I don’t look at myself through the lens of a female comedian – Mallika Dua
Mallika Dua & Her Alter Egos get candid
If you’re even remotely hooked to the Internet, you’re sure to have seen the famous Sarojini Nagar video that went viral as soon as it was uploaded in January this year. If not, then you must have definitely come across hilarious videos of characters such as Makeup didi, Dadi, Komal or Kanchan. If you haven’t seen any of these yet, then perhaps it is time to do yourself a favour and get introduced to the very quirky and witty Mallika Dua. Her extremely popular ‘Girliyapa – Why Should Hot Girls Have All the Fun’ video could be the place to begin with or even the next time when it is HR. But before you get hooked to Dua’s videos, here’s a freewheeling chat with the Internet sensation.
Where does the inspiration behind all your videos come from?
The need to make people laugh and of course, the characters I encounter in my daily life serve as inspiration for all these videos.
Your character ‘Makeup didi’ has become a household name. What has made her so famous?
I think people enjoy the sheer stupidity of the character and probably relate to it for it reminds them of someone they might have met.
Were you confident of your videos becoming such a rage?
I can’t be confident about anything going viral until I have millions of subscribers. (Laughs)
Has marketing played a role in promoting your videos? Or is this popularity solely based on word of mouth?
Word of mouth entirely. People advise me to boost my posts and pump in money, but I haven’t done it yet.
Your parents also feature in your videos, which is a very interesting touch. How did you convince them?
It’s a very normal thing in our house. In the midst of shooting a video, I ask them to get in the frame and they do it happily. It’s super fun and chill. It makes us all happy.
Would you say that platforms such as Snapchat and Dubsmash have played a huge role in your success?
They have played a crucial role, yes, but the videos that I did before the Snapchat series were what got me followers, which in turn helped make the Snapchat videos popular.
How do you come up with the content or the core theme of your videos? Do you ever face writer’s block?
I’m perpetually facing writer’s block. That, or I’m just scared to listen to the voice in my head and put it on paper. The theme usually stems from something that I have experienced or something that’s entirely bizarre. It’s hard to say. I think I go by the mood that I’m in.
Does it get challenging to constantly come up with quirky content?
It’s more fun than challenging on Instagram and Snapchat. It used to be a challenge when I was a copywriter in advertising. Too much needed to be said in 30 seconds while keeping the brand in focus.
Your earlier stint as a copywriter and sketch artist must surely help in writing scripts for your videos. Also what role has your training in liberal arts played in your journey?
Copywriting helped a huge deal both in terms of discipline and in understanding what works and what doesn’t. Needless to say, my training in acting has played a pivotal role in what I do, or at least I hope it has!
What do you think about the changing face of entertainment – from movies, to TV shows, to web-series and now short skits and running gags; how do you see it evolving?
Entertainment has surely made a giant shift to the Internet. While television shows have their audiences, the Internet is catching up and how. With big TV production houses entering the web space, I see both good and potentially not-so-good things happening online in the future. All in all, it’s absolutely wonderful to see the web and with it so many talented people blossom.
Have you faced any kind of criticism? How do you handle it?
Sometimes I do. Most ignorant people think that every character is Punjabi by default and that maybe I should do other stuff. I don’t pay much heed because variety is something I have been careful of displaying since my very first video – Sarojini Nagar. So, I feel sad for an hour or two, then I eat something nice and watch something nice and I’m good. Also, I focus on the people that like my work more than the ones that don’t.
Comedy is an area which has largely been dominated by men, just like most of the fields. You seem to have broken many boundaries when it comes to making people laugh and entertaining them. What message do you have for upcoming female comedians?
What helps me is that I don’t look at myself through the lens of a female comedian. The tag is limiting. Comedy has no gender; so my message to upcoming comedians would be to keep that in mind when they create content.
How has life changed in the past few months?
People recognise me, some famous people also recognise me, so that’s my favourite cheap thrill. Apart from that, I have moved to Bombay to pursue whatever it is that I do online. I’ve stopped running away from my dream and decided to give it a fair shot.
Having shifted to Mumbai, what are your future plans?
This is such a “beta shaadi kab karoge?” question. (Laughs)