It is very likely that you have chanced upon hilarious videos of ‘Naazmi Aapi’ and ‘Kangana Runout’ making satirical comments on the Citizenship Amendment Bill, the unemployment rate or the divisive politics in India while scrolling through Twitter or Instagram. Meet 20-year-old Saloni Gaur, who brings these characters to life.
Gaur’s rise to fame has been quick. A student of political science from the University of Delhi speaks to Silverscreen India about her journey from being a one-minute comedian, to hosting her own show Uncommon Sense with Saloni on streaming platform SonyLIV.
How do you incorporate the social, political and economic issues in your art?
This incorporation is not deliberate. I read a lot and it comes naturally to me. From the beginning, as a kid, my father was very particular about two things- read the newspaper and eat breakfast. Over the years, this became a habit. I am a student of political science and talking about ‘issues’ interests me.
There are 11 characters you introduced since you started creating satirical content online. Will we get to see them all in Uncommon Sense with Saloni?
Every character that I created on my social media will be in the show, except the first character which is of Pinky Dogra. There will be certain new characters who will be introduced through the show. I cannot disclose the nature of the characters. For that, you need to watch the show.
Why didn’t you perform long forms for your own content on social media?
I didn’t have a tripod or the resources required to make one. I used to hold the camera while shooting and that’s not possible for long-form videos. My videos were just me sitting in front of a white curtain.
Your social media videos were not more than three-minutes long. Now you host your own show which roughly has around 18 minutes of content. How different is the experience?
It is completely different. Earlier it was just me and my camera. Now there are different people working for the show- a director of photography, a director and a full-fledged writing team. There are also three cameras instead of one. I am really enjoying the process though. I learnt that what we see on television is not the reality and there are no separate rooms for shoots. It’s just an ever-changing wall which gets redecorated according to the sequence. This has been a fascinating revelation for me.
We wanted something in long-form. Particularly for my social media audience. The always complained that my videos were short and ended the moment they started enjoying it. Thus we have a stand-up, sketch and an ending segment in the 18-minutes episode.
How nervous were you with this change of work environment?
The first half an hour while shooting for the first episode, I was really nervous because I didn’t know how camera angles worked. It took me some time to settle in and calm the wrecking nerves.
Previously you had your own rules in terms of the content you put forth. Have the rules changed after you began working with the OTT platforms?
There have been no restrictions from SonyLIV and our team has been given full creative freedom. The writers make sure the content looks natural when I deliver it. I do not contribute to the writing part but we sometimes discuss the narration calls for punching up the script. In my own videos too, I did not indulge in name-calling or targeting anyone. This is what satire actually means, you say something and the other person is not able to understand whether it was them or a generic comment. That confusion needs to be there.
It’s been a few days since the show started on November 6. What are the reactions you are getting?
The reactions are wonderful, whoever has seen the first episode has liked it. Some people have said that certain things were missing but that’s because they have just seen the first episode. This is not a series where six-episode have released at a time that you can judge it immediately. We have just released one episode, there are 19 more to go.
Your other show Maa ke Haath ka Reviews on Amazon Prime Video was a huge hit. Will the audience get to see more of such content?
It was just four-episodes long, but Amazon Prime and I might be collaborating for more such videos in future. I used to make my own reaction videos which were a minute or two long but for Amazon Prime, we decided on at least four-minutes long videos. It was a very middle-class thing, you will never see a mother react to Mirzapur. My mother had not even watched Mirzapur and seeing someone like a mother character react to Mirzapur was a very captivating and funny concept.
After starting shoot and completing promotions for your own show, what is your daily routine now?
I have been being quite busy. The whole day passes by with shooting and I get very less time to shoot my own videos. Before the show, it used to mostly be me completing studies and then sitting down to make videos. Nowadays, I manage to slip and post something on social media every single day. I hope to continue doing so.