India@75: A nation in the making

Dolly Singh has the last laugh, always

Dolly Singh has battled trolling and self-doubt to become one of the most popular digital content creators with her funny-yet-relatable videos that also address social issues

Naandika Tripathi
Published: Jul 25, 2022 12:47:47 PM IST
Updated: Jul 25, 2022 12:59:52 PM IST

Dolly Singh has the last laugh, alwaysReinventing on a daily basis and coming up with new content is tough, but I’m passionate about doing it, so I never give up: Dolly Singh
 
For someone who has been incessantly trolled on social media to get her teeth fixed, Dolly Singh had the last laugh as photos of her flashing her pearly whites adorned hoardings across the country. The comedian is the face of dental care brand Colgate India whose ads convey that women featured in them have embraced their teeth and bodies.  

“When people stare at my teeth, I smile out loud,” says Singh in Colgate’s new toothpaste ad. The 29-year-old concedes that being an influencer and digital content creator is a double-edged sword. It invites a lot of trolling and backlash that inadvertently takes a toll on her mental health.

The Instagram influencer-turned-actor who hails from Nainital in Uttarakhand has been making funny videos for a living since 2015. Well-known for her famous character ‘Raju ki Mummy’, Singh’s videos are inspired from the regular and relatable stuff that everyone experiences daily.

Dolly Singh began her content creation journey when she was pursuing fashion management from the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi. She started her blog, Spill the Sass, which focussed on affordable fashion. Later, she worked for iDiva as a junior writer and stylist where, for the first time, she was asked to face the camera, and told to be funny and random. Thus, began her stint with creating videos.

Dolly Singh has the last laugh, alwaysShe was more into fashion than comedy, but things changed after she discovered a different side of herself while producing videos for iDiva. Her mimicry of South Delhi girls and the ‘Raju ki Mummy’ character started gaining so many views that the videos began going viral. “The celebrities started following us after seeing this content and that was the push I needed to accept it. I became more open to the idea of creating funny content. After two years, I moved away from iDiva to focus on creating my own content,” says Singh.

Funny and outspoken, Singh comes from a humble background. Her parents were not comfortable seeing her in certain kind of clothes when she used to create content for her fashion blog. Hence, she kept it a secret from them. Today, her parents—who run a small gift shop in Nainital—are proud of what she has achieved and become on her own.  

A one-woman army, Singh ideates, writes, shoots, edits and promotes all the content herself. She also plays multiple roles in her videos. The content creation job, however, comes with its own set of challenges. It’s not easy to please the audience on a daily basis. One needs to keep reinventing and keep up with the current trends. “One day, the audience is liking something… the next day, they like something else. It’s very hard to keep up and impress people. Another challenge is holding the audience you already have. It’s tough to keep creating new content, but since I’m passionate about doing it, I never give up,” says Singh, who mostly creates content for Instagram and is gradually trying to build long-form content on YouTube. Her biggest source of income is brand collaborations.

Singh has been vocal about political issues, social causes and mental health in her videos. In an effort to keep her content diversified, fresh and new, she also faced roadblocks with engagement at times and that’s when self-doubt starts creeping in. “I keep questioning myself whether people know me enough. Am I getting enough work? What do I need to change? There are times when I have to start from scratch again. But in a way, self-doubt motivates me to keep doing better,” she explains.

Dolly Singh has the last laugh, always Dolly Singh and her various avatars on social media

Though trolling and hurtful comments are part and parcel of the industry, it leads to burnout and Singh’s mental health gets badly affected. Sometimes she manages to deal with them with courage, but at times, the nasty messages and comments invariably keep playing in her mind day in and out. From the outside, it all looks glamorous, but coping up with such situations is definitely mentally and emotionally taxing. “I try my best to take care of my mental health. Apart from seeking therapy, I have started taking more breaks where I avoid using my phone totally. Every day is about getting validation from the audience and in this process, you forget that you have your own real life too. This is where I have tried to step in and take a step back, and rethink what I want and don’t want to share on social media. I have stopped getting Instagram notifications on my home screen… it was mentally affecting me to keep looking at those all day. I only get notifications when I open the app,” says Singh.

The digital content creator recently starred in the Netflix series Bhaag Beanie Bhaag and Modern Love Mumbai. She’s working on several upcoming OTT projects.
 
By sharing her journey, she also deals with social issues that young girls face—such as body image issues—and promotes body positivity among her audience, says Harsh Pamnani, brand expert and author of Booming Digital Stars. “I have heard from many teenage girls that Dolly’s content is relatable, and her authentic story has inspired them to chase their dreams. I’m glad she has received so much love and support from her social media audience and is shining on OTT. I believe she has enormous potential, and it will be fascinating to see how she, as a personal brand, will evolve,” he says.

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(This story appears in the 29 July, 2022 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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