We have all gone down the rabbit hole that YouTube is — at least I have. We start in the morning with one video and then realise five hours later that we are still watching those beauty-related, DIY, dance and music videos.
YouTube completely overhauled the field of content creation. Most importantly, it provided women with an opportunity to address an audience directly, having their voices heard with no intermediaries.
About 15 years down the line, we have a host of Indian women YouTube stars pushing the envelope.
Here’s a look at some of them:
Comedian, actor and content creator Prajakta Koli’s YouTube channel MostlySane takes a fun, sardonic look at what it means to be a woman in metropolitan cities. The sheer range of characters she portrays is remarkable — from her ‘dad’ and ‘mom’ to just being Prajakta, a girl trying to figure out life (aren’t we all?). With a whopping 4.99 million subscribers, Koli is definitely one of the most talented YouTubers out there. I definitely recommend her video on single women.
You cannot go wrong with food and with Kabita’s recipes, you definitely cannot go wrong. Kabita Singh, a former full-time family manager and now YouTube cooking celebrity, began her journey in 2014 and rapidly gained subscribers — today, she has 6.3 million followers. A look at the comments section suggests that her recipes resonate with students the most — those who live away from home and are essentially inept at cooking. They enjoy her easy-to-follow recipes. Singh’s journey to the apex of food YouTube is symptomatic of the work-from-home trend that the platform endorses.
Shruti Arjun Anand
Shruti Arjun Anand’s channel, with 6.45 million subscribers, is definitely a busy one. Shruti portrays herself as a jack of all trades and her content is a testament to that. Video sketches, makeup tutorials, life hacks, vlogging — she does it all. And considering her subscriber count, quite successfully as well. She averages 5 million views on almost every video, propelled by the innovation that she puts into them. There is a distinct ‘desi‘ quality to Shruti’s content; even her tutorials begin as sketches before diving into the instructions, which are often delivered in a funny, colloquial voice-over.
While mashups are not everyone’s cup of tea, one must listen to Vidya Vox or Vidya Iyer. Her covers and mashups of Hindi-English songs are exceptional. The best part is that she does not limit herself to predictable Bollywood numbers. One of her most popular videos is a cover of Kerala’s traditional boat song ‘Kuttanadan Punjayile‘, usually sung during Onam, which has more than 69 million views. In a video about her music journey, she revealed that her father was abusive and that life in the US as a brown immigrant was also not easy. Today, Vidya Iyer is one of the most successful Indian YouTubers, with 6.52 million subscribers and growing.
YouTube has innumerable beauty vloggers who stick to mainstream Western beauty products. But there are some who have moved away from the horde to encourage indigenous products and Shweta Vijay is one of them. Indie-beauty products, which are made in India by locally sourced materials, are not well-known and are often not able to compete with the glitter and glamour associated with branded, imported products. Shweta Vijay, the Kerala-based 2003 Miss India who is now a makeup and lifestyle vlogger, promotes various Indian beauty products — which are often produced by companies run by women — besides putting out her usual dose of beauty and skincare-related ‘how to’ content. They are huge hits, clocking views in lakhs, and getting thumbs up and rave comments from other makeup bloggers. An interesting thing about Vijay’s profile is that it doesn’t display the subscriber count, which shows she isn’t into using it as a badge. When it comes to YouTube, not just content creators but viewers also hanker a lot for the subscriber count. Not Shweta Vijay, though, so more brownie points to her.