Ankush Bahuguna, Indian beauty content creator Image: Madhu Kapparath
Ankush Bahuguna grew up feeling constantly judged and bullied about the way he looked. Today, the same kid who was introverted and socially awkward entertains over a million people on Instagram. The 30-year-old started making content at a time when the creator economy in India was just picking up.
Bahuguna studied architecture at the Sushant School of Art and Architecture in Gurugram. But from the first month of joining college, he knew it was not for him. Though he finished the course, immediately after graduating he joined the lifestyle brand MensXP as a writer and eventually started creating videos. The journey of content creation began shortly after, and there has been no looking back since then.
After writing scripts for comedy videos and screenplays for short films, he started appearing in them as an actor. Three years down the line, Bahuguna realised he had enough skills to become a creator. He then decided to build his own community instead of working for a brand or a publication. Over the years, he has managed to build a strong follower base with his relatable content. People started enjoying his funny videos, but he admits that holding on to his followers is not easy.
Most of the creators in this industry face the challenge of a short attention span. After a point, it’s difficult to hold on to people, Bahuguna explains. “I’m growing up. They’re also growing up. Most people, when they grow up, leave the internet because this space is intrinsically designed for younger people. Holding on to your audience and keeping acquiring new ones is necessary because the majority of them will always be young people.”
One day during the Covid-19 pandemic, he uploaded a video that would take his followers by surprise. Bahuguna was usually seen posting humorous videos, but this time he posted a video in which he was seen applying make-up. “I randomly uploaded a make-up video talking about why people judge men for wearing make-up. It really blew up, and the numbers were very impressive. I felt accepted because there was trolling and hate, but there was so much positivity. When I switched from comedy to make-up, my audience was surprised, but not shocked.” Also see: Digital Stars 2023 List
The support and love from his fans helped him transition and explore a new genre. Bahuguna believes it’s important to diversify because as quickly as the audience gets impressed by creators, they also get bored at the same speed. He was still in denial about this switch, but eventually accepted the change. After creating comedy content for almost six years, his newfound love made him become a beauty content creator. Without having any professional make-up skills, he started experimenting on his mother and other co-creators like Shibani Bedi and Dolly Singh, among others.
This led him to become the first Indian beauty creator to have his own YouTube show, Wing It With Ankush, which was sponsored by Lakmé. He invited famous personalities and influencers like actor Sheeba Chadha and Kusha Kapila on his show to give them a makeover. Apart from his own page, where he mostly posts funny videos, he has a separate page where he puts up make-up tutorial videos. The page name, which is the same as the talk show, has over 5 lakh followers. Although he calls himself “not a professional make-up artist” in his bio, his eye make-up game is on point. In 2021, Bahuguna was the only male creator on board as the brand ambassador for make-up brand MAC foundation alongside actor Bhumi Pednekar and other influencers.
“I’ve seen him go through all the transitions very smoothly, and he’s evolved beautifully,” says content creator and actor Dolly Singh, who has known Bahuguna for six years. “The content world is ever-changing. Some things work today, on other days they don’t, and you have to be on your toes all the time. I personally find it overwhelming a lot of the time. But I’ve seen Ankush ace it. He’s very open to changes, which is amazing as an artiste.” Bahuguna became the first Indian beauty creator to have his own YouTube show and in 2021 was also the only male creator on board as the brand ambassador for MAC foundation
In the crowded space of content creators and influencers where many struggle to establish themselves in just one area, Bahuguna not only stands out but excels in multiple roles, says Harsh Pamnani, brand expert and author of Booming Digital Stars. “He has reinvented himself numerous times, transitioning from an architecture graduate to a skilled writer, a talented actor, a fashion model, and a charming host on The Gentleman Show.”
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The Jack of all trades now wants to fulfil his dream of becoming an actor. Bahuguna, who hails from Delhi, recently moved to Mumbai and has joined an acting workshop.
He has been auditioning for eight years, but is yet to get a big break. The inspiration to get into this field came from his mother, who is a regional actor and has also featured in web series like Tandav
and Paatal Lok
. Even Bahuguna featured in a short film called Badboli Bhavna
, which was released last year on Amazon Mini.
Bahuguna admits that being a content creator has helped him try out different things, become more aware, and also become more accepting of himself, which is what his fans truly like. However, staying afloat in the game is crucial. Getting used to online validation can be easy, and it could really mess up mental health, he says.
“Honestly, I still don’t know how to overcome this. It’s a problem everyone in our generation faces. I know I struggle with it every now and then. But I guess, on bad days, I look back and see how far I’ve come, and it’s like a hug to the younger me.”
(This story appears in the 03 November, 2023 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)