Mallika Dua and Kusha Kapila talk about making people laugh amid the pandemic, content creation, and more

Social media sensations Mallika Dua and Kusha Kapila are best known for tickling the funny bone of the audience with their content. The two have carved a niche in the entertainment industry by creating comedy videos through slice-of-life situations and characters over the years. Kusha's entertainment avatars of "Billi maasi", "Monday aunty" and Mallika's characters of "Tinder aunty", "Make-up didi" are well-loved by their fans. The social media accounts of these ladies are brimming with content that leave people in splits. Even during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, both Kusha and Mallika have tried their best to uplift the spirit of those in distress by their hilarious videos. In a candid interview with Cinema Journal, the internet stars opened up on the challenges they faced while creating content in such hard times. They also spoke about their experience of participating in Amazon Prime Video's latest comedy show, "LOL — Hasse Toh Phasse". Excerpts from the interview:

Has it ever happened that you are not in great mood but you have put your feelings aside to make people laugh in these stressful times?

Mallika Dua: To be honest, I struggle with it. It's not easy to put my mood behind me and still be able to create videos. I would be lying if I say that I do it very selflessly. I do it for myself also. If I am having a bad day or not in good mood, it's important for me to push myself...it's a way of self-charging. We make videos for people in our profession, but sometimes our content also nourishes us and helps us to cope up with distress. Also, It's easy when the set-up is already there but when it comes to shooting on your own, editing on your own, it becomes difficult. Doing make-up and styling hair all by myself kills me. You can notice that most of my spontaneous content is in my night suits.

Kusha Kapila: I feel my characters act as a coping mechanism for me. For instance, I only create 'Monday aunty' when I am not feeling good or feeling like absolute trash. 'Monday aunty' is quite pessimistic and cynical in life. When you watch it, you will feel that 'Monday aunty' unleashes many truth bombs about life. If I am feeling good, I don't create 'Monday aunty' videos. Like Mallika, I also find it difficult to get ready for the acts... it's a full 'syapa' for a lazy person like me. I try to use filters when I don't feel like dressing up or applying make-up.

What's your performing process like?

Mallika Dua: It depends upon the medium. I feel there should be a process in my life as far as Instagram is concerned. I am still struggling to look it as a completely official thing. Of course, I have a process when it comes to shooting for projects as there's proper script involved, but I also try to tweak or modify my lines while enacting. If I have not written the script from scratch, I try to make it mine by twisting it a bit in my style. What I have learnt from theatre is that if you have something in paper, you should rehearse it before putting it out. It's very important to know the scene and what you have to say before coming in front of the audience or camera.

Kusha Kapila: Actually, I am super spontaneous. I thrive when it is improv... I really like it. I have worked with a lot of actors on their movie promotions where I tried to do improv acts only. Also, output is great when two actors who love improv work together. I remember once working with Pankaj Tripathi sir. We both had our scripts written on our teleprompter, but we did everything on our own. We were feeding off each other's energy...it was all improv. The process involves a lot of writing. It's not like that we just switch on the camera and perform...a lot of writing is there.

How was the experience of participating in the show LOL — Hasse Toh Phasse?

Mallika Dua: It was great. Initially, I was not sure whether I would be able to do it or not. I am quite shy in real life. But the minute I went inside the house and saw everybody, I realised I could not get a better opportunity than this. My focus was to have a good time there. We were there only for pure entertainment.

Kusha Kapila: The purpose of the show is very different. It was not easy to control our laughs... my lips started drying after a while. Also, when you forcefully try not to smile, your face starts twitching. I remember telling Mallika at one point on the show that my face is feeling weird. To simply put it, a show like this can't be made again. It's a beautiful show. People from different generations of comedy gathered together under one roof...it was once in a lifetime experience. In fact, I have some new made friends on this show.

Did you get any tips from the show's hosts, Boman Irani and Arshad Warsi?

Mallika Dua: They both are such phenomenal performers. They have managed not to get stereotyped in their career, which is quite aspirational for some of us. The best part of meeting them and working with them is that they don't have an intimidating vibe. They gave us warnings and a lot of tips on how to survive in the show.

Kusha Kapila: They were quite appreciative. I remember Arshad giving me compliments for cracking one of the jokes that made him laugh a lot. The two even pulled our legs. We had a friendly banter with them. They did not make us feel that they are such huge stars.

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