Was it ‘Insta’-nt fame for this internet sweetheart? Mallika Dua gives us the inside story

Viral sensation and internet sweetheart Mallika Dua has been a performer ever since school – but interestingly enough she craved equally for a career with structure. And it was this very decision that became her launch-pad into comedy and acting.

After school ended, Dua was conflicted. Her father wanted her to graduate in political science, and she gave it a shot, in 2006, for a whole year, but pulled out when she realised how intent she was on honing her acting skills and enrolled for a bachelor’s degree in theatre in the Franklin and Marshall College instead.

When she returned to India, she decided to take a year off and do only plays and only in Delhi, instead of taking up a job. Dua dreamt of eventually moving to Mumbai to pursue acting as a profession, and she also yearned for discipline and professionalism at her workplace, and thus, joined the ad-mad world, where she worked for two years. But she continued to pursue acting, doing voiceovers and writing scripts at the side, and also rigorously auditioning and performing in plays after working hours. “My bosses at both my companies were supportive. I worked in office from 10 am to 6 pm, and would then run to try out for parts and for theatre. I always nurtured my dream,” she says.

Dua says she never meant to pursue advertising or comedy exclusively, which was a wise choice, as it was this stint in advertising that helped her build a professional network, which later garnered her one of her big breaks – the central role in a video titled “Shit People Say: Sarojini Nagar” with ‘A Little Anarky Films’ and Little Black Book – which she also scripted. it garnered 3.1 million views, and Dua was officially on the map.

The viral video made her a few friends in Mumbai who were producing comedy and web series, which convinced her that she was finally ready to move. I discussed this with my bosses at both the ad agencies and my colleagues, and asked them, ‘If I fail, will you hire me back?’ They laughed and said, ‘Yes, but don’t fail.’”

When her parents suggested that she give it a try for six months and then maybe come back to Delhi, Mallika had an intelligent retort. “I asked them if they would have asked me the same thing if I was getting married: ‘Try it for six months and come back if it does not work’.” Dua had won that argument and moved to the capital city.

The Viral Fever (TVF) was the second company to invite Dua to join them in 2016, and that was even before she had moved to Mumbai. “It was definitely encouraging,” she says. Dua got her foot in the door, and comedian Tanmay Bhat was extremely helpful to usher her into the circuit fully.

Dua is certainly on her way to the big league, but she does have an Achilles heel – auditions. “I am bad at auditions,” she says. “I do not understand how one can analyse anyone’s potential over a 15-minute interview. I have performed on stage all my life and we get 30 days to prepare for the role. What I used to be on the first day of practice was very different from what I used to become on the last day. Auditions afford you no time.” Luckily, offers have been streaming in steadily after her Sarojini Nagar video, and hopefully, she’ll be able to skip the painful audition-stage altogether.

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