Chaos, Comedy, and Composure

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The rise and rise of Raba Khan

Neha Shamim

The world we grew up in is long gone. In this digital realm where every scroll presents a new discovery, making it challenging to keep up with the pace of change. Raba Khan’s journey to digital fame showcases her creativity, resilience, and knack for connecting with her audience. Her content, known for its relatability and humor, resonates with millions, making her a popular figure on various social media platforms. What sets Raba apart is not just her comedic talent but also her ability to stay composed and authentic in the often chaotic digital world. 

Born in Australia and raised in Bangladesh, Raba Khan, a name that resonates with creativity and ingenuity in the digital realm, is a visionary content creator, singer, model, author, and influencer. Initially starting from her YouTube channel “The Jhakanaka Project” in 2014, Raba Khan, the young and profound soul, has aced her way in everything she has touched. 

Ever since 2014, Raba Khan and her brother Fahad Reza – who has been her ultimate support in content creation – have won many hearts; with a magnetic presence and a desire for story-telling, Raba possesses the rare ability to captivate audiences across various platforms, creating a huge fan base in her name. With her fast-growing audience beyond her digital persona, in 2018 Raba became a Youth Ambassador to advocate for children’s rights by UNICEF. She is a goodwill ambassador for ActionAid and has been a speaker at Harvard University webinars. She has also worked with the World Food Programme and was listed in Forbes under 30. Raba fearlessly navigated the ever-evolving landscape of social media, and with unmatched creativity and dedication to creating new content every time – resulting in her videos having hundreds and thousands of views. 

To get things started, can you tell us about how you got started as a content creator? 

I actually started not very intentionally in 2014 on YouTube. My brother and I had this camera at home that our father had gotten for us. We had a tripod as well and we said let’s makes videos. We used to watch a lot of international YouTubers back in the day, and thought to ourselves, why not make content? People around us will call us funny and people think we are interesting. Why not just start with comedy videos? Fahad also thought about merchandizing like other international YouTubers. That’s when the Jhakanaka Project came in. We didn’t want it to be just comedy videos. I also wanted to upload my singing covers. We left it open for a variety of content.

What are some hobbies or interests you enjoy outside of your content creation work?

Apart from cooking, I am a big-time dancer. Ever since I learned, I’ve been dancing. It’s something I do every day, and I have hundreds of drafts of all the trending dances, which I haven’t even uploaded yet, because it’s so personal. I might upload it someday in the future, but for now, it’s a passion I don’t put online. 

What does success mean to you personally beyond achievement in your career? 

I think success is when you are truly happy. I feel like happiness is being truly satisfied with yourself, with your surroundings, with what you have done till now and not having regrets. To not have these regrets and be able to protect your mental health, to get rid of toxic people around you, that is what success is. Academic success, or work success may or may not happen, and is usually not in your hands. Personal growth is so much more important and it can easily be synonymous with success. 

Through this journey, we as an audience have seen Fahad has been your support. Can you tell us about the bond you share with your brother? 

When we started making videos, he was always on screen. Later he realized that this is not something that he wants to do. He went behind the scenes. This is why people call it “support,” but for us it’s more like a collaboration or partnership. I’m creating content. He’s definitely managing the brands that I work with, managing my schedules. He makes it easy for me to work. 

What inspired you to start making videos and how do you come up with ideas? 

Before I started [videos], I used to just write things down for Facebook posts. I was also on a platform called Ask FM, which was this anonymous question and answer platform where people could just ask you questions and I used to come up with funny answers and this got a lot of positive reactions.

I used to write down ideas for content for Ask FM and Facebook posts on my phone notes app. Funny things or issues I wanted to talk about. 

It was Fahad who pointed out that I could be doing skits the way Lilly Singh does. Initially, I thought I was more “text funny” and wouldn’t be able to translate that into visual expressions. But my brother reminded me that I have been doing impressions since I was a kid. So eventually, I started the skits and now it’s been exactly 10 years of making videos. 

My brand of comedy is mostly observational comedy. I don’t think much about it. I observe people and if I find something funny, I pick that up and make it into content. Of course, I exaggerate it for effect. I’ve become a lot more relaxed about this than I was when I first started out. 

I used to really care about the views and stuff before. Now I really just want to do stuff that I would want to watch. I’m not a big comedy watcher anymore. I like watching lifestyle videos, a lot of blogs, a lot of cooking videos, a lot of TikTok style videos. That’s what I make now. But obviously comedy is where I started. So that’s always going to be something that I do. 

How do you handle criticism or negative feedback on your content?

I take that very nicely, actually, because I like to fix whatever is actually wrong. Like, if it’s constructive, then I’ll take it. But if someone is out there making comments about my appearance, or trying to bully me, I don’t take it at all anymore. When I started out, I was very, very young. It took me some time to get my thick skin and to just let things go and to not really take it personally. Now, it really doesn’t bother me. But constructive criticism I really do encourage. I think that is the only thing I take. I try to use it in my content. I try to really listen to all the criticism. 

4 Things Raba Khan is obsessed about: 

First of all, Bollywood, since childhood. Second would be cooking, and I’ve already talked about my passion for dancing. I am also obsessed with my family.

Women in the content creation industry face negative comments. How do you balance your mental health during those, and what do you want to say to the women who aspire to be content creators? 

It is a huge platform; it’s a really easy way for people to come up now, because you don’t need anybody to come online and make a video, you can just do it on your own. When I was starting out, we didn’t used to have the kind of Internet safety guidance we do now, but even now, Internet safety is only limited to security codes and blocking options. We don’t really talk about how difficult it is to digest a lot of the things people say to you and just not take it personally. There should be a class where they teach you to balance that a lot of people are going to say the nicest things and a lot of people will say such mean things where you start questioning everything about yourself. At that point it just becomes very personal.  

To the other female content creators, I would say when you come to this industry or are thinking about making videos, you need to kind of prepare yourself. This is something that will happen to you, it is truly inevitable. The main part is not to take this personally, in the sense that whenever people say something to you, be self-aware to understand what criticism is actually constructive. I got a lot of early criticism about my editing, which made me focus on teaching myself how to edit, and it definitely improved. 

What are you passionate about? 

I think fashion, glam, skincare. Makeup is something I’ve always been passionate about. I mean, I’m passionate about it. Truly.

Since I was a kid, I used to style myself. I was that baby. I used to design my own dresses, I used to design jewelry. I think it has come because my parents were always encouraging. My Ammu used to encourage me to draw jewelry designs, and let me pick the stones since I was very little, and she’d have the jewelry made for me. My parents have been very, very supportive, especially in extracurricular activities. 

I was a very good student, and I think a lot of this is because my parents didn’t give me any pressure. I genuinely want to learn because I did not feel pressured to. 

Also, my dad has been incredible. He’s just a great guy, you know? Yeah. And if you’re just a great guy, your kids are going to see you being a great guy. But I always say that, you know, there are a lot of things that are just privileges in life. Like, I feel like I’m extremely privileged in that sector.

You’ve been featured in Forbes’ 30 under 30 Asia list, marketing and advertising category, been UNICEF Youth Ambassador, and have also worked to advocate children’s rights. As you have done so much in this short period of time, how do you stay organized and manage your time as a content creator? 

The Forbes 30 under 30 thing is something that I was on a list so that doesn’t take a lot of my time, and UNICEF, they really let me know beforehand so that’s very easy to manage. The content creation part and creating content for brands and the media marketing part comes into play, most of my day goes into that. I feel like now because it’s been so many years it’s very easy for me, very naturally, to organize the time. 

Tell us about your upcoming projects? 

For my upcoming projects, I want to focus a little bit more on songs and coming up with covers. So that is something that I want to do. There’s a lot of stuff that I am actually doing right now because I feel like in my core, I’m a writer. I’ve always written. Even the jokes that I’ve done in my videos and even the videos I make, all the scripts are written by me. 

I wrote a book. I actually wrote a book. I released a lot of short stories in many ways and statuses and everything. I think writing is always going to be something that I’m passionate about. I think the platform might change. Like I am writing for TV and I’m also writing for film now for a web series. So hopefully when that comes into life … probably something I can share. 

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