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One can almost imagine Jaby’s face and hear the excited amazement in his voice while reading the aforementioned phrase that he is often caught saying. A vibrant YouTube personality with an enthusiastic approach to cinema, Jaby Koay has been gaining some serious attention for a while now.
Based in the United States, this online figure is widely known for his instinctively honest reactions and reviews to creative content emerging from India on his YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwV_A5L1hhEVfld6Wbxn3jg. There's no turning back after clicking on this link!
With a hoard of western online personalities critiquing Bollywood, feeding off of stereotypes, derogatory prejudices and mocking laughter; Jaby’s remarks are anything but a jab in our creative gut and bring forth a welcome change. Devoted to giving critical commentary to Indian cinema while also being exceedingly respectful to the culture of a land he is not familiar with, this YouTuber is doing something right. While one is constantly judging why they like being “reviewed” and lauded by the First world, showing the importance of validation needed on a global platform, it is also simple to gauge that Indian films are reaching more audiences than it imagined to target or reach out to. A YouTuber like Jaby Koay, with his elaborately animated facial expressions and amazement at the diversity that Indian cinema has to offer, is, more often than not, responsibly uninhibited in his humour and criticism.
Here’s how it works- a decent background, some visiting guests who watch with him, an Indian companion Moumita or Akeira behind the scenes (helping with comprehension) and lots of good laughs and insightful conversations. Taking requests from his friends and collaborators Moumita and Akeira as well as his viewers, he reviews a range of genres from the “massy” cinema and the “arthouse” productions to regional films and web series. Jaby Koay and his guests show no restraint in welcoming a cinematic culture which is known for its uniqueness. His videos usually start off with watching trailers without subtitles- an attempt leading to some crazy slip-ups in comprehension or just stomach clenching hilarity because of the same. Here are some reactions/ reviews you must not miss- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQbXNWJqurw&t=229s; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RHkjzpstHs&t=252s
Disclaimer: The pronunciation mistakes are what most of his Indian viewers live for, mostly due to the concentration on his face and sincere attempts to not mess up. And that usually never works. So, get ready for some “Daak daak daak daadoo” (Dil Dhadakne Do) in passing in conversations coupled with some “Swadeez” (Swades).
Oh, and he can occasionally be seen dropping dead at the mention of Priyanka Chopra’s name.
In his May 2017 interview with DigiKarma (http://www.digi-karma.com/2017/05/27/sacrifice-let-go-present-interview-jaby-koay/ )Jaby spoke about his approach to a language he does not understand and this is what he had to share:
"Some things are just universal. Love, hate, passion, frustration, trying to improve relationships. All these are human themes, irrespective of race, nation, age or religion. These themes can be easily understood and can be communicated without words or in my case, without the understanding of those words. I am a very visual person being a director and I feed off that when I’m watching a trailer. That is what hooked me initially to Indian cinema – the beauty & cinematography of Indian films.
For me, it is fun to figure out what’s going on without knowing a language and just trying to understand the content from visual, physical nuances that people portray – how they are interacting with each other & what is being shown. It is obvious there are things I am going to miss out on like cultural references, but I don’t think that makes my opinion any less valuable.
What’s interesting for me is to have that outsider opinion without the cultural references, without the pre-conceived notions that are usually innate for any Indian viewer. I do my best to approach it with a positive interest and try to interpret what’s going on. If there are no subtitles to help me out, if I can’t get it for the life of me or if I am completely lost then I do some reading on that to piece it together. It’s like a puzzle."
With a mindful and open approach, tossed around with some good humour and meaningful interactions through video calls with actors from the Indian filmmaking industry, Jaby has found himself amidst an audience that is culturally interspersed. It is also interesting to note how it changes one’s perspective to home-bred cinema- how the movies that we, as Indians perceive to be mediocre, might actually come across as groundbreaking and even more progressive to people sitting and watching at the other end of the world. Indian cinema, with its multiplicity of genres and original scripts, multidimensional characters and phenomenal actors is gaining strong recognition globally through the Internet. With the kind of cautious interaction with cultures of India that Jaby Koay portrays, cinema world over does stand a chance to be explored and critiqued with a lens that does not fall into the trap of mere westernized perceptions.
Jaby Koay also works on some of his own films and has designated channels reacting to creative content from other parts of the world too.
Link to Jaby Koay’s website: http://jabykoay.com/
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