For a lot of us, the first introduction to this family began with the father, actor Krishna Kumar, who played the iconic villain Vijayan in Asianet’s long-running television serial Sthree. Though he started his career as a newsreader, it was television and later his roles in a few films that made him a familiar face across the state.
But in all honesty, it’s his four talented daughters Ahaana Krishna, Diya, Ishaani and Hansika and their social media presence that has made this family unit among the most influential in the State, especially during the pandemic. In other words, he’s more familiar to a whole new generation as #Ahadishika’s (Aha + Di + Ish + Ika) father.
The First Family
The daughters of Krishna Kumar and Sindhu Krishna live in a house named “Sthree” in Thiruvananthapuram. Ahaana (24), the eldest is an actor, having garnered praise for her performances in acclaimed films such as Rajeev Ravi’s Njan Steve Lopez, Nivin Pauly-starrer Njandugalude Naatil Oru Idavela and, more recently, Tovino Thomas’ Luca. It’s this fame that gave her a head-start in the world of social media (she has two million followers on Instagram). As for the family, their social media exposure was earlier limited to posts of Ahaana and Krishna Kumar. In the last couple of years, all other members have chipped in to give us a reality show-like access to their lives.
Even Ishaani has made her debut as an actor in the yet-unreleased Mammootty film One. But, it is during the lockdown that the sisters ramped up the content they were putting out, with each of them dividing their focus between social media profiles and their individual YouTube channels, graduating from smaller stories and posts on Instagram and TikTok. As of September 26, Ahaana has 379,000 subscribers, Diya has 278,000, Ishaani has 181,000 and Hansika has 225,000 subscribers on YouTube.
Content With Their Content
Even before they started creating videos exclusively for YouTube, the sisters’ feeds on Instagram were wildly popular, with posts featuring dance performances, photo shoots, travels, and funny TikTok videos of them acting out scenes from movies.
Gradually, their profiles also started featuring reviews and brand promotions for businesses such as clothing, makeup, jewellery, skin care and even holidays. “DM for paid collaborations” also became a part of their bios on Instagram. Diya (with about .6 million followers on Instagram), who is known to promote clothing and jewellery brands, also has a highlight called “For Promotions” showcasing her influence with messages of her followers discovering a particular brand or a product because of her posts. In these messages, terms such as “Diya saree”, “Diya Banarasi”, “Diya Kundan”, “Diya Top” are common, with brands thanking her for an increase in their follower count.
As for Ahaana, a graduate in visual communication, her feed has a wider variety of content that includes her singing and dancing videos apart from occasional social awareness posts. Hansika, the youngest, appeals to a different age group with several TikTok (now Reels) videos, trends and a few brand promotions (her latest YouTube video promoted Byju’s app).
On YouTube, it was their performance of the already-viral dance for ‘Jimmiki Kammal’ that cut through the clutter to bring them statewide recognition. Later, their content on YouTube took the form of personal vlogs with “What I Do In A Day”-style videos, cooking videos of family recipes, shopping trips, behind-the-scenes shoots, rooftop barbecue dinners, family festivities and their much-loved group dance performances, apart from other light-hearted content. This has created a sense of insiderness among viewers, as they feel they are a part of the family too, sharing their dinner-time conversations and inside jokes.
Like in a long running sitcom or a reality series, the sisters too have developed fans of their own with viewers connecting to traits and behaviours unique to each of them. For instance, Ahaana takes up the archetype of the “studious one”, Ishaani the “quiet one”, Diya the “funny one” and ‘Hansu’ as the baby of the family.
In terms of content, their cooking videos, for instance, feature easy-to-cook recipes explained in a way that connects to first-time chefs, and presented in a conversational tone. They have also done individual “Q and A” sessions where they answer questions that are personal and, at times, mundane.
As for views, their videos consistently manage over 200,000 views and are constantly on YouTube’s trending lists as and when they’re put out. For instance, a video titled “It’s Rambutan Time” where Ahaana simply takes us through their backyard garden, explaining how it came to be, amassed a massive 2.2 million views and 5.3K comments (86K likes and 13K dislikes). Their performance of ‘Oh Nanana’ too worked big time with over 3.8 million views, a number seldom achieved even by Malayalam film songs.
But it’s not just the four sisters and their father. The mother Sindhu too plays an important role, especially behind the scenes, with her being responsible for shooting several videos (and pictures) that get posted. And when she started her own YouTube channel a month ago, she quickly notched up 120,000 subscribers, finding a place on top of the trending charts. She herself is no stranger to the limelight, having featured in several interviews with the family even before this social media prominence. From technical support and recipes to makeup and styling, the sisters have often credited her with being one of the major motivational forces behind their success.
I Love You Like I Hate You
And like with any kind of fame, on social media or otherwise, the popularity does come with its share of brickbats. The family found itself at the centre of several social media attacks when Ahaana posted an Instagram story hitning the extension of the COVID-19 lockdown was the Government’s tactic to divert attention (and supposed protests) from a sensational gold smuggling case. What followed was a barrage of trolls that eventually led to her taking down the story.
While a section criticised her spreading misinformation, given her reach, at such a crucial time, another used it as a license for sexist attacks. A few days after this incident, Ahaana put out a video titled “A Love Letter To Cyber Bullies” taking on the culture of trolls and social media bullies who attacked her not just her for her opinion (whatever it may have been) but also her family. What this video did (it was shared widely even by other celebrities) was bring awareness on how widespread and personal trolling can get and the effect it has on people. This led to another series of accusations and attacks about the sisters that further divided opinion about them.
But given their popularity, and the fact that they are pioneers (at least, in this part of the country) in a social media-obsessed world, we learn more about the nature of these platforms as we witness their journey through it. Like the Kardashians, who are among the most influential families in the world, all thanks to an erstwhile novel media model called the reality show, the Krishnas, or the Krishdashians are they are called, seem to be the beneficiaries/victims of the powers of social media. What was said about the Kardashians holds true for Krishdashians as well…“love them or hate them, but you can’t ignore them.”
(With inputs from Meera Venugopal)