Gaurav Gera, the Internet sensation with more than 600K likes on his facebook page and 323K followers on Instagram is a most humble and humane celebrity we have in the industry where it’s hard to be different and honest.
Starting his career from the theater, Gaurav Gera has been on a long journey which according to him has been the most adventurous one and he doesn’t want it any other way.
In this interview with DigiKarma, Gaurav talks about his struggle, his most memorable show performance and about becoming the most favorite shopkeeper on the internet.
Q. Hello Gaurav, Welcome to DigiKarma. Let’s start from the beginning, where is home for you & how did your journey start?
It’s a long story that started with my early inclination towards Theatre acting. Since I arose from Gurgaon NCR region, there weren’t many available opportunities there in the field at the time. I started studying fashion designing, garments manufacturing, exports & merchandising, however, I soon realized that wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Since my Dad was funding my education, I did not want to waste his money on pursuing an education in a field that wasn’t my interest. I will always be grateful for my Dad for always understanding & supporting my dreams. Choosing Theatre was tough but thankfully I made the right decision at the beginning of my career when I was young & had limited responsibilities.
I then found work in Theatre & ad films while in parallel I moved to Mumbai, where I did Television Shows, Movies, Radio & Musical plays which got me to where I am today. From being a dancer in live musicals to the Instagram & YouTube popularity that I have gained, it has been an interesting journey.
Q. Would you say that before becoming an Internet sensation you went through a phase of struggle in your career?
Maybe I have just been lucky, but thankfully I have been in and out of the industry as and when I needed. Once a very successful director told me – “You choose what you do. You very conveniently come into the industry and then step up” & that’s how it’s been with me. I just do my work and get out for a little while. From the very beginning, I chose not to ever do daily soaps or similar routine jobs back to back. I did Radio in 2007 & then I went back to it in 2015. I love to do various things that excite me. To find something that excites me is the struggle I usually go through & not about finding work. I end up saying ‘No’ to a lot of things & stick with what feels right.
Q. What’s the story behind Chutki?
In 2009/2010, I felt my patience dying on TV Shows esp. the longer content that was repetitive. That was when I turned to YouTube to watch differently styled content. I realized then, a multitude of new generation stars born from the web spanning all over the world, even young kids & teenagers who were doing extremely well. At that point, I challenged myself to jump into this & learn to edit etc.
I Consequently I made a lot of videos which led to the birth of Chutki’s character.
However, after that I took a break as India faced many challenges at the time with Internet usage, speeds, cost etc. because of which I was not able to reach the right audience.
Q. So YouTube attempt failed, then what?
From 2011 onwards, I was pulled into Kingdom of dreams which took up most of my time especially with continuous rehearsals for 9 months – 12 hours a day training for an 800 people audience. At that time I kept so busy that I was unable to free up my mind to create any additional content. In 2013 I was able to do two TV soaps but life was very hectic with the traveling between Delhi & Mumbai.
Q. How did you land Kingdom of Dreams?
Like I mentioned I’m from Gurgaon & the show is based in Gurgaon. In Oct 2010, when I got to know that Husain (TV Actor) was doing a show in Kingdom of dreams (Zangoora) – I went there to see it and I clearly remember being mesmerized with the grandeur. I even remember praying to God at the time that I want to be part of something like this that I can be proud of for the rest of my life. Luckily enough, in the after party at Husain’s flat, I bumped into the director from his show & he mentioned that he had earlier thought of me for his one. Few months passed & in 2011 April, when I was visiting my brother in the US, I received a call for the show which the director had mentioned. I auditioned once I was back in town & it took me about 9 months of rigorous rehearsals to be up to the mark of playing the lead role with respect to building my stamina for the strenuous performances.
Q. Who and what inspires you to do what you do?
I truly believe that we should not wait for things we want to do but to create the things we are good at. This is what has inspired me throughout my life. I realized very early in my life that I love to play multiple characters. In TV soaps and movies we are usually limited to playing one character, some people can do that phenomenally but I didn’t want that for myself. So, when no one was offering me a script to play multiple characters, I then created It myself- which is my main kick.
During my earlier shows, I remember begging my producers to place me in multiple roles. Like when I was playing a lead role, I would also request to play a background role like a guard but that wasn’t well received by the team so I didn’t get that chance to fulfill my creativity and play various characters like a woman, a child, a one person cart – everything. At that point, I knew that I will myself have to take charge and trust that I will be able to deliver.
Q. These characters that you play on Instagram like Bhidu Uncle or Suyash, are they a product of your imagination or real life people you may have met or seen through your journey?
