As she gears up for her new series Mismatched on Netflix, Youtuber Prajakta Koli, popularly known as Mostly Sane, chats with Sneha Menon Desai about the lure of being an actor, unintentionally hilarious anecdotes from the life of a YouTuber and one thing you will never see on her channel.
SMD: For someone who has built so much fame of her image and her fame by virtue of just literally being yourself – what excites you about being another character now?
PK: The first time I went on set as only an actor was for Mismatched. That was the first time I was playing a character I hadn’t written. I was just like, ‘Oh I don’t know anything about her,’ because she wasn’t a fragment of my imagination. The first couple of days were very tough – I would give a shot and instinctively go to Akarsh, who’s the director, and ask, ‘Kaisa tha? Can I see it?’ He’d be like, ‘Go stand there, we are doing one more take.’ I’d keep over-analyzing everything, I’d keep nagging Akarsh. Even when I wasn’t giving a take, I would just go and stand next to him to see what he was doing. The first few days, it was tough for me to break away from the whole creator personality and go into an actor personality, which helps you spend more time working on your character rather than having scattered concentration.
SMD: Like you said, these are not creations of your imagination. Was there ever a moment of panic that you could be really terrible at this?
PK: All the time, more on Khayali Pulao than on Netflix, because with Dimple’s character there were a lot of traits that were very similar to me. But with Asha, the one thing that linked us was that we were both girls. There was nothing else about her I related to – I’m not 17, I’ve never been to Haryana before. The first time I went to Haryana was for the shoot, I didn’t know the language, I don’t have friends who speak the language. Every minute I spent as Asha. I was trembling. I was so scared because it’s such an innocent message and it’s so delicate, you don’t want to overdo or under-do it. At the same time, it can’t look like they couldn’t get anyone else and that’s why they made it with me or you that I wasn’t good for the character or that I was trying too hard. All of this was in my mind all the time, so I think I was very nervous as Asha.
SMD: You do a video about your morning routine or your lockdown thoughts and a million people including me will watch it. What are the pressures of that? Have you ever had to rewrite or reshoot or edit something because you suddenly felt that the messaging could be problematic?
PK: Definitely. It’s a Thursday-to-Thursday struggle for me. I’m not going to lie, every Thursday a new video goes up and I go into this mini place in my head where I’m like, ‘Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, I hope this works, I hope this works.’ Because I 100% realize the responsibility that comes with this reach and the impact. There have been so many times when I’ll work on a script for a week and then one night before the shoot, I’ll be like, ‘So this doesn’t work, can’t do it.’ And then I change it. So many times, my team is just like, ‘Make up your mind, this won’t work, there’s a bunch of people waiting to edit your video, you can’t do this.’ But that’s very common – so many times I remove references, there are some things that I find funny, there are jokes I crack with my friends, but then I don’t know how it’s going to be interpreted when it comes out. So even if I have a sliver of doubt that this could go in the opposite direction, I take it out.
SMDesai: There’s so much of you that we see on the internet, where do you draw a line? What about you will we not see on Mostly Sane?
PK: There’s a very clear line when the people around me are involved – my family, my friends. Just because I decide to live life as an open book, I can’t expect that from anyone else around me. When I’m chilling with my boyfriend, that’s a line that I will draw because he’s not someone who likes being social. I’m not a compulsive sharer. I love sharing and I love talking about things that matter to me. I will talk about what I have named my newest pimple or how my chin hair is growing. I will talk about everything me, but when I am with family or friends, there’s never a compulsive need to share. I never reach a point when I’m like, ‘Guys, can I please share this? Can I just put an Insta story?’
SMD: Iss pe views aayenge, no?
PK: As creators, it’s very important for us to stay sane, especially around people you’ve grown up with. This helps you stay grounded. There have been so many times when I’m recording a story and maa in the background gets annoyed like, ‘Maine gown pehena hua hain purana wala, mere baalo mein color nahi laga hai and I’m in your video, do you have no shame? You have nothing you care about.’ So I make sure that stays in place.
Each creator to its own, whatever works for them. I personally believe that, as consumers, we spend so much time on the internet and we’re so immersed, so invested, so affected by whatever’s on it that I consciously choose not to share my bad days. I totally respect creators who want to share both sides. They don’t want people to have unrealistic expectations about their life and that’s fine, but I wouldn’t want to kill the vibe of somebody who is having a great day by making them watch me cry over something.