Renault Sud Sinha
With over 10 creators sweeping the Indian digital space, the lockdown has changed the fortunes of a large number in both Bharat and India, with many riding the comedy wave.
In the world of social media, where filters are as essential as followers, Prableen Kaur Bhomrah dares to break filters. But then, the digital journey of the Mumbai-based positive skin and body digital content creator, with 2.4 followers on Instagram and over 67,500 subscribers on YouTube, began through these filters. Only the Libra and the Mirror weren’t “friends” to her. “The first 3 years I wasn’t posting much but in 2018-19, I was diagnosed with PCOD. My skin was breaking out, and weight control wasn’t happening. I was using so many makeup filters and blurs that it wasn’t obvious in the rollers/private videos B. What was heartbreaking was that when I met some other creative people at an event, instead of saying “hello” a lot of them made bad comments about my acne. That was when I loaded up on my unfiltered roller and decided to get people talking and feeling good. About getting acne. There were days when I didn’t get out of my room. My whole body was full of acne. I battled depression for two years. That was when I started posting these videos because I wanted to spread awareness about it. When I uploaded my filter-free face , the messages and stories I received from Level 2 and Level 3 towns and villages were enabled. Not just people, there is a difference in the brands approach too. Many brands now want me to show the filter-free face, unlike before.” She has worked with major brands such as Clinique, Estee Lauder, Lakme, Ponds and Nyx.
With the numbers increasing, both for followers and collaborations with the brand, it’s clear that the software engineer has her future in the digital world.
Anisha Dixit aka Rickshawali is one of the pioneering content creators who, since 2013, has traversed the path from being a native YouTuber to a digital innovator. The irony is that she never wanted to be one. With an acting degree from Lee Strasberg Institute of Theater and Film, New York, Bollywood was her obvious destination. “After thousands of tests, I was frustrated, I was looking for some other platforms. YouTube was getting popular in the West. I decided to give it a try and created my own channel, Rickshawally, to shoot my videos in Mumbai cars. My first video was 10 views. My first viral video took about two years to come out and garnered 50,000 views.” From being among the first female content creators to being the first to speak up on taboo topics, this TEDx speaker has many firsts to her name. With three YouTube channels and more than 30 subscribers, this “psychopathic girl” came to life when Bollywood stars invited her to promote their films.
With 20 followers, Bihari Ladka Naveen Singh has over 51 k followers across YouTube and Instagram. A talented dancer and poet, the boy from Siwan posted his first YouTube video in 2014. From comedy to storytelling, this self-made creator’s first video went viral in 2017, making Weddy a celebrity. Life hasn’t been the same since then, with major platforms from Snapchat, Sony Music, Colors TV and Zee5 to brands like Airtel, Navratan and Wow Skin Science using his holistic skills. Navin, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in media from IP University, Ghaziabad, says his popularity has saved him from some tough situations. “Once my car hit a car during lockdown. The owner of the car turned out to be a fan. Instead of getting angry, he clicked a selfie and went away,” smiles Naveen, who decided to choose a career in acting.
Abhijeet Kain’s Insta describes him as an artist, designer, and creator. The creator of Lucknow was always eager to become an artist but didn’t know how to do it. An earlier TikTok star, he started creating Insta reels during the lockdown, combining what he loves – Bollywood songs from the 80s and comedy. In just two years, he has amassed over 12 followers on Insta and 1.27 lakh subscribers on YouTube and has worked with more than 50 major brands and platforms, including Netflix, Myntra, Nykaa and Hotstar. “Before the shutdown, I was just thinking about getting a job and paying the rent, but now I want to continue acting,” says Abhijit, who still works as a graphic designer at Gurugram.
For Allahabad girl, Sakshi Keswani, who calls herself “Talent ki Dukaan”, YouTuber Prajakta Koli and her channel MostlySane have been the inspiration for creating funny related content. Sakshi, an illustrator and poet, decided to move to Mumbai “after my video, a poem in Allahabad, went viral with more than 70,000 views”. Sakshi, who is from the Sindhi community says, “My parents were not very keen but I told them ki main bhaag jaaungi. I asked for a year and came to Mumbai without work and meager savings.” The inspiring actress, who is already working with major brands and platforms like Netflix, MPL, Vicks, etc., has paid off her father’s debts with her earnings.
Delhi teenager Ronit Ashra became famous when he uploaded imitation videos copying Bollywood stars. When Ananya Pandey shared her video on her Insta Story, Ronit became an instant star. From Alia Bhatt, Sarah Ali Khan and Karan Johar to Bigg Boss stars like Rakhi Sawant, more videos have been watched. Ronit, who has since moved to Mumbai to pursue an acting course at Whistling Woods, his goal is Bollywood. The talented creator, who now has his own team to manage his brand’s collaborations and other engagements, describes himself as overthinking and says the only “docks” he faces is time management because of his stressful schedule. But then, time was already on his side.
Mumbai-based singer Adit Minoucha was an episodic content creator who found his niche while shooting his explainer videos in 2020. His first viral video on Urvashi Rautela had to be taken down in March 2020, but the fame it brought launched Adit to digital stardom. The former journalist, YouTuber, who has a large following among women, is a realist who wants to learn from the mistakes of others and knows that growth in the digital world is never static but happens in waves.
The digital stardom of teen Harsh Rani has already made him a Bollywood role. The Brahamastra Actor is another pandemic star who went from 10,000 to 5 lakh followers in just a year and a half due to his funny and relatable content. Mumbai-based Harsh, who also collaborates with other digital content creators, is his only goal in acting and Bollywood.
The all-digital space has a place for every genre, not just comedy. Dehradun-based Himadri Patel, who literally looks like the girl next door, is a beauty and makeup content creator. She started her YouTube channel with lipstick and eyeliner in 2017. The influencer and beauty creator, who works with L’Oréal and Amazon, launched her own lifestyle brand last month, and is completely self-funded. “From my first collaboration for Rs 400 five years ago to earning Rs 3 lakh-7 thousand a month now, I feel happy that I was able to give my parents a home,” says Hemadari proudly.
Anshuman Sharma and Shavir Bansal are two financial experts with a huge fan following in the digital world. Shavir was working with Kotak Mahindra when he decided to branch out on his own, having been IIM-Calcutta, he was working with Kotak Mahindra. “During my tenure there, it was clear that even the chief financial officers of major corporations did not have any knowledge of personal finance. This made me realize that the common man would have less financial knowledge.” His YouTube channel ‘Bekifaayati’, which was launched in 2020, has 11 subscribers with 6.32 lakh more on Insta. BkVity has already launched in five languages and five more languages are scheduled to launch in the next six months.
Anshuman Sharma is a graduate of Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies in Mumbai, and Shaffer’s experience was similar to that of Shaffer while working for a mutual fund company. Perhaps the motive was personal. Four years ago, when my father retired, he was misled in his investments. In January 2020, I quit my job and was looking for a platform to leverage my skills. YouTuber Tanmay Bhat was looking forward to launching a video and audio podcast about finances around the same time. Over the next two years, I worked with him before I went on my own last year.” His channel aired more than 12 episodes of Fix Your Income, a program aimed at people from the age of 18 onwards. With 57.7K subscribers on YouTube and another 20.4K on Insta. He seems to have succeeded in his goal of making personal finance a part of pop culture.
With data packages getting cheaper, 1.14 billion cellular connections and 467 million social media users in India (January 2022) and the economy still growing, the creative economy is sure to create more digital stars.