From off-road driving in the white desert of Kutch, riding horses in mist in the Panchgani Hills, experiencing the thrill of snow riding in Arunachal, enjoying local Assamese food, and meeting soldiers on the Indo-Pakistan border, Muhammad Salim Khan loves to explore his ‘Hindustan’ on his bike.
With over 1,000 lifestyle and travel vlogs covering various destinations across the country, the 30-year-old Mumbai-based content creator has earned the fandom of over 1.7 million people on YouTube.
His latest adventure was watching the Ramadan celebrations at the famous Jama Masjid in New Delhi. Prior to this, he traveled nearly 1,300 km to Mathura to celebrate Holi.
In a fun conversation with best india, He says, “I feel free when I am riding a bicycle. I record everything that happens in my life. Be it my instant trip to Hyderabad to enjoy my biryani, going fishing in West Bengal, visiting Gurudwaras and Buddhist temples, or modifying sports bikes. I am known for these campaigns I keep my religion aside when I travel and then become an explorer.”
Our country is very beautiful. From Mumbai, I traveled by bicycle to Ladakh, Assam, Nagaland, Arunachal, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Kerala, Himachal, and many more places.” Salim has also traveled to Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal and Russia.
In order to convey the Indian heritage to millions of followers, Salem was also recognized as one of the 75 Young Cultural Brand Ambassadors for India by the Union Ministry of Culture under the auspices of 75 Years of Independence.
“It was a very big achievement for me. I have received many awards from private entities, but getting my work validated by the government was very special,” said Saleem, who has been listed as India’s top 100 digital stars by the magazine. Forbes and was awarded the ‘2020 StreamConAsia Vlogger of the Year’ award.
Freedom from the “dark life” of Dharavi
For Salem, his childhood was not as joyful as his vlogs. Born in a small village in Dakshin district of Dinajpur in West Bengal and brought up in Dharvi, Mumbai, which is considered one of the largest slums in the world, he never imagined to consider vlogging as a means of making a living.
Before embarking on creating video content, he did various odd jobs and businesses to support his family of three – his younger brother, his father who worked as a janitor, and his mother who worked as a housemaid. They lived in a small rented hut in Dharavi.
“My life was very dark in Dharavi. People there would get excited over even the smallest things. There would be arguments about the water supply. One day someone said nasty things to my mother and threatened to evict us. It really hurt me. I can’t forget that day. But I wanted to give An appropriate answer for those people with my work,” he recalls.
When he was 13 years old, he wanted to solve his family’s financial situation. So, learning has begun Torbay (Hemming) Working under a local tailor for 10 rupees a week.
My mother will work as a bye (maid) … She washed clothes and utensils and cleaned other people’s homes. I had many reasons to work at a young age. When I handed 10 rupees, my first income, to my mother, I was impressed. I continued to work until class 10 with my studies. From time to time I did small jobs like working as a waiter in a hotel.
Besides his studies and work, he played cricket as he aspired to play for the Indian cricket team. But he had to give up on that dream because he had injured his back while competing in school. To make ends meet, he continued to work, risking his education.
At the age of 16, Salem started an e-commerce business, selling fashion accessories online.
“In college, I heard about Flipkart and got motivated to become a seller. So, I started buying fashion accessories, leather bags, wallets, and shoes from the local market and started selling them online. Through this business, I earned enough and even bought a house at the age of 21 in a year. 2014,” says a BCom alumnus.
“When we entered our house in Mumbai, my mother was in tears. No matter how many bikes I buy today, no matter what I achieve in life, this feeling was amazing. Now, no one can ask her to vacate the house. She is the queen,” he smiles.
Today, Salim has managed to earn up to Rs 15 lakh per month through brand integration. But it is not a fixed amount. Sometimes I make less and sometimes I make more than this, he says.
Salem chose e-commerce because of a disability. He wanted to pursue his passion for acting.
“After cricket, the closest profession in my life was acting. When I joined the acting school, I got opportunities to do advertisements. In 2016, I won the Best Student Director Award at Nashik Film Festival for my short film man. But acting is a profession where you don’t get a regular job.
“While watching a movie, I was introduced to the concept of vlogging. I was fascinated by the work where I was writing about my daily activities. It helped me to write scripts for vlogs.”
In September 2016, Salem launched his channel “MSK Vlogs” to improve his personality as an actor, work on his fears of facing the camera, and improve his communication skills.
“But once I got into this profession, I started enjoying it more. Eventually, many brands started sponsoring my content, and I realized that it can be more than just a hobby.”
In 2019, he dedicated himself to creating informative, entertaining and informative video content through travel excursions.
“I never dreamed of vlogging or creating content for YouTube. I just happen to take a chance at every opportunity in my path. But now, I love my job. Every day of my life is new. When things are the same, I get bored, so I can’t do regular work.” The best part about my job is the freedom, and while I’m doing that, I’m able to make a living. I can even take time off any day I want!” Salem says.
Edited by Pranita Bhatt