Instagram's hottest face Nick Bateman has more to him than good looks

Updated: Aug 26, 2018, 14:24 IST | Kusumita Das | Mumbai

When the Canadian hottie popped out of Instagram to land in the city, fans didn't know where to look. Sunday mid-day gets a glimpse of how he casts a spell

Bateman poses for a selfie with a fan at Gateway of India in Colaba
Pics/Bipin Kokate
Bateman poses for a selfie with a fan at Gateway of India in Colaba Pics/Bipin Kokate

Why does a Canadian-born martial artiste, who transitioned into a model and is now an actor, have over six million followers on Instagram? One glance at Nick Bateman's Instagram page might just be enough to know why. Further still, wanting to know what the fuss was about, we met him in person, the day he landed in Mumbai, on his first-ever visit to India. The six-feet-four-inch hunk is here to shoot for Model Diaries, a series of videos produced by Etihad Airways. Right from the time he landed at the airport at 4 am, the Internet exploded. "There were about 50 people waiting for me, at that hour," he tells us when we meet, still seeming to find it hard to believe. Thanks to analytics, Bateman was aware of his huge follower base in India. About seven days ago, he asked his followers on his page which country he should visit next. "I got a lot of responses from India, but funnily enough I didn't tell them I'd soon be in Mumbai," smiles the 31-year-old.

He had been in the city for 16 hours when we met, and barring the traffic and the spicy food [which he liked] Bateman had not experienced much of Mumbai until then. On Tuesday, the Mumbai rains seemed adamant to give this sunny California resident a taste of the monsoons. As he took a stroll around Gateway of India, the skies began to open up. But, it was raining fans as well. People flocked to him, wanting selfies and Bateman went on to oblige nearly all of them. In the few moments when he was left alone, he took selfies with stray dogs, much to the collective sighs of 'aww's and 'ooh's from the surrounding crowds. The next day, we learnt there was a mini stampede at The St. Regis Hotel where Bateman was staying and also attending the Lakme Fashion Week.

Why the fuss — we ask the man himself. "It could be vanity — the way I look. On my social media, I promote positivity. I love my life, my girlfriend, travelling, animals, martial arts. I try to put a positive spin on negative things. When they see me, they see that. Having said that, if they are looking up to me I am lucky, but, I am not above them. If they want to take a picture with me, I am thankful and of course I will give them my time," he says, in between bites of some five-star pani puri at the Taj Mahal Palace. When we tell him it's actually street food, he seems stunned. He is also incredulous that the journey from Colaba to Lower Parel [five miles] could take over an hour in the evening traffic.

Bateman joined Instagram in 2013 and while he says he has had a lucky strike, strategy played a role too in his popularity. "The algorithm at that time was such that the more likes you got on your videos, the better chance you had to be on Instagram's popular page. Of course, they didn't tell you that, it's something I figured out while observing patterns." Having had three world titles in martial arts, he would post multiple videos of the bo staff, that was his forte. "I treated my page like a channel and filtered out stuff people were not interested in — what I ate, for instance. And, it snowballed from there. Now, of course it's very different. People want to see more of the stuff relate to my personal life, and know me better as a person. It's funny how it has evolved," Bateman says, adding, "I remember when I first shared a picture of my girlfriend, girls went like, 'forget this, unfollow'. And that's fine with me. I never got into it to get followers; I got lucky along the way.

Sometimes, it is a bit of a concern that people are only following me to look at me aesthetically." While the world has tagged him as an Instagram phenomenon, he doesn't want to be classified as just that. "I am an entrepreneur, a martial artist, an actor and I am very opinionated. I have hardly revealed that side of myself to my fans. I understand if they only see pictures of me with my dog, they'll think of me as this vapid airhead. It's a vicious cycle."

So, off late, there has been a lot more of the real Nick Bateman on his page. His fans have been told that he is about to become a father. "My son Chase is three weeks away. And soon my posts are going to be a lot about my life as a father. It's hard for me not to talk about something that I am so passionate about."

Nick Bateman
Nick Bateman

How to be 'Insta' famous
'Instagram has now become so saturated that the only way to break clutter is to collaborate with your followers. I have never done that, but, now, it's the smart thing to do. Also, never spread hatred or be disrespectful. Have no shame about who you are, love it and totally own it. People love to see confidence'

Who does Nick Bateman follow
'I recently followed Will Smith, I find his content funny and love that he is so motivating towards his children. I also follow Connor McGregor, UFC champion, who I am a huge fan of. And I follow a lot of animal pages, as I am a huge animal lover'

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