In conversation with rakin absar about his improvisational creative process
How did the journey of Rakin Absar, the content creator, begin?
It all began by accident, actually. When I was around 17, I got involved in a university video project where we were supposed to give flowers to strangers and capture their reactions. But I found that idea boring, so I decided to annoy people instead and film their responses. Surprisingly, the video went viral overnight, getting 50,000 views in no time. That experience gave me a rush of excitement and made me think, “Hey, maybe I can create content!” Initially, I was all about chasing views and recognition. But as time went on, I started taking content creation more seriously and decided to actually pursue it.
What prompted your four-year break from content creation?
As I have said, at first it was the fame and recognition that motivated me to create content. I used to create content that I thought audiences would like, instead of being authentic and expressing my true creative self. This conflict resulted in me becoming depressed. I realised that I needed to break to rediscover myself. During this hiatus from content creation, I concentrated on my university education and travelled a lot. I love travelling, meeting new people and learning about different cultures, and I believe my travels made me into a well-rounded person.
While content creators here can make money through their online platforms or brand collaborations, their career prospects are so limited that there is little incentive to pursue it further after a certain point
Walk us through your creative process. How does monetisation affect the way you do comedy?
My manager, Fahim, has really streamlined my process. When it comes to making videos, I mostly improvise. When working with a brand, I usually create a story in my head and then I just share the concept. I don’t write scripts, but I do visualise how the story will unfold, including the sequence and framing of shots. The humour part is unscripted and improvised. The quality of the content depends a lot on how the video is edited and the order of the shots. Editing a video usually takes me a whole day because I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I try to edit all my videos myself, but if it gets too overwhelming, I pass them on to my video editors.
The brands I work with are pretty lenient about giving me creative freedom. They might have some requirements, such as no swearing, and I try to respect that. When content creators collaborate with brands, usually the brands have the final say, but not in my case. Brands want to work with me because I’m unique and a bit ‘edgy’. I let them know they have to let me do things my way and find a way to naturally incorporate their brand into my videos. Sometimes brands want me to cut out certain scenes because they think they’re offensive, but if I feel strongly about a scene, I’ll keep it and make the video without integrating their brand. My main focus is on building my own brand and creating my own content, not making money. I’m absolutely not willing to sacrifice my brand and style for someone else.
How do you balance maintaining consistent output and avoiding burnout?
My work is my life, and my life revolves around my work. I go to therapy every few weeks, and I try to reflect and write down what I’m feeling in a journal. This helps me a lot, as I can understand my feelings and monitor my mental health. I always tell people to take care of their mental health, but I myself find it difficult as I don’t have the time. To avoid burnout, I also travel and engage in retail therapy. I actually think I’m addicted to shopping.
When working with a brand, I usually create a story in my head and then I just share the concept. I don’t write scripts, but I do visualise how the story will unfold, including the sequence and framing of shots. the humour part is unscripted and improvised.
What challenges do Bangladeshi content creators face in terms of recognition within the industry?
While there have been an increasing number of award shows for influencers in our country, the organisers tend to lump comedy, travel and cooking content all together into the ‘Entertainment’ segment. Personally, I have been nominated for three influencer awards in the ‘Entertainment’ category, and the award always went to someone who is not a comedian, for eg, a food blogger. This lack of a separate category for comedians makes it difficult for others to properly acknowledge and judge their work. In my opinion, the Bangladeshi media industry lacks the knowledge of how to manage and respect content creators. In Western countries or even in West Bengal, comedians and content creators are held in much higher regard. Content creators like Logan Paul, PewDiePie and Mr Beast get so much respect and even land opportunities in Hollywood. However, here, content creators face limited opportunities. While content creators here can make money through their online platforms or brand collaborations, their career prospects are so limited that there is little incentive to pursue it further after a certain point.
Photographs: Shihab Mohammad