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Renu Sud Sinha

With over 10 crore content creators swarming the Indian digital space, the lockdown has changed the fortunes of a huge number in both ‘Bharat’ and ‘India’ alike, with many riding the comedy wave.

In the social media world, where filters are as necessary as followers, Prableen Kaur Bhomrah has dared to break the filters. But then the digital journey of the Mumbai-based skin and body positive digital creator, with 2.4 lakh followers on Instagram and over 67,500 subscribers on YouTube, started through these filters. Only the weighing scale and the mirror were never her ‘friends’. “In the initial three years, I wasn’t posting much but in 2018-19, I was diagnosed with PCOD. My skin was breaking out, weight control wasn’t happening. I’d use a lot of makeup and blurring filters so that it was not evident in my reels/videos. What was heart-breaking was that when I met some other creators at an event, instead of saying ‘Hi’, many of them made nasty comments about my acne. That was when I uploaded a no-filter reel and decided to make people talk and feel normal about having acne. There were days when I didn’t step out of my room. My whole body was full of acne. I battled depression for two years. That’s when I started posting these videos because I wanted to bring awareness about it. When I uploaded my filter-free face, the messages and stories I got from Tier-2, Tier-3 towns and villages were empowering. Not just people, there is a difference in approach of brands too. Now many brands want me to show the filter-free face, unlike earlier.” She has worked with major brands like Clinique, Estee Lauder, Lakme, Ponds and Nyx.

Ronit Ashra

With the numbers rising, both for followers and brand collaborations, the software engineer is clear that her future lies in the digital world.

Anisha Dixit aka Rickshawali is one of the pioneer content creators who has, since 2013, traversed the path from being an original YouTuber to a digital creator. The irony is, she never wanted to be one. With an acting degree from Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, New York, Bollywood was her obvious destination. “Thousands of auditions later, disheartened, I was looking for some other platforms. YouTube was just getting popular in the West. I decided to try it out and started my own channel, ‘Rickshawali’, shooting my videos in Mumbai’s autos. My first video had 10 views. It took two years for my first viral video that had 50K views.” From being among the first women content creators to the first one to talk about taboo subjects, this TEDx speaker has many firsts to her name. With three YouTube channels and over 30 lakh subscribers, life has come full circle for this ‘psychopath girl’ when Bollywood stars come calling on her to promote their films.

Prableen Kaur Bhomrah

All of 20, Bihari Ladka Naveen Singh has over 51 lakh 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-taught creator’s first video went viral in 2017, making him and his Dadi a celebrity. Life has never been the same since, with major platforms from Snapchat, Sony Music, Colours TV, Zee5 to brands like Airtel, Navratan, Wow Skin Science utilising his all-round skills. Naveen, who is pursuing his Bachelors in mass media from IP University, Ghaziabad, says his popularity has bailed him out of some tricky situations. “Once my scooty banged into a car during the lockdown. The car owner turned out to be a fan. Instead of getting angry, he clicked a selfie and went away,” smiles Naveen, who has decided to opt for a career in acting.

Naveen Singh

Abhijeet Kain’s Insta bio describes him as an artist, designer and creator. The Lucknow-based content creator was always keen on becoming an entertainer but didn’t know how to go about it. A TikTok star earlier, he started creating Insta reels during lockdown, combining his two loves — Bollywood songs of ’80s and comedy. In just two years, he has amassed over 12 lakh followers on Insta and 1.27 lakh subscribers on YouTube and worked with over 50-plus major brands and platforms, including Netflix, Myntra, Nykaa and Hotstar. Abhijeet, who is still working as a graphic designer in Gurugram, says, “Before the lockdown, I only thought of getting a job and paying my rent, but now I want to pursue acting.”

Abhijeet Kain

For Allahabad girl Sakshi Keswani, who calls herself ‘Talent ki Dukaan’, YouTuber Prajakta Koli and her channel MostlySane was the inspiration to create relatable funny content. A painter and poet, Sakshi decided to shift to Mumbai “after my video, a poem on Allahabad, went viral with over 70K views”. Sakshi, who belongs to the Sindhi community, says, “My parents were not too keen but I told them ki main bhaag jaaungi. I asked for a year and came to Mumbai with no work and meagre savings.” The inspiring actor, who is already working with major brands and platforms like Netflix, MPL, Vicks, etc, has paid off her father’s debt with her earnings.

Sakshi Keswani

Delhi teenager Ronit Ashra shot to fame when he uploaded mimicry videos copying Bollywood stars. When Ananya Pandey shared his video in her Insta story, Ronit became an instant star. From Alia Bhatt, Sara Ali Khan, Karan Johar to Bigg Boss stars like Rakhi Sawant, more videos followed. Ronit, who has since relocated to Mumbai to pursue an acting course at Whistling Woods, has Bollywood firmly as his aim. The talented creator, who now has his own team to manage his brand collaborations and other engagements, calls himself an over-thinker and says the only ‘dikkat’ he faces is of time management due to his gruelling schedule. But then, time is already on his side.

Anisha Dixit

Mumbai-based singer Adit Minocha was an occasional content creator who found his niche while making commentary videos in 2020. His first viral video on Urvashi Rautela in March 2020 had to be taken down but the fame it brought launched Adit to digital stardom. A former journalist, the YouTuber, who has a huge fan following among women, is a realist who wants to learn from others’ mistakes and knows the growth in digital world is never constant but happens in waves.

Adit Minocha

Teenager Harsh Rane’s digital stardom has already landed 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, relatable content. Mumbai-based Harsh, who also collaborates with other digital creators, has acting and Bollywood as his sole target.

Harsh Rane

The all-encompassing digital space has a place for every genre, and not just comedy. Dehradun-based Himadri Patel, who looks literally the girl-next-door, is a beauty and makeup content creator. She started her YouTube channel with a lipstick and an eyeliner in 2017. The beauty influencer and creator, who is working with L’Oreal and Amazon, launched her own lifestyle label last month, entirely self-funded. “From my first collab for Rs 400 five years ago to earning Rs 3 lakh-Rs 7 lakh a month now, I feel happy that I have been able to gift my parents a home,” says a proud Himadri.

Anshuman Sharma and Shavir Bansal are finance experts who have a massive fan following in the digital world. An IIM-Calcutta pass-out, Shavir was working with Kotak Mahindra when he decided to branch out on his own. “During my tenure there, it was evident that even CFOs with big corporates had no knowledge about personal finance. That made me realise that a common man would have far less financial literacy.” His YouTube channel ‘Bekifaayati’, launched in 2020, has 11 lakh subscribers with 6.32 lakh more on Insta. ‘Bekifaayati’ has already been launched in five languages with five more planned in the next six months.

A graduate from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai, Anshuman Sharma’s experience was similar to Shavir’s while working at a mutual funds company. “The trigger, perhaps, was personal. Four years back, when my father retired, he had been misled in his investments. In January 2020, I quit my job and was looking for a platform to utilise my skills. YouTuber Tanmay Bhat was looking to launch a video and audio podcast on finance around the same time. For the next two years, I worked with him before branching out on my own last year.” His channel has aired more than 12 episodes of ‘Fix Your Income’, a show that targets people from 18 years onwards. With 57.7K YouTube subscribers and another 20.4K on Insta, he seems to be succeeding in his goal of making personal finance a part of pop culture.

Anshuman Sharma (left) with Tanmay Bhat

With data packages getting cheaper, 1.14 billion cellular connections and 467 million social media users in India (January 2022) and still rising, the creator economy is sure to create more digital stars.