The beauty of content right now is that you don’t have to choose: Prajakta Koli
The popular YouTuber talks about her recent DIFF award, her foray into Bollywood and how she reads all her comments on social media because she derives validation from her audience!
The pandemic made most of us shift gears in life. It was no different for content creators, who had to more actively respond to the demands of digital mediums. But YouTuber Prajakta Koli says she was lucky to not be in complete shock when the lockdown happened. “I had been creating online content for six years, so aisa nahi hua ki hum sochein ki ye kya karein, ye kaise hota hai. Everything I did during the lockdown I had done before; I had shot videos by myself before, conducted hour long video calls to brainstorm and edit those videos. While it wasn’t new, it did get to us when we had to do it for months on end,” she says.
With 2020 behind us, 2021 started on a good note for the Youtuber and actor, whose short film, Khayali Pulao, recently won Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival award for the best short film. Asked how she feels about the recognition and she says, “I just happened to be with the best bunch of people who had a lot more to do with this award than I did. Khayali Pulao was shot across Haryana and I had the luck to play Asha. The fact that the film won as a film is what makes this special.”
But is she one to seek validation for her craft via awards? “I derive validation and motivation from the way my audience reacts to my work. What may be mediocre to me, may be good to my audience and vice versa. Awards are great; it is a great pat on the back and it’s always amazing to be rewarded for something you love so much. For me it is the cherry on top,” she says.
Prajakta has a slew of projects that have kept her busy, one being her big screen debut in Jug Jug Jeeyo starring Varun Dhawan, Kiara Advani, Anil Kapoor and Neetu Singh. So is Bollywood her destination now? Koli says, “The beauty of content right now is that you don’t have to choose. The boundaries are blurry; it’s no more just Bollywood, or OTT or Youtube. Everything has become just one big pool of content. Audience is king, and they get to pick what they want to do. So as an artist, it is amazing to me that I can be a blogger, while doing a Bollywood film and a series on OTT. So I don’t want to tie myself down to a particular medium and not try new things. That will be unfair.”
In a crowded online space, how does Koli manage to remain relevant, six years into the business? With a 3.4 million strong following on Instagram, Koli says she depends on her audience engagement to guide her. “I pay a lot of attention to what my audience is trying to communicate to me via comments. I incessantly read through my comments, people think I am a little bit narcissistic (laughs). That is 80% of my process. The remaining 20% is meeting people I look up to, watching content and understanding what’s working. I try to get as much perspective as I can through my team as well,” she opines.
Of late, there have been conversations around social media becoming a breeding ground for hate. How does the blogger navigate her way through negativity on her platforms? “Honestly, after spending so much time online, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only thing that helps me grow is the constructive feedback that I get online. So no amount of attention I pay to useless hate is going to get me anywhere. I will really look over negative comments, and am blessed to have an audience that stands strongly beside me through thick and thin. So it will be unfair to do anything that takes my attention away from them,” she feels.
Author tweets @bhagat_mallika