Smart, sassy and witty, Dolly Singh started her content creation journey writing on affordable fashion and outfits. Working at a popular digital platform, she forayed into essaying the role of a South Delhi girl in short, funny videos. Her character Raju ki Mummy slowly started to garner rave reviews from netizens and she gradually made a place in India’s heart. The digital content creator and Instagram influencer-turned-actor gets talking to us about the social media space, the pressure to remain relevant and her entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us about your childhood a little?
We are a family of four and my brother and I were brought up in Nainital. Growing up in the hills was obviously different from growing up in the big cities like Delhi and Mumbai. The town is quaint and the life was slow paced. I was an introvert and observing people and their mannerisms was my favourite hobby and most of content is derived from those observations. Coming from a modest background, we never got anything on a platter. But, I am grateful for all the struggles as they have shaped me in who I am today.
What did you want to become as a kid?
I always wanted to become an actor. I never said it out loud even to myself because I was so insecure. I mean at that point everybody we saw in the films was so beautiful and really nice looking. As a kid, I was also made very aware that I was not a good looking person and it got to me at a very young age made me insecure. I always thought I could never act, I could never be that person, I could never reach there. Also, coming from a small town and a modest family, you are not allowed to think big. You can never reach there. It’s too hard.
Were you always funny as a person?
Most of us have different personalities at home and at school, and I was no different. So in hindsight, I was already an actor essaying roles. I loved organising dance competitions in the recess at school. Not being good at dance, I loved doing weird dances like monkey, or karate or snake dance. I was popular in my school for my snake dance. I think I was just stupidly funny. Even though I was a quiet child at home, my mom tells me that I always had a few one liners up my sleeve that would make everyone uncomfortable or make them laugh.
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What do you think was the turning point of your career?
I started work at iDiva as a stylist and as a writer. Soon enough, they got into a contract with Facebook, and we were supposed to make video content and of course none of us knew how to make videos. We didn’t have actors, producers, directors so we all chose different roles. We didn’t even have the scripts in the beginning, we would just improvise but I think definitely it was a turning point in my career because I realized how much I was enjoying it, how it came naturally to me and how people were loving it. I think the actor inside me could finally perform and could finally be out.
When did you realize that you’ve become influential?
Initially, my parents were worried about the video content I was making. Content creators were unheard of. But with social media boom, people started appreciating my content especially in my hometown which made my parents understand it better.
I think them just coming around made me realize that maybe I have become influential. In another instance, I posted a random selfie and in my quest to look smart, I wrote ‘I was craving taco bell’ and I didn’t even tag the brand. The next day, I got a random call that we are from taco bell and we are waiting at your office gate and we have a lot of food for you and that felt great.
Did you ever get to hear that you’re a woman and funny, that’s rare?
All the time. I think in general people treat women who are trying their hand at comedy or standup or videos derogatorily. They troll us and always try to pull us down saying, “Oh you think you’re funny.” Women are not funny or even if they want to complement us, like you said it’s a very backhanded compliment like ‘For a woman you are funny. Mujhe nahi lagta tha ki ladkiyaan itni funny ho sakti hai.’ It’s not a compliment even though you think it is. Have heard that a lot, definitely fought for it a lot through our content, through our comments, through replies, through our conversations like these but I hope that it changes. Hoping we don’t become women comedians and only comedians and actors and not women actors. These tags are so stupid and have no sense.
What were and still are some of the challenges that you’ve faced or are still facing, if any?
In general, content creation has become so competitive which is great as someone who’s from the industry, I like that the industry is booming and people are joining it at such a fast speed and people are really considering this industry as a logical and a viable industry and it feels good. At the same time as a content creator, you want to stay relevant and you want to keep getting work which of course is a challenge, but I have learnt to work around those challenges. For us the challenge is to stay relevant and to get through all this competition and still make sure that you are doing everything right in your own right.
With amazing content creators debuting every day, do you feel the pressure to remain relevant?
Of course. Like I said there is a pressure to remain relevant. At the same time there is so much more that I want to do in life. I want to act more. I want to do maybe some more brand collaborations. Maybe launch a product or two like I did with candles recently. There is a desire to try out different things not just with your content but with your life in general and as someone who is growing older everyday these are things that you think about. You will be relevant today, you won’t be relevant tomorrow, maybe day after you will be relevant again. That is how the internet works.
What are your views on the current social media influencer space in India?
I think we are killing it. It’s a great space to be in. Everybody who’s an aspiring to be a content creator, join now. This is the best time to be a content creator. Small creators are being pushed a lot and it feels so good to see that every other industry is taking our industry seriously and it’s being considered a lot more real work. I feel initially people thought of it as not real work. But now people understand that a lot goes into content creation.
How excited are you about turning an entrepreneur?
It’s very exciting. I always feel like this is a responsibility that one has to follow and if my followers have to buy something tomorrow, the product that I make has to be something that they genuinely enjoy. I actually made a video about funny candle names and how I want them to be. In January 2022, a lot of candle brands reached out to me. Rad Living was one of the first brands to reach out to me and I was already their customer. In the pandemic, I became candle lover and I started collecting so many candles. During the pandemic specifically when we were home, we wanted our homes to smell better, to look better, to feel better and so many of my friends and I bought so many candles and now I have such a big collection of candles. When this whole thing came about it felt so natural to me because I genuinely love candles a lot and I thought the process could be fun and I also realized that my mom actually used to make candles when we were growing up.
I also want to talk a little bit about the theme. I have played around affirmations and manifestations. I wanted to give a twist to manifestations and make it funny. Things like I am manifesting saccha pyaar or I am manifesting a Goa Trip. You know things like we always plan or joke about but it never happens or I am manifesting `*Saste* *Nashe*’ . It’s such a funny thing to have. And candles like I am my own `*Sugar Momma *‘and that’s an affirmation or `*I am a Calm kutti*’ or `*I am a Sensivert. *
Tell us why did you foray into candles and not accessories or clothing?
Like I said, candles felt a little more natural as a progression to me because I was so much into candles in that time and even right now and Like I said family business, it’s a full circle. I definitely think accessories and clothing may happen some day but I felt more at home with candles for sure.
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