How a trainee copywriter became the most popular girl on the Internet.
Success means different things to different people.
For Sasha Chetri, Airtel's '4G girl', success means 'eating well.'
Ask her how her life has changed after hitting pay dirt with the Airtel campaign and Chetri candidly says, "I think I eat better now and buy more food. I can now buy the fruits that I could not earlier. I can also go to restaurants which were beyond my reach. Otherwise, I am the Bata kind of girl, you know. I am not that much into fashion."
Her big purchase will be a house in Mumbai, which she hopes to buy soon, "Inshallah".
Born to a Nepali mother and Himachali father in quaint Dehradun, Chetri is a classic millennial. In her 20-something years (yes, she does not want to disclose her age as she fears it will lead to her being typecast), she has gone through a major bout of quarter-life crisis and come out tops.
Born in a century where conformity was handed down like a precious heirloom, Chetri too inherited all the baggage that came with it. All the right boxes were ticked early in life, as far as academics were concerned.
Having done her schooling from Brightlands and Welhams in Dehradun, Chetri graduated in literature from Symbiosis, Pune. She even got a diploma in advertising and copywriting from the Xavier's Institute of Communications just so that she could get a 'decent job' like her two elder sisters.
One of her elder siblings is an MBA and the other is a wealth manager, which meant the pressure to achieve was that much more on young Chetri, who comes from a middle income family.
She explains, "My sisters funded my school and college (education) as my father had taken premature retirement from the army and was pursuing his passion for art."
Incidentally, Chetri is not her real surname but her mother's family name. Chetri lost her mother at 11 and took it on as she identifies with it. In the early years, when she moved to Mumbai from Dehradun, she tried very hard to 'fit in' and do the right things, like taking on a regular job to earn some money.
"You know how important it is to fit in and get the right job," she says. "I studied advertising so that I could get a decent job. But I did not last long at the ad agency where I was working. Eventually, I had a breakdown."
Chetri finally ditched her job to work for an NGO. But this shift was not painless. Unhappy with her copywriting job, she found it difficult to cope with her hand-to-mouth existence and went back home.
But she did return to Mumbai and decided to work for a not-for-profit organisation, which gave her enough life experience to pursue what really gave her happiness: Music and arts.
"This was a very fulfilling period in my life as I really enjoyed the work and my music. I realised it was my calling," she says. "I always knew I was going to be in the spotlight, but I thought it would be my music that would get me there."
Chetri kept auditioning for movie and advertising roles alongside her day job at Muktangan, an NGO that works with children.
Like most life-changing events, the audition for the Airtel ad campaign was also an accident. "I had just cut my hair short and I felt I would not fit in at all," she says. "I kept refusing to go, but my friend was very insistent so I went along."
The rest, as they say, is history. Since the advertisement was launched, Chetri is said to have enjoyed more airspace than most celebrities. But social media has not been kind to her, with people writing comments like 'most irritating person of the year' and 'the annoying Airtel 4G girl'.
Chetri, however, is not bothered. She would rather focus on her work.