YouTuber Anisha Dixit, formerly known as Rickshawali, is popular for girl-centric comedy sketches and vlogs. One of the top female influencers on the digital platform with 2.7 million subscribers on YouTube and around 430k Instagram followers, Anisha has collaborated with Bollywood stars like Priyanka Chopra, Kartik Aaryan, Sara Ali Khan, Rajkummar Rao, Boman Irani and others.
In an exclusive interview with The Free Press Journal, the digital content creator, who gave over 200 auditions before starting her YouTube channel, opened up about the casting couch, her Bollywood debut, the insider v/s outsider debate and much more.
Excerpts from the interview:
Is there any shocking or a hilarious incident that you can share from the early days of your career?
Sadly, going to auditions is not always as fun as it looks. There was this one incident during my initial auditioning days, where I had to meet a ‘certain’ casting director, not going mention the name. He asked me to wear a short dress and come to the meeting. I didn’t think much of it, but when I reached his office and sat down, he started acting slightly sleazy. He told me how things work in this industry and to make it big in this industry you have to compromise... He put his hand on top of my hand and started caressing it. I immediately stood up and shouted at him, saying, “What the hell are you doing!” I ran out of his office immediately and deleted his contact out of my phone. This was the most shocking incident I have gone through during my auditioning period.
What do you have to say about Bollywood’s insider vs. outsider debate?
As far as this insider vs. outsider thing is concerned, I feel it is something that exists in almost every field and area you look at. It is definitely there in Bollywood, no doubt about that. It is certainly much more difficult for an outsider to crack it, and make it big in Bollywood. Personally if you ask me, my biggest problem with this whole insider vs. outsider thing is when a system is deliberately created where only insiders get a chance.
Do you have any plans of making your Bollywood debut?
Well, there is a plan. I wish I could tell you more but I am not in a position yet because it’s still in development. But yes, there is a plan! Also, one thing is certainly clear that I'm never going to leave YouTube and content creation. I am where I am today thanks to YouTube.
What do you have to say about YouTubers making their Bollywood debut? Is it a move to generate more clout or relevance with youngsters?
Honestly, it is amazing. Prajakta (Kohli) is doing a movie and Ajey (Nagar) aka Carryminati is also doing one. Soon you will see more and more YouTubers and content creators do Bollywood movies. I don't think it's a move to generate more clout or relevance with youngsters, cause they already are relevant amongst the youth. Probably more relevant than the Bollywood stars. I think it has more to do with achieving greater things. Everyone wants to be in or at least experience a place higher than where they are right now.
Do you feel obligated to comment on social issues? How important is it for influencers to talk about them?
Honestly, I love to address and highlight social issues rather than feel obligated to comment on them. But I’m never in a rush to make a comment. Yes, it’s important for social media influencers to address social issues, definitely is, but it’s also important that the influencers have full knowledge and understanding about the same.
I've often seen digital influencers in a rush to comment on social issues without even knowing all of it. They don’t realize how much impact and influence they have on people, especially on the youth of the country. As I said earlier, I’m never in a hurry to make a comment. I try to gather as much information as I can and see all sides of things before making any comment.
Amid the pandemic-induced lockdown, what was your biggest motivation and how did you deal with the isolation? How difficult was it to shoot videos during the lockdown?
My biggest motivation has always been giving some kind of value to my audience. Whether it's in the form of entertainment, lifestyle, motivation, whatever it is. Isolation was difficult just like it was for others but I had my family with me all the time so it wasn't difficult to deal with in general.
For me personally, it was not very difficult to shoot videos during lockdown because back in the days when I started I used to do everything on my own. So, it was not something I didn’t know but yes it’s a more time consuming process for sure.
You got a chance to represent India globally and meet former POTUS Barack Obama, is there any interesting story that you would like to share with our readers?
Meeting Barack Obama personally is one of the biggest highlights of my life and I will never forget it. The funny thing was, we were all lining up to meet him one by one and everyone just shook hands, smiled for the camera and left. When it was my turn to meet him, I ran towards him and directly hugged him. His security was taken aback and he probably thought I was someone crazy. But, the coolest thing was that Obama himself hugged me back and that is when the security chilled out. I then told him that I love him and Michelle Obama and that they both inspire me a lot. Thankfully, he also said he loves me back so the situation didn’t become too awkward.