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How 'Khan Sir' became a social media sensation

By SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF
July 24, 2020 12:22 IST
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Unlike other SM sensations, 'Khan Sir' became a star with well-researched news-related videos, not 30-second inanities.
Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com tracks down the elusive coach to IAS aspirants.

 

Be it the South China Sea problem or floods in Assam or even Hagia Sophia, the monument in Istanbul that Turkish President Erdogan has converted into a maosque, 'Khan Sir' explains these current topics in Hindi in roughly 25-minute long videos.

The popularity of his videos can be gauged from the numbers each one boasts.

So if you haven't received his videos in your WhatsApp groups or in any of your social media accounts, then either you are an elitist snob -- or it is just a matter of time before someone posts 'Khan Sir''s video on your timeline.

'Khan Sir' is a social media star, but he has achieved his fame with well-researched news-related videos, not 30-second inanities.

When I started tracking 'Khan Sir', I thought it would be easy as he runs the Khan Study Group for IAS aspirants in Patna and his phone number should be easy to find.

The person at the other end of the phone was elusive and did not respond enthusiastically when told that someone wanted to interview his boss.

"Khan Sir is not here. Call later," said the curt voice and the phone was disconnected instantly.

After three attempts and six hours later, the person on the other side gave me 'Khan Sir''s phone number with the caveat that he only speaks on WhatsApp so to message him before calling.

I note down the number and send a message to 'Khan Sir', requesting time for an interview, but no reply arrives.

I then call the phone number to find out that it is indeed 'Khan Sir' on the line.

"I am editing my video on Assam, I am busy. Call me later," 'Khan Sir' says and disconnects the line.

I message him asking 'What time?'

7 pm, comes the answer.

I call at the appointed time, but no answer.

Weary of trying to connect with him, I try my luck at 8.30 pm and luckily this time 'Khan Sir' picks up the phone.

He apologises for the delay in connecting with him as he was busy uploading his video on Assam floods (external link).

"It has crossed 40,000 views within 20 minutes of me uploading it," says 'Khan Sir'. He is confident that it will touch 1 lakh plus views in one hour.

Okay, but how about starting with his name?

"Let that be a secret, I request you. I want it to be a secret like people wanted to know Katappa ne Baahubali ko kyon maara?" says 'Khan Sir'.

I prod him saying that Truecaller identifies him as Amit Singh, so who is he really?

He laughs and says, "I did that intentionally to mislead people because I do not want people to disturb me unnecessarily."

So how did he end up becoming a YouTube celebrity?

"It is due to the lockdown," Khan explains. "I had started making videos last year, but then I got busy with teaching orphan kids at an orphanage which I run so I had to drop that idea."

"But now since I am at home and with nothing to do, I have resurrected the idea of making these explanatory videos, which is my passion."

Though Khan is based in Patna, he had come to Deoria in Uttar Pradesh to meet his friends and family for the Holi holidays and has been stuck in the town since the lockdown kicked in late March.

I am a one-man show. My only regret is that my videos are of a little poor quality as I am technology challenged. I also need a video editor because it is consuming a lot of my time in completing the video," says 'Khan Sir'.

Khan Sir's videos explain anything that is happening in current affairs which he attributes to his deep knowledge of various subjects, which he credits his late grandfather, Iqbal Ahmed Khan, for.

My grandfather used to tell me that my only aim should be to gain knowledge, which I did, and therefore I can explain everything so easily in videos," he adds.

"He used to tell me that a soldier on the border knows only to shoot his enemy. Be it a Pakistani or Chinese enemy, he has to shoot. Once he is trained to fire, he will fire. In the same way, I should be a soldier of knowledge and therefore I am so good at it," says 'Khan Sir'.

'Khan Sir' completed his Class 10 education at an English medium school after which he switched over to Hindi medium and did his graduation in science -- before completing his MA in geography.

"Mixture ho gaya," 'Khan Sir' laughs.

But in retrospect, he says it is good because at the age of 25 he has become an excellent teacher, which helps competitive exam aspirants.

Why does he not try his hand at the Union Public Service Commission exams and become an IAS officer since his knowledge is so envious?

The road and teacher stand still, they make others reach their destination. It is like if a lamp (chirag) itself wants to stay in light, then who will stay in darkness?"

"And I like this profession because teaching is the only profession which teaches every other profession. Be it an engineer, doctor or even journalism students, everyone needs a teacher. And, I am happy doing it,"? he says.

In June 2020, Khan Sir's YouTube channel had one lakh subscribers which has now jumped to 14 lakh subscribers.

Did he not feel he was a little late in entering the profession as already there are so many people who make videos and put them out for the public to lap up?

My life mantra is: Be last, but be fast. Look at Baba Ramdev. He was the last one to join the race of selling Ayurveda products. Hamdard and other Ayurvedic companies were already selling these products, but it was Baba Ramdev who won the race."

"The same is the case with Reliance Jio. They too were the last ones to enter the telecom sector and they too beat all others," offers Khan by way of explanation.

A Hindi television news channel has approached him to post his videos on its platform and talks about this are going on.

'Khan Sir' says he earns good enough money thanks to YouTube.

"My aim in life is to earn lots of money and distribute this money to orphanages where I am working," says "Khan Sir'.

On the personal front Khan is cagey about sharing any information except the fact that he is engaged and his father works as a contractor.

And what does it take to become what he has?

"Madness and eagerness," says Khan.

"One has to have passion and the madness to perfect your art. If you don't have it, don't come."

"When I started this, I never thought I would become famous and till this day I don't know why people love my videos."

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SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF / Rediff.com
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