TikTok Ban: City's TikTokers hope for Made in India platform

Updated: Jul 04, 2020, 07:41 IST | Diwakar Sharma, Vishal Singh | Mumbai

Though they feel the sting of their incomes having stopped abruptly due to the ban on the app, content creators welcome the government's decision, saying step taken for the country

BMXer Yousuf Shaikh
BMXer Yousuf Shaikh

Low-cost smartphones and the Chinese app TikTok had helped millions of Indian youngsters, some of whom could not make it in the film and TV industry, taste stardom. The recent banning of the app, among others from China, by the Indian government amid the face-off with the country, has upset TikTokers, but they are hopeful for an Indian-made app.

"I welcome the government's decision as tensions on the Indo-China border are rising. We are living in the Internet age and I am hopeful that an Indian application, similar to TikTok, will soon come," said Mohit Tandon who used to earn R17,000 through TikTok videos promoting products and services. "I had come to Mumbai to become an actor but could not get a break So I turned to TikTok where my videos were liked by millions. I had a following of one million people," said Tandon, who has also appeared on reality shows as a face dancer. He returned home to Jaipur a month ago to be with his family.

Mohit

TikTokers used to throng the public park in BKC, which served as a good location, to make videos. Some of them still visit the place to rehearse. mid-day met a group of boys practising on BMX bikes at the park.

'Continuing practice'

BMXer Yousuf Shaikh told mid-day that he used to make R50,000 per month through campaign shows. "I had been making Tik Tok for two years. There were 9.5 million followers. I would easily make R40,000 to R50,000 per month. We are not making any videos now but are focussing on honing our skills," said Shaikh, a Mahim resident. He practises at the park every evening.

"I won a gold medal in BMX sports in Malad in 2016. Now I am practising to participate in a competition in Bangladesh. In 2018, my group Team D-17 also participated in a reality show," Shaikh said. "TikTok's ban has reduced our support but we are willing to give up all such apps for the Indian Army. I am talented, I shall continue my work elsewhere."

TikTok star Sarfaraz Ansari. PIC/SURESH KARKERA
TikTok star Sarfaraz Ansari. Pic/Suresh Karkera

Sarfraz Ansari, 24, who lives in Dharavi, also had 6.2 million followers. A BMS graduate, he had been interested in getting photographed. Noticing how viral TikTok videos became, Ansari started uploading content and got tremendous response.

'TikTok gave me recognition'

"In college, nobody knew me. But TikTok gave me recognition. After completing my studies, I joined a private company. When I noticed people making a living out of social media, I, too, joined. My family was initially upset with me, but when they noticed that it is an opportunity to earn, they supported me," Ansari said.

Ansari had been uploading content on TikTok for a year and a half. He had fans not only in Mumbai but in other cities too, some of whom came to meet him from Surat.

Ansari never made videos in Dharavi. He would always go to posh areas, even out of Mumbai. "I was dependent on my income from TikTok. Now I will look for another way. Seeing the situation between the two countries, the ban has been taken for the country's good. I will earn through Instagram and YouTube," he said.

TikToker Sameer Mark. PIC/SURESH KARKERA
TikToker Sameer Mark. Pic/Suresh Karkera

Another Dharavi resident, Sameer Mark, 25, has a BA from Mumbai University. He had 3.2 million followers. Mark wanted to pursue an MBA but did not have the money. In 2016, he worked for some time in the catering industry, bought a secondhand Android phone with the money he earned and eventually became a social media star. He had started with Instagram, but TikTok got him more likes. Mark says that people liked his hairstyles and that he can style his hair in 15 different ways. "I had been getting an overwhelming response in the past six months. Some salons have even displayed my pictures due to my hairstyles," Mark said.

"I was earning well through TikTok, so much so that I am going to buy a car. I am not worried about the ban though, because the decision has been taken for the country."

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