Harun robert aka Rob's get candid about his journey from the television to the web and his new show 'Imagine That'
Words: Danica D’Souza
Harun Robert’s the one who taught us as kids to reuse waste and create something brand new. Harun became a popular face through his superhit series MAD on POGO where he taught kids to make creative things from the materials available at home. Harun began his journey from the TV and after a very successful show he started his own YouTube channel. However he is now back to the television with Disney India’s new show ‘Imagine That’.
Harun had an exceptionally insightful chat with Deception Magazine wherein he discussed some wonderful insights into his journey.
You gained popularity after your 1st show (MAD) which is not very common, tell us how did that feel?
It felt awesome! Who am I Kidding, it was pretty overwhelming actually. Back then there wasn’t any art based television show atleast not in this format. Everything was conceptualized from scratch and I was lucky to be a part of the planning team right from inception. Also I being a Designer and having studied art helped me quite a bit in creating the content for the show. The channel went on to create over 100’s of episodes of the series mainly because of the response it received.I now feel lucky and blessed to have been a part of this show, which helped me launch my career.
Tell us about your childhood where you always inclined towards arts and craft?
Yes I was always a curious and imaginative kid but honestly I never thought I would have been able to make a career out of art back then. It felt more like a hobby and something fun to do. I used to not just draw all the time but I was also fond of building and creating things with stuff lying at home be it race tracks for my toy cars to creating my own superhero comic books to even creating my own version of the statue of Liberty at age 9. I was the hero in my neighborhood and even amongst my cousins as I used to be the one completing all their art homework, some of which they have even won prizes for.
MAD ended 10 years back how have things changed for you since then?
The last 10 years have been great. There has been a lot of learning and I am still learning.
After Pogo, I decided to give television a break and create content for digital as YouTube back then was a medium that was gaining popularity and was growing exponentially. I started the channel with a handful of subscribers and in a year I only grew to 1500 subscribers, which was pretty disappointing. I initially thought that my popularity on television would automatically translate to digital but it didn’t. I had to unlearn to learn how the digital medium actually worked.
I feel I am in a great place now on YouTube as well as Facebook and Instagram. My internet family is a little over 2 million fans and we are still growing. It took me a while to get a grasp of things and I can now say that I do understand the medium pretty well and I am constantly learning. Having said that my content on my digital platforms is constantly evolving as I learn. I tend to focus on trending topics to keep my audience engaged. Also with digital being such an interactive platform I do receive a lot of feedback from my fans and I try and incorporate their ideas as much as possible in my videos.
Lucky for me, Disney reached out to me to create an upcycling themed art show ‘Imagine That’. So that is something I am currently working on as well. It feels great to be present on both mediums now, Digital as well as Television.
What do you have to say about people taking the creative road during the lockdown?
I think the lockdown has been tremendously tough for everyone, and keeping oneself occupied creatively has made a huge positive impact on most people. It’s basically focusing your energies on doing something worthwhile. Something you feel proud to have made which brings you nothing but satisfaction at the end of the day. It helps revive stress and anxiety that could develop having to spend most of your time at home practically locked up.
I myself was involved in conducting Live sessions, webinars and online workshops to teach families and kids at home how to create cool art from simple everyday stuff lying around the house using material that they did not have to buy but was readily available at home.
Credits:- Harun Robert
Most of your videos focus on upcycling, can you enlighten our readers about it?
This is something I’ve always been stressing on for many years. It’s the need of the hour and the only way we can save our planet. There is no better way than to find a creative use for all the stuff that we don’t need. It’s so important that we educate our youth early and get them to be more responsible. Honestly speaking there is nothing really called waste, it’s all a matter of how we look at it! More so if we start to look at the trash as material from which you can create new things it will help stimulate fresh ideas, and also boost imagination and creativity.
Tell us about your new show ‘Imagine That’
I was very happy when Disney Channel approached me to work on their new Art show. The show focuses mainly on upcycling which is something I’ve always stood for. Having said that, apart from upcycling which is the USP of the show the concept is pretty futuristic where kids can send me video requests / art challenges and they speak to me through a hologram which is the PINGER segment of the show. There is also a robot called the TRASHPORTER who throws me the trash that I need to work with and there is a TASKMASTER which is basically an upcycled slot machine that throws challenges at me all the time. It’s a fun and entertaining show that will pique your imagination.I hope you’ve watched it. It’s on the Disney Channel every Sunday morning at 9.30am..
If not an artist, what would you rather be doing?
Well I was studying to be a doctor but if not that I could have been a dancer, choreographer or a magician maybe. I love Magic and I had a chance to even host a kid’s Magic show on POGO
Do you think you brought ‘the DIY’ concept to India?
I wish I could take credit and say yes but unfortunately it’s a NO. People have always been recycling and upcycling things and have also been creating art with it. It’s a concept that comes naturally to a lot of people with a creative bend of mind. Especially in our culture, we have seen dadi’s, nani’s and moms who are great with DIY jugaad be it in the kitchen or their sewing boxes.
I think what I might have done is elevate the basic concept of DIY and layer it with fresh ideas, pushing audiences to see things in a way that they could have never imagined possible and I’ve managed to grab the attention of kids early on and introduced them to this concept by nurturing their natural curiosity and promoting creative thinking.
How important you think it is to involve young minds in creative activities?
It is an absolute must. Everyone who has children or has worked with children knows that creative activities are what kids enjoy the most. It is proven that activities such as drawing, doodling, coloring and painting help in development of motor and neural skills, and enhance problem-solving abilities in young minds.
Also, involving kids in creative activities helps them develop qualities like patience, concentration, focus but I think the best part is the joy and sense of achievement that an individual derives just from the knowledge of having made something. Having created something from scratch is extremely gratifying and a reason enough to keep wanting to be more and more creative. And I always say creative people are great problem solvers, great communicators and great storytellers. I sincerely hope that all parents encourage their kids to be creative! It’s important to start them young…
Your favorite artwork till date?
I created an installation portrait of everyone’s favorite cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, using only cricket gear. I really loved this piece of work from concept to completion.
One thing you dislike about your job
The pressure to constantly put out a new piece of art everyday (particularly online)
What superpower you wish you had and why?
Teleport… I wish I could teleport myself to a deserted beach away from coronavirus.
2 artists you would love to collaborate with?
Banksy and Michel Gondry