Prajakta Koli© Shivam Gupta

Prajakta Koli On The Rise Of OTT Content & Her Bollywood Journey

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Shraddha Chowdhury

We’ve watched her dance, host, act, play the fool and also throw coffee at a co-star’s face in the most artful way possible. From content creation to acting, walking the ramp, working with the UN and Michelle Obama, and receiving numerous awards, it’s been quite the journey for Prajakta Koli. ‘Mostly insane,’ we’d say. Armed with her signature wit and wide smile, she draws crowds and viewers in hordes, a testament to her fame and growth as a multihyphenate.

“I don’t think any bit of it has actually sunk in,” Prajakta says of her stardom. “I’m grateful but constantly overwhelmed at the same time!”

Grounded and vividly relatable to her online following of over 15 million across platforms, Prajakta didn’t foresee how her career would pan out when she started her YouTube channel, MostlySane, in 2015.

“In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t know where this would head. It’s honestly all been a surprise...” says the ‘Queen of YouTube’ in India.

At just 29, some may dub it a stretch to say that Prajakta has come a long way in just eight years. But when we chronicle all that she’s dabbled in (she once thought being a radio jockey was her calling!), we’re not far off the mark. She wears many hats with seemingly effortless ease, but of the whole lot, she identifies as a content creator the most — for it encompasses all the varied work she’s involved in.

“That’s the one term that applies to everything I do. It could be when I wake up and write a YouTube video. Or when I’m working on an original story. Or when I head to a set in the capacity of an actor, or use my platform for socially relevant conversations,” she explains.

Positive, eager to learn, happy, hard-working and grateful — as she describes herself — her personas are many in number. Though there’s one unmissable, underlying essence throughout: humour. Her chosen medium of communication is primarily what makes Prajakta endearing to her audience — and all because she believed it’s what she’d be “least bad” at.

“It’s not like I could cook, or work on fashion, beauty, or travel. I didn’t have the resources, the money, or the talent for any of that. I had dabbled in comedy during my stint in theatre, with the kind of writing I did for a blog that only my family read, and on YouTube. So that was literally the only thing I felt I could do!”

Her career is embellished with many a milestone, though one she holds close to her heart is her “organic, authentic relationship” with her viewers. Also, what we see across platforms is the real Prajakta, which doesn’t compel us to ask her what she’s like off camera — she brings to the table her true self.

“I was certain I couldn’t keep up with living more than one life because it wouldn’t make me happy. So it surely wouldn’t make my viewers happy either. I wouldn’t have had the relationship I have with them today that I so dearly adore.”

“I can’t list out all such milestones, but everything led to a lot many other things. There was my first meet-and-greet and the ones that followed, shooting with Michelle Obama, being part of a documentary that won a Daytime Emmy Award (that was huge!), presenting at the United Nations...”

She’s come a long way indeed.

While her accomplishments make up an exhaustive list, the spotlight shone bright on Prajakta after she essayed the role of the nerdy Dimple Ahuja in Mismatched on Netflix. Next, this talented young woman’s Bollywood debut included a viral earworm and a filmmaking magnate of Karan Johar’s stature. While she may have had a supporting role in Jugjugg Jeeyo,

Prajakta sure made her presence felt. “I love being on stage. I love rehearsals and learning about new characters,” says the former theatre artist. “I always wanted to get into acting, and I couldn’t have asked for a better film (to debut with). I couldn’t have asked for a better production, director or a better set of co-actors. Everyone was extremely warm and welcoming, and I had the best time!”

In fact, while she may have shot to even bigger fame thanks to Mismatched, it’s the big screen that Prajakta calls her comfort zone.

“I love being in front of the camera and the whole process of being a performer — getting into hair and makeup, remembering lines, talking to the director and your team, shooting, being in front of the camera, everything!”

Having started out in Bollywood and OTT at nearly the same time — just two years apart — she has yet to notice major differences between the two worlds. However, she does believe that the online medium is en route to becoming even more significant than the theatre experience.

“Going by what the audience is choosing, OTT is surely on the rise — it’s more accessible and convenient and reaches a larger audience because it transcends boundaries. Theatre is limiting in comparison.”

“Everyone around the world can watch OTT content, which makes the possibilities endless. And that’s where I think the industry is headed. It’s now become one big pool of content instead of different pockets of content. If you have a good story to tell, it’ll work no matter where it’s watched.”

If her Instagram stories are anything to go by, Prajakta is always on the go (and often running late). When we wonder how she remains “mostly sane” amid the organised chaos of her frenzied schedule, she jovially reminds us that she’s been doing this for a while.

“I have a very close circle of friends, and I’m not overly social. My friends, family and my team understand me and guide me through everything in life,” she smiles.

The artiste finds peace in spending time with her near and dear ones, or curled up with a romantic novel. But one activity she loves — privy to everyone who follows her — is dancing!

“It’s my way of expressing myself, winding down or getting charged, even if it’s in my room at 3am...”

Knowing Prajakta, she has a lot up her sleeve the rest of the year, including projects she says are “not anything I ever imagined I’d do.”

“The fun part of the journey has just begun... I’ve worked really hard, and it’s always nice to see it pay off, be it to secure my future, fulfilling my dreams, ticking things off my bucket list... Having said that, I can’t wait for what’s next...”

And frankly, neither can we.

Cover photo courtesy: Shivam Gupta

This has been adapted for the web from a story originally published in the July 2023 issue of HELLO! India. Get our copy of the latest issue right here!