A lot of my content is born from the things that I have experienced from when I was a child. Like for example the very first joke with Chutki – “Lipton di chah, lipton di chah te mujhe bhi hai, aajayiye”, was a very old joke that I had heard when I was young. I draw a lot of things from my life for my content but like the creation of Chutki, the girl, that was mostly imagination. I have never seen a girl like Chutki but I imagine her to be someone from the 60’s, how girls used to be in movies – the tone, the character was defined in a way that will stand out. Another example would be of the shopkeeper- once I had created that character; my friend asked me to check out the vegetable seller’s voice & asked if I had taken the inspiration from him. I honestly did not remember but when I went secretively and recorded his voice, I realized that the character was very much like the real person I may have sub consciously registered in my mind. This is what usually happens – it’s a mix of what I experience and imagine.
Q. What are some tools or software(s) you may use to edit your videos?
I used to edit the longer format videos on SCP. I bought 2 Macs and also editing software but afterwards, I realized everything is available for free and we just have to look at the right places.
At that point, I searched for free software online and learnt from there.
Most of my editing is really done on phone – to save time. Longer videos took me 2 days to edit but when I started making shorter videos, I decided I’m going to spend most of my time on creating content rather than editing.
At that time I realized that most people successful in this arena were already very far ahead with the tools & money at their expenditure which I could not afford to lock myself down with. Since I wasn’t ever a business minded person, I wanted to create something solo, something on the go, such that I can create characters while I’m doing other things- even at shoots in vanity vans.
Q. Did you ever or do you still after becoming famous (with hundreds of thousands of followers) actively market your content?
With the amount of content generated on the internet today, you need to market your content or the content may get lost. That is why I now have a marketing budget. The bigger you grow, the lesser videos are shown on Facebook or social media, that is why I do boost my posts on Facebook as that is very easy (not Instagram) and more people will get to see the video. My advice though for people would be to not spend too much money. Do according to what you have and there are many smarter ways to market videos like creating videos about current topics – that is what attracts people. When a topic is trending, people look to take a side & at that time if you share content that matches their point of view – that tends to do very well.
Facebook Page for Gaurav Gera (@gauravgeraofficial)
Q10. When you are a content creator, you also get a lot of haters and critics. You have been subjected to negative comments especially regarding your cross-dressing. How do you deal with such negativity on the internet?
The negativity that I received was actually much less than I anticipated, and thankfully so. I was expecting to have 50% haters & 50% good feedback, but to my surprise, the positive feedback was upwards of 97%. There are ways to block aggressive & negative people on social media but my advice would be to just ignore such commenters & not take the hate comments to heart.
I will give you an example – on a recent video of mine, a guy commented “Shame on you Gaurav Gera for playing a woman in every video”, to which a girl replied, “Haven’t you noticed that he is also the shopkeeper?”. So if someone’s negativity is coming from the place of ignorance, you shouldn’t take that as the end of the world. Also, such comments leave me confused if I should indeed be happy that my acting is so good!
Q11. When you first thought of playing “Chutki”, did you feel hesitant about it backfiring on your career or personal life?
In 2004, I was doing the Great Indian Comedy show so my family and friends were well acquainted with the fact that I & all other actors in the show play characters (both as females and males). Never the less, Internet is a little scarier than TV as there is a lot of interaction that happens with the viewer’s here. , When I returned to doing videos in 2010, being an established actor, I was surely judged by many, however, good content speaks for itself – which is why I continue to do what I do.
Q13. Regarding Tanmay’s controversy with Lata Mangeshkar & Sachin – since you also play Bata didi, during the time you made the video schooling Tanmay as Bata didi -didn’t you fear that it may backfire?
At the beginning, I was quiet since I was already playing Bata Didi & wanted to continue to show people her simplistic side without crossing the line since I absolutely adore her. My video was only about the situation with Tanmay – not to school him or anything but to mitigate the situation. Being content creators there is a lot of content that may not be good but it shouldn’t be taken too personally or aggressively. I didn’t agree that people were very aggressive towards him, I think if someone doesn’t like some content they should simply ignore it & not become Nasty.I wanted safety for Tanmay & wanted to convey to people to be sensible & move on.
Instagram Handle for Gaurav Gera (@gauravgera)
Q14. Thank you for providing DigiKarma with the opportunity to interview you. Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?
I do not believe in the norm of reading books or watching a lot of content. I personally feel that doing this may influence my material.This is why I like to keep my content untouched from