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How a funny video changed my life

August 07, 2020 13:25 IST
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Diya Parakh

Diya Parakh doesn't really fit into the current mould of comedy artistes.

She is not a college dropout who makes lame jokes about life in engineering colleges.

She doesn't joke about the way she looks and makes a case about body positivity.

She doesn't talk politics or religion.

In fact, she has never performed comedy in front of a live audience.

Yet, her casual observations about how kids from south Mumbai kids talk to their drivers, has garnered over 100,000 views (and counting) on Instagram.

With just five videos up on her Instagram, Diya, who works as a creative associate at a production house in Mumbai, went from just 200 followers to 1,700 on the app in less than a month.

"It's all organic. I don't even promote these videos," Diya tells us.

What makes her so funny?

The 22-year-old arts graduate from St Xavier's College, Mumbai tells Divya Nair/ how a simple idea changed her life.

Were you always so funny?

As a child, I used to mimic people. I loved to act. But it was mostly plays.

Honestly, I never thought of it as a serious career or anything.

Also, bawas (Parsis) I feel are generally funny. I think I get my humour from my dad.

At home, no topic is off limits. We joke about everything.

So what were you really thinking when you made the first video?

I was bored and was just recording it so I could feel good, you know, make someone laugh. That's how I made the first video in May 2020.

It was meant to be shared with friends. I wasn't even planning to upload it or go public, but my sister and parents -- who by the way, are not really active on social media, especially my sister -- thought it was cool.

I first shared it with my friends and before I knew it everyone in my circle had seen the video.

When the video got 5,000 views, I thought: Ok, this is it. This is the highest fame I can get.

But then it hit 10,000 and people are still watching it. I have stopped counting now.

After that I made 4 videos, but till date, people come to my profile because of that video.

Watch how SoBo kids talk to their drivers: Video: Kind courtesy Diya Parakh



How do you record a video?

Now that I have an audience, I have to feel funny faster. So I make notes. And improvise while recording.

Most of the time I am just trying to figure out how to fill the space.

If I don't like it I delete and record again when I feel funny.

I don't spend more than an hour-and-a-half to record a video.

I record on my iPhone 10 and edit it myself.

What about your parents? Are they similar to the characters you portray in your videos?

(Laughs) Not at all. I know, a lot of people feel that about my parents and also ask me.

Even though we are Parsis, my parents are very liberal and progressive. They never restricted us from wearing what we wanted or laid out strict rules.

We are encouraged to have healthy discussions about every topic under the sun.

A lot of what I put in the video comes from what I have observed from my friends and what I have seen growing up, not necessarily my parents. And none of it is meant to harm any person or community.

My parents are ulta (the reverse). They are very happy and entertaining.

In fact, my father has become my PR. He is the one who circulates my videos to everyone.

How are you dealing with the new found fame?

All this is new for me.

I have spent time interviewing other people -- be it in college or at work. But it's different to be on the other side.

Sometimes I am not prepared to answer questions about myself. I don't know what to say.

I have been receiving a lot of requests from people across the country, so it's really sweet and encouraging.

There are messages from people who want to collaborate, but I haven't really thought about it yet.

I remember one person had responded 'overrated' and I am like yeah, you're right. I felt the same when I recorded it.

But I take them as compliments.

Among young artistes, is there anyone you follow?

I know you won't believe it, but I don't even watch comedy on the Internet.

So I don't really know what is trending or who the popular ones are.

I don't watch also because it will stress me. I do my own style.

But yes, I must have been 13 when I watched Supaarwoman (Supriya Joshi) perform. We'd bought tickets and watched her live. I loved her the first time I saw her.

But otherwise, I like Vir Das. I think everyone likes him, right?

Is there any topic you know you will never joke about?

Politics and religion.

Nowadays everyone is getting sentimental about everything. Also, I get very anxious if I say something that might hurt someone. I don't want to be in that space.

You grew up in Mumbai. What do you miss about the city in the lockdown?

I miss the nightlife. The other day I stepped out and it was hard to believe that this is the same city.

There were just four people on Marine Drive. It's crazy to see Mumbai like this. I feel like the soul of the city is lost.

Your secret to success

Know yourself. Be yourself. Don't force it.

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