At home with YouTuber Dolly Singh aka ‘Raju ki mummy’

Being an influencer is hard work. Ask Dolly Singh.

The YouTuber is currently her own director, producer, makeup artist and director of photography, simultaneously.

With a strong 271K followers on YouTube and 755k on Instagram, Dolly is best known for her ‘Raju ki mummy’ role. Given that everyone is practically glued to their phones looking for content during lockdown, Dolly is acting on the principle of ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. “It has given birth to some of my best content,” says Dolly, over the phone from her home in Delhi. “The lockdown has blessed me with some crazy ideas. I also get to spend a lot of time with my dog now which is the best thing ever!”

Motivated by challenge

Discussing the challenges of creating content now, she says “the problem is two-fold. First, you have to think of something that is relevant. No one wants to see content which is not about the lockdown. No one wants to see ‘what happens when you go to a restaurant’ because it’s not relatable right now.”

The second challenge is one of logistics. “You have to think of something you can shoot at home, and alone. I like challenges as they motivate me. The fact that you only have a few options makes you more creative .”

Doing everything on her own, without a camera crew to shoot, has not been a cakewalk.“I’m trying to manage it all without breaking down, which I’m not going to lie has happened a few times during the lockdown. It does get overwhelming once in a while.”

Bring the studio home

  • Shooting your own videos at home may sound intimidating but it is the new norm. With many people on a budget these days, here are some shooting techniques that will up your film-game.
  • Shoot in raw format: Make sure you adjust the settings in your smartphone so it shoots in raw. When you film in good lighting, details and nuance get picked up well in this format. The file size will be bigger so make sure you have enough storage.
  • Levels, maximised: Do not feel discouraged if you do not have a tripod. Before the tripod, there were equally stable amenities such as stacks of books and furniture.
  • Hear, hear: No one is going to judge you if you use wired earphones with an embedded mic. Earbuds are equally good but make sure they are charged to 100% .
  • Timing is everything: Shooting in the morning is ideal; light should be in front of you, not behind you or above you. The proverbial ‘golden hour’ is also quite flattering but make sure you have enough time to shoot within this limited time window.

Her large following on social media does have its disadvantages as well. Dolly, who is learning to ignore hate-comments, says she is getting used to cyber-bullying. “Sometimes I ignore, sometimes I block, sometimes I react (rarely these days),” she says, adding that getting over the ‘imposter syndrome’ was a very difficult part of her career. “I was questioning and doubting my achievements. It was a tough phase but thankfully I am out of it with help from friends, colleagues and family.”

Despite her loyal following, Dolly never planned to be a YouTuber. Interested in the fashion industry, she started a style blog while pursuing her master’s degree at NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology) in Delhi after completing a degree in political science. “As part of my graduation project in college, I did an internship with iDiva. On completion, they offered me the post of a writer whereas I wanted to be a stylist,” says Dolly, adding that she eventually took the offer.

“This was the time Facebook gave iDiva a contract to make videos. We swung into action but we were short of actors. All of us jumped in and did some multi-tasking. I became the producer, writer and then ended up acting,” she recollects.

It was then that she played the mom in a ‘types of moms’ video, which led to even more videos coming her way. Her ‘Raju ki mummy’ character, based on her own mother, is now a hit. “When I did an impromptu ‘Raju ki mummy’ at home in Nainital, my mom almost choked laughing,” chuckles Dolly.