While watching videos on Facebook, I came across a couple where the husband and wife can be seen complementing one another. Later, he asks her out on a walk to which she furiously replies, "Do you think I am getting fat?"
Then, the husband offers to stay home which leads his wife to say, "So, now you think I am lazy?" From that point onwards, no matter what he says to please his partner, it falls short.
Though the video may seem scripted, its creators – Shehwar and Maria, claim that it depicts a part of their day-to-day life, just like the rest of their videos on social media platforms.
Amid the lockdown, this London-based Bangladeshi-Romanian vloggers couple turned tables on Covid-19 and began documenting their daily life for subscribers and followers on YouTube and Facebook.
The audience response was overwhelming – within 10 months, they accumulated over a million followers on Facebook and 412,000 subscribers on YouTube. Shehwar and Maria started vlogging in 2020 - creating travel, food, and lifestyle content.
From exploring new places and cuisines every weekend, the duo has been homebound creating videos of their lockdown life ever since the influx of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In an interview with The Business Standard, Shehwar and Maria shared their content-creating experience.
How it all started
Shehwar's passion for photography and videography grew from a very early age. He would often make videos on occasions and upload them on Facebook or Instagram for friends and family.
Shehwar and Maria's initial plan was to portray their travel, food, and lifestyle experience for the audience. Being avid travellers, the duo wanted to create quality content for viewers in Bangla to reach an audience in Bangladesh.
"Once the pandemic hit, we thought of taking a break from vlogging, but the audience wanted to see a part of our indoor lives as well. Thus, we started making short videos on whatever we would do every day and they were very well received!" said Shehwar.
When asked what attracts people the most to their videos, Maria said, "I think it is my shami's (husband's) charm and his shuddho bhasha (pure language)." Shehwar, on the other hand, thinks them being an interracial couple drives a lot of curiosity among viewers.
"Also, I am sure our audience is really impressed by Maria's incredible ability to speak Bangla.. When we first met in 2017, she took an instant liking to the language and she is very passionate about it. I think it comes across in the videos," said Shehwar.
"But I would say the most important thing that attracts the audience is the fact that our videos are very genuine. Our videos depict our life as it is," he added.
Maria's fascination for languages
As we dove deep into the interview, we got to know that Bangla is not the only language Maria picked up. She has a very keen interest in languages and speaks five languages.
When asked how she managed to learn Bangla so quickly, Maria said, "Obviously, I have a great teacher! If not a teacher, a great muse. I would hear Shehwar talking to his family members in Bangla and later ask the meaning of words. That is how I started picking up words and later turning them into sentences."
In fact, the desire to learn new languages inspires Maria to travel. She is very passionate about the traditions, cultures, and food this world has to offer. "It is nice to see how people divided by borders all over the world are different and yet similar," said Maria.
Shehwar, on the other hand, is a natural extrovert and loves exploring new places and making friends. He said, "I grew up in Bangladesh and my dad was in the military so we would move a lot. I loved that feeling of going from one place to another and the desire seems to have been ever-growing."
The duo's favourite travel destination and cuisines
The duo might have similar influences behind travelling however, when it comes to picking the most favourite destination, their choices are poles apart. Maria's most favourite place in the world is Venice. "It is purely magical. If you have not been there, you have to go! And if you have, you know why it is magical," she said.
As for Shehwar, "Santorini trumps Venice on any given day. It is the most beautiful place in the world. It has the ancient mythical island of the lost Atlantis and the greatest sunset in the world. Nothing comes close to this!"
While Shehwar is firm on Santorini being his most admired destination, when it comes to the most favourite cuisine, he simply cannot choose.
"I love Spanish food, especially paella and tapas. I love sushi as well. I love Thai and of course, I love Bangladeshi food. I am very lucky to have my mum living here in the UK. On any given weekend, we can go to my mum's and she would make bhaat (rice), daal (lentil soup), alu bhorta (mashed potatoes) and I would have that," he said.
For Maria, the choice is not as difficult. "I like Italian food. I cannot eat spicy food. In terms of Bangladeshi food, fuchka is my favourite even though it is a snack and I also like biriyani but these have to be non-spicy," she said.
Apart from spicy food, there is nothing about Bangladesh and its culture that Maria does not like. She found many similarities between her culture and Shehwar's while they were getting to know each other.
"Our cultures are both big on traditions, our people are proud of their roots and heritage, and are huge food lovers. I love Bangladeshi people for being genuinely kind and compassionate, hard-working with an entrepreneurial mind, excellent hosts, and trustworthy," said Maria when asked of her thoughts on Bangladeshi culture.
Shehwar, too, was amazed by the fact that their countries are so far apart and yet have many cultural similarities. He said, "My favourite part of the Romanian culture is how the country is full of natural, architectural, and artistic treasures and how beautifully they have preserved everything!"
"It was fascinating to travel through Transylvania and come across medieval towns, beautiful little town squares, and stunning mountains. To visit the Dracula Castle after reading about it and watching movies about it on tv all my life was so special!" added Shehwar.
Over the past 10 months, Shehwar and Maria have been making short videos based on their daily lockdown lives, and the mind-blowing response received means a lot to this couple. "We are so grateful for the love and affection we have received. It is a lot more special because we were not expecting it," said Shehwar.
The duo plans to continue vlogging about their travelling experiences as soon as the situation comes to normal. "We want to pursue more travelling, lifestyle, and food reviews. We will definitely visit Bangladesh and Romania. Hopefully, we will meet some of our fans as well," said Maria.
"Our lives are really short; you should treat your other half with a lot of respect and dignity which does not happen a lot nowadays. So, hopefully, we will keep on spreading this message and keep travelling. We love eating, so watch out for food reviews,!" concluded Shehwar.
To know more, you may follow Shehwar and Mari on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/shehwar.maria and YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/c/ShehwarMaria/feature