From Instagram sensation to full time entertainer- we decode the new kid on the Indian comedy block, Mallika Dua, in a DSSC Secret Conversation.
“I’ve always been very dramatic,” she says when asked what led to her foray into comedy. “As a kid I would take one of my dad’s possessions and use it as prop in my acts, like taking his hat and performing as a qawwali-walah at home. My parents and sister encouraged me unfailingly.” Born with theatrics and comic sense in her blood, the stage has been a part of Mallika’s life for as long as she can remember.
Always keen on being on stage, she dabbled in all aspects of theatre while still in Modern School, Delhi- from singing to writing to, of course, acting. Continuing this streak, she was actively involved in the theatre activities while at Hindu College, and also acted in her first commercial play with Crazy Spotlight Productions- an adaption of Boeing Boeing called Fasten Your Seatbelt. “I played an Airhostess and my lines were really funny; that’s when I realised that comedy is something that comes naturally to me and I’m my most happy self doing it, and so my love for dramatics was streamlined into comedy,” she says about how she and comedy happened to each other.
Taking on from there she went to Franklin and Marshall College in the US to pursue her first love, and majored in Theatre. Coming back to Delhi in 2012, the theatre scene in the city had her jaded, “Delhi doesn’t have a working theatre industry, one play would happen and people will be very happy- but what next?” The lack of an active drama industry led Mallika to try the other thing she knew only too well- advertising. “I wanted a schedule, and more importantly I wanted to learn more than acting on stage. It was very important for me to work somewhere as I’d never held a job until then. With that in mind, I knew where to look- advertising, as it combines my love for dramatics & humour.” And with her mind set, she went on to work as a Copywriter for three years, but the love for performing didn’t leave her and she continued to make witty videos on social media platforms, and it wasn’t long before her talent was recognised & she left behind advertising to realise her Dubsmash & Instagram popularity as a full-time career.
As the universe was laying down life’s plans for her, there’s been one person who’s been in the background, helping Mallika connect the dots- her father, veteran Journalist and Padma Shree awardee, Vinod Dua. “I’ve inherited my sense of humour from him, and the attitude towards life he imparted to us- to be prepared for a longer run in life. Also, his interactions with theatre persons meant that we were around them all the time when growing up, which certainly helped me learn about the art!” It’s been less than a year and the daughter has already carved an identity of her own, doing videos across varied platforms such as Girliyapa, AIB, A Little Anarky, and more. With her art being appreciated by audience & critics alike, she took the leap of faith and shifted base to Mumbai in August this year. On becoming an ‘overnight success’ she quips, “I feel lucky that the time & place, everything was aligned very well. While most comedians have grown as the internet grew, I’m grateful to have entered at a time when the one-minute video format already existed- often good content is produced but it’s ahead of its times, I wouldn’t want to be one of those as that would be a waste of talent & energy.”
She offers a new take on being one of the few females in this field, “I’ve never considered myself a ‘female’ comedian, there’s nothing like that, a funny person is a funny person and a joke is a joke; of course if you deliberately make it about women then you’re limiting your own potential and your audience. For me the most flattering thing is that guys and girls both find me funny. I also believe it’s no big deal to be the best in 10 female comedians, you should be the best all over!” Though the limelights brings with itself accolades, it doesn’t do so without a pinch of flak, and with today’s audience interacting with personalities directly through social media, we ask how’s it to be the Darling one day and Debby Downer the other, “The content I create isn’t too risky, so the flak is minimal. I’ve been fortunate that people like what I do, plus the size of the internet audience isn’t unmanageable. The little criticism that comes my way isn’t harmful, the online world gives us so much attention, a minor downside is only expected.”
Telling us whether she’ll do a Colaba Edition of the Sarojini Nagar stereotypes she did, she says, “The move to Mumbai has kept me busy with shoots round the clock, which tire you out to no end. But I’ll be doing a lot more characters soon- so look out for EVERYTHING!”
With that keeping us clicking the Refresh button consistently, we get ready with the signature DSSC rapid fire before saying farewell to this funny woman.
Q. Out of all the characters you’ve played, which is your favourite?
A. Komal (The stereotypical Delhi University student who love K’Nagz and relies on kunjis to pass exams)
Q. How is Dadi liking the Delhi to Bombay change?
A. She feels I don’t sleep enough and now I’ll start using kari patta in everything. She’s very concerned about my skin too!
Q. Which of your characters is closest to your personality?
A. Umm…Shashi? Yes, Shashi! (Komal’s boyfriend)
Q. If DSSC were to offer Rs 10 crore to Make-up Didi, what will she do with it?
A. She’ll run away from here to start a new life in Dubai.
Q. Where would Komal & Shashi go for a date night?
A. Adventure Island in Delhi, and in Mumbai they’ll go to Juhu beach and have Pao Bhaji.
Q. Where will Kanchan & Komal go for a girls’ day out?
A. Buddha Jayanti Park in Delhi and Madh Island in Mumbai
Q. Date, Kill, Marry-Choose three separate characters for each.
A. Date- Khushboo (Komal’s innocent younger sister), Kill- Kanchan (Komal’s jealous friend), and Marry- Komal.
Q. Comfort food when makeup didi messes up?
A. Mutton Biryani.
Q. If you had to do a dubsmash for Stevie, what would you do?
A. A Food review video in my style, where I hate everything I eat.
Q. If it’s the last day on earth, which restaurant will you go to with your gang of fictional characters?
A. I love Chinese, so it has to be T.K’s at Hyatt.