Two Hamiltonians of Indian descent are making waves with their comedy videos on YouTube and Facebook. Reneel Singh and Rajneel Naickar, popularly known as Ren and Raj, are students of law at Waikato University and are using their sense of humour to entertain a bigger crowd via social media.
Reneel Singh frantically laughs in his recorded voicemail, an invitation that the caller is going for a crazy ride talking to him. The duo’s fun-loving nature has garnered them a fan base that is growing exponentially in New Zealand and Fiji. In a conversation with Indian Weekender, Ren and Raj talk about what motivated them to start producing videos.
IWK: Tell us a little about Reneel and Rajneel.
R&R: We are of Indian descent, born and brought up in New Zealand. We love acting, directing, making stories, and all other forms of entertainment. We were both studying business management and law at Waikato University when one day we decided to give in to our passion and decided to create Ren and Raj.
IWK: What kind of videos/vines do you make?
R&R: We make short funny videos. Some of the videos we have created include funny, relatable scenarios depicting parents, friends, social media habits, Bollywood parodies, and even our take on Diwali. Some of our more popular videos show us using funny ways to get out of arranged marriages, and how parents can react when their kids are not home on time.
IWK: When did you start making these videos?
R&R: We started playing around with the camera back in 2012 and created several random projects. In August this year, we got a little more serious about our work and started working on social media. At that point, we decided it was time to start pushing the limits to see how far we can go with the videos, and now, we make and release at least one video every week.
IWK: Do you take any help in making and compiling the videos?
R&R: No, we are the directors, editors, actors, and even the camera crew for our videos. We place the camera on a tripod and press record, walk in front, and do our thing. There have even been occasions where we have been holding the lighting equipment while acting.
It is challenging doing everything, so occasionally we drag our friend Nivikesh Krishna in to help us shoot when the shot requires movement.
IWK: What is the USP for your videos?
R&R: We often refer to ourselves as the two idiots with a camera. Neither do we have much equipment nor do we have a large crew. This is evident in our videos, and it is this quality that helps us create unique, relatable, and funny videos for the ordinary Westernised Indian. When you watch a Ren and Raj video, it will always be a fresh new concept. We also speak in English to ensure that everybody understands.
IWK: How many subscribers do you have?
R&R: We currently have 200+ subscribers on YouTube and 7,485 Facebook page likes. In the last few months, we have seen a massive increase in the number of people watching our videos, with one of our videos reaching 50k views on Facebook alone. So that encourages us and keeps us on our toes.
IWK: Where do you get ideas/inspirations for your videos?
R&R: Our inspiration comes from Indian people and Indian families. We get our ideas from the various situations and scenarios that take place in every Indian household. The ideas, however, can strike anytime. There have even been times when we are simply sitting and talking with friends, and an idea will pop into our heads. Our friends often think we are quite odd when midway through a conversation we start frantically typing a video idea on our phone (so that we don’t forget).
IWK: Where do you shoot it and how? (On mobile device, camera, etc.)
R&R: We try to shoot on different locations but majority of our filming is done at our house. Funnily enough, we don’t own a camera and have borrowed a DSLR camera from my (Ren’s) brother.
IWK: What is your goal/aim going forward with video making?
R&R: At this stage, we are looking to extend our friendship with the world. We love making people feel happy and special, and so far, the feedback we have received has been positive. Our long-term goal is to create a community both online and in person where people can feel special and included. At this stage, however, we are simply looking to impact people one video at a time positively.
IWK: There are hundreds of groups making YouTube/FB videos (overseas). Any group/artiste you can relate your videos to?
R&R: We have drawn our inspiration from Superwoman (Lily Singh from Canada), JusReign and Zaid Ali’s videos. It’s about finding humour in day-to-day conversations. We feel like we are catering to a similar audience but still we make sure that our content is always original.
IWK: What kind of response have you had from your fans? Do you look forward to changing the genre or go bigger?
R&R: The response has been great. We have had several personal messages on Facebook and have met people on the streets too. We are even planning to meet a fan who loves our work. He came from Fiji and is in New Zealand for a short time, so we are likely to be meeting him by the end of the week.
Although we create all sorts of different videos, friendship and happiness is the concept that we want to share with as many people as possible. We are therefore looking to go as big as humanly possible and spread our videos with the world.
IWK: Anything else that you would like to share with our readers?
R&R: If you’re ever feeling down or are looking to put yourself in a good mood, our videos are for you. Go and check out our YouTube or our Facebook Page. Our videos are sure to cheer you up and leave you feeling positive.
Our YouTube: Youtube.com/renandraj
Our Facebook: facebook.com/RenandRaj