During the pandemic-induced lockdown, one of the ways people sought out entertainment was by listening to podcasts. They were all ears to listen to conversations because it felt close to the pre-Covid experience more than ever. Believe it or not, Malayalis, too, have hopped on to this bandwagon, not only to listen to podcasts but also to make their own. It’s a cultural revolution that’s just getting started. Banking on the podcasting fervour, two best friends – Sameer Roshan and Zayaan Zakir – decided to kickstart their own Malayalam podcast called After Hours Malayalis.
After Hours Malayalis is a Malayalam podcast channel that explores the countless experiences and wacky thoughts of Sameer Roshan and Zayaan Zakir. Right from ‘Should Oommen Chandy start a YouTube channel?’ to ‘Weirdest Phobias’, these boys make sure to get hooked with each episode.
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Born and raised in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, they have been best friends for over six years now. They completed High School together and had to split ways to pursue their future. But they always kept in touch. Sameer (21) is currently pursuing BCom at EMEA College in Kerala, India. Whereas, Zayaan (20) is chasing his explorer dreams in Canada. He believes that living life in one place is like looking at the world through a keyhole. “If life was meant to be lived in one place, we’d all be born as tress,” Zayaan Zakir shared.
Once they shifted base, they were hit with waves of culture shock. They would both confide in each other about their experiences and talk for long hours about everything under the sun. These ‘after hours’ conversations that kept them connected was their light-bulb moment to start After Hours Malayalis.
Sameer shared, “During the pandemic, Zayaan resorted to podcasts as a way to reduce his screen time and fell in love with the comedy podcast Views from David Dobrik (one of the biggest YouTube creators). He realised that he had volumes of stories and experiences to share due to his exposure to different cultures giving him an interesting POV. Zayaan also thought of it as an outlet to make his biggest bucket list item to be a content creator and interviewer into a reality. He approached me with the idea of starting a Malayalam podcast and, without thinking twice, I was in. Do note that I said ‘Yes’ even when I hadn’t had the slightest clue of what a podcast even was.”
The episode that holds a special place in their hearts is their pilot episode – “Can Two Best Friends Start A Podcast?” Zayaan shared, “This episode kicked off our journey. We were very limited in terms of resources to record virtually and lacked the necessary skills to edit the audio. It took us a short while to be less awkward and more natural. The first episode was our introduction to our new audience. The podcast is our child. The fruit of our labour. It’s our everything.”
That said, one of the episodes they still laugh about is their “Untold McDonald’s Experience”, where Zayaan talks about his experiences working as a part-time employee at McDonald’s. Sameer shared, “It’s our favourite because Zayaan was able to take a tragedy from life and turn it into comedy. That’s the power of being a content creator.”
Being NRIs, they’ve had to navigate their identity at every place they’ve been to. It’s easily stereotyped that NRI Malayalis don’t necessarily understand the true Malayali culture. But, both of them beg to differ. Rather, they’d like to believe that they are as much a Malayali as someone born and raised in Kerala. They attribute much of their understanding of their culture and roots to the Indian School in Saudi Arabia, where they both studied. They proudly shared, “We can speak, read and write Malayalam. We watch Malayalam movies, listen to Malayalam music and eat Kerala’s traditional food for lunch. However, there’s more to us than our Malayali side. As a result of globalisation, we’re citizens of the world with multi-identities not defined by boundaries. So if anything, we’ve had the best of both worlds.”
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More than prepping for a Malayalam podcast, they rely on their observations through a podcaster’s lens to create an episode. The duo treats each episode as a conversation, just like how they would converse during their calls. They confidently stated, “We’ve barely scratched the surface and everyone’s only seen the tip of the iceberg.” As such, they hope to be one of the top podcasts in India. Their aim is to create high production quality content and bring on the biggest names in Kerala to the show as guests. They also hope to add more verticals like introducing merchandise, Live Podcast tours all over the world, digital products, an online creator course, community building and much more.