Young tribal Isak Munda’s rise to fame as a YouTuber blogger from Babupali in the Jujumura area of Sambalpur district made him an inspiration to all of western Odisha. Munda, who was once a day laborer, made his way after watching a few YouTube videos on his friend’s cell phone during the 2020 lockdown when work ran dry for him. Inspired by these bloggers, he decided to make a video of himself and quickly took out a loan of Rs 3000 to record himself eating a plate full of boiled rice without enough curry. Within hours of uploading the video to YouTube, there were thousands of views and comments, almost all of them rave, and it just kept growing. The growing popularity of this video prompted him to upload video after video to his YouTube channel, “Isak Munda Eating,” garnering high views. Within months, Isak Munda started earning thousands of rupees from his YouTube videos and quit looking for daily paid work.
“I had taken out a loan of Rs 3,000 to buy my first small smartphone to make videos. My first video was viewed by over 4.99 lakhs. I make videos about life in my poor household and village, showing what and how we eat. I am happy that my videos are received so well by many. I earn a decent income now, ”said Munda, 35.
In June 2020, three months after posting his first video on YouTube, Isak Munda had received 37,000 rupees in his bank account, he said. Then, three months later, he got Rs 5 lakh. “It keeps happening,” he said.
Munda, who speaks Hindi and Sambapuri, the western dialect of Odia, usually posts videos about the serene village life and the eating habits of the poor who live there. Since March 2020, Munda has uploaded nearly 256 videos and his YouTube channel currently has over 7.29 lakh of subscribers.
His first video was titled “Rice and Indian Sambar Fast Eating”. In this four-minute video, Munda was in a waistcoat and eating a plate full of hot boiled rice with raw tomato, fried green leaves, a raw chili and just a little dal. The sight of poor tribal youth in Odisha eating simple food somehow struck a chord among viewers. His subsequent videos often featured his wife, Sabita Munda, and their four daughters – Monisa, Monica and Mahima – and their son Pabitra. The videos usually showcase the traditions and food preparation methods of her community.
“I only studied up to the seventh grade. So, I thought I could do some videos about my own community, culture and way of life in my village. I also show how we harvest wild mushrooms and eat bamboo shoots so that people in India and abroad experience the simple life we lead, ”Munda said.
His wife, Sabita Munda, is very happy with her success on YouTube. “He once uploaded a video of the dirt house we live in. Many people watched it and it gave us financial support from an organization in Bhubaneswar to build a brick and cement house, ”she said with a smile.
“Isak is constantly making videos about our local tribal traditions. He also made a video of me weaving a rug out of date palm leaves. People love to see all of his videos. They discover our traditions and our culture. So he earns money, ”said Isak’s father-in-law, Joseph Munda.
Isak is clear that just making money from his YouTube videos is not his goal. “I want to make people aware of our local traditions and also the negative influences that he fights against. I am happy that I am no longer looking for daily work as a worker, ”he said.
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