though the market is niche, there has been splendid progress as the number of restaurants keeps on increasing.
But Rafsan realizes that the viewers demand entertainment alongside food reviewing. "I believe humans are programmed in such a way that they can do literally everything. So making only food review videos won't work," Rafsan said, adding, "What the audience wants is entertainment. So I want to make sure that people are entertained and I want to make the viewers a part of my journey."
It is difficult to deal with popularity and stardom as someone as popular like Rafsan is followed everywhere. He believes being popular has its pros and cons. "When you are up to a good thing, people praise you. But when you even mistakenly do something bad, people will label it as hundred times worse than it actually is. So I guess being popular has its pros and cons," Rafsan explained.
Rafsan wants to present his YouTube channel to an international audience. He has plans to travel abroad and explore each and every country after the crisis ends.
Already a popular YouTuber, a businessman, an entrepreneur and a social media influencer, Rafsan doesn't want to look back. Earlier this year, he was awarded 'The top content creator of The Yearb(2019)' by the state minister of ICT. It can be sensed that the 'Chotobhai' of YouTube has a desire to make it bigger in the future.