Meet the comedienne with the largest YouTube fan-base in India: The “MostlySane” Prajakta Koli
At 25, the chirpy girl-next-door from Mumbai, Prajakta Koli, is living a ‘fairy tale’. She is a comedienne and YouTuber who has over 3.3 million subscribers, making her channel MostlySane, the largest Indian female-run comedy channel as of February-end. In 2017, she was invited to meet the former US President Barack Obama at an event organised by the Obama Foundation in New Delhi and received the ‘Viral Queen of the Year’ award in 2018 at the IWM Digital Awards. Last year, she became an Indian ambassador for Youtube’s ‘Creators for Change’ initiative — one among 50 YouTubers selected from across the world. In March 2018, she was chosen as the face of H&M’s online store.
She has achieved all this in a span of just four years since her channel launched, in 2015. What’s interesting about her story is that this happened by chance, and would have never happened if she’d have followed her lifelong dream of becoming a radio jockey. But her real journey towards success and an amazing career began when her dream as a radio jockey shattered in 2014-15 after the failure of her first late-night show, Call Centre.
During her stint at Fever 104, a chance meeting with Hrithik Roshan turned out to be the turning point in her life. She was spotted by Sudeep Lahiri who accompanied the actor and later joined One Digital as vice-president content and strategies — the company that handles Koli. Impressed by her bubbling energy, he asked Koli to give YouTube a shot. To discuss this, he invited her to his office — which Koli initially thought was a job interview. She was undecided but Lahiri persisted for six months, and she finally gave in.
Koli didn’t know much about fashion or make-up — subjects most female YouTubers handled back in 2015 — and Lahiri suggested that she would be a better fit for comedy. Her channel hit the web in February of the same year and by June, she had posted a video on hilarious words Delhi people use. It went viral, getting her 30,000 new subscribers by August from just 2,000 in June. YouTube too hasn’t been a cakewalk for Koli. Her initial videos were subject to a lot of hate comments, often being criticised for her accent or being called a ‘wannabe superwoman’, referring to the popular Indian-Canadian YouTuber Lilly Singh. Not just her videos, she faced flak for her body too. But she fought back, and in 2016, on World Mental Health Day, she started the #IPledgeToBeMe campaign and wrote a rap song, Shameless, for the video — discussing mental health, body shaming and so on.
In 2018, as an Indian representative for YouTube ‘Creators for Change’, Koli found herself sitting in a huge hall in the UN watching her video ‘No Offence’ being played on an equally big screen. The video song, written and enacted by Koli, dealt with subjects such as hate, xenophobia, homophobia, and sexism — in tune with the theme of the event. This was her biggest achievement till date she says, and she wants to work even harder on challenging old stigmas and breaking new barriers.