Mallika Dua on How She Built Her Brand as a "Comedic Actor" In an exclusive chat, Dua talks about Indian comedy, how she became a social media star and what makes her laugh on the Internet
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
Instagram or Snapchat, don't we all resort to using the exceptionally weird filters at times to entertain our friends or maybe ourselves? Well, for Mallika Dua, these short videos with various filters became a way to connect with her audience, build a brand and introduce Make-up Didi into our lives.
Today, she has various avatars (a special mention here for Tinder Aunty), and Mallika Dua – the comedic actor and entrepreneur, as she likes to be known by – is the new comedy Queen of India.
Entrepreneur India caught up with Dua as she spoke about her journey, dealing with trolls on the internet, building a business of her own and why she's great as a solo rider.
From an Advertising Intern to a Social Media Celebrity
Dua has a degree in theatre, but it was never Bollywood calling for her. Growing up she was always curious about ads, which drew her attention to the advertising industry. She interned at McKain Ericson and still holds that internship as an important chapter of her life.
But for Dua, one thing was clear – she always wanted to be a performer. Theatre was always on the cards and soon she found herself performing in plays. "In the theatre group I was a part of, comedy came my way. I had the best comic lines and I would sometimes add my own punches, the result leaving the audience in splits," said Dua. This helped Dua realise that she was good at comedy, the simple yet complicated art of making people laugh.
Building Mallika Dua – The Brand
There was a time maybe, when Dua was just another Delhi girl but today when Mallika Dua walks into a restaurant, all eyes are on her. People sitting across tables start pointing out Dua to their friends as they exclaim, "It's her!". This is soon followed by people walking up to her, requesting for selfies or just having a word with her (You can hear the words "I'm a huge fan" from across the table).
When she started off, Dua admits that she had no idea about how the industry works. A part of her was sceptical even though things do well on the internet. However, as soon as she started be it her videos on Snapchat or videos like Shit People Say: Sarojini Nagar Edition, there was no stopping her. "Brands were soon flocking us and I didn't waste my time. From the first video itself, there was a lot of talk online, which also got many journalists' attention. I was enjoying it all," she said.
Dua was also offered a full time job at The Viral Fever but she declined the same, as she believes she's good as a solo rider. "I like to be seen in my individual capacity. I also have a lot of creative freedom, I get to decide everything which is good," she said.
In Dua's videos, there is an element of relatability which works great for her. "Sometimes the content is also bizarre, which just becomes an escape from the daily life for the audience," said Dua.
More Than Just Comedy
For years in India, we have viewed comedians as just that, not as actors who are damn good at their craft. Dua believes that for long we have segregated comedians from actors, which is why she calls herself a comedic actor. Today, she believes they have the capability to do so much more. "With the decay of television media, we are slowly realising that Bollywood is not the only entertainment factory in India. There is an alternate stardom that's rising with the power of social media. In the West, there are comedy specials where people have their own shows. We need to promote a similar culture in India," she said.
Dua also believes we don't have too many opposing voices in India. Today, she believes they as comedic actors have the chance to take a stance even if it's political. "With our work, we can bring about a change," she said.
Can You Be Funny All the Time?
For comedians, there are many challenges. Walk into a party and people just expect you to be funny. While people expect new and fresh content all the time, there are days when a comedian struggles to find the right story to share. "Comedy is a very organic thing, some days you are just not motivated at all and that can be tough," she said.
She has a team that manages her schedule and casting, for Dua believes that it is not possible for one person to do something and be happy. There are hits and misses in the videos she produces, but working as a freelancer also comes with its own set of troubles. "You don't have a fixed schedule, you have to be more focussed on what you do. At the same time, you need to be updated about what others are doing. There is a discipline that needs to be cultivated when you are on your own," she said.
And then come the trolls. While Dua says that not much hate comes her way, she believes that trolling is a big problem in social media, where people can just say anything under the armour of anonymity.
What She Focuses On? Being Happy
Dua has lots on her plate currently, but she looks forward to producing more content and finding new ways to make people laugh. For Dua, it was a "humungous change" to move from her home in Delhi and shift to Mumbai and she still finds herself running back to Delhi to moment she gets a chance, but she admits, "the work ethic in Mumbai is unmatched".
A day in her life starts with checking her phone (duh), and then yoga. Through the day, if she's not shooting, she's cribbing about creating content. And just like any other person, Dua's priority list sees herself saving and investing her money but right at the top is "being a happy person".
What's her daily dose of laughter? "Cats on the Internet, of course!" she quips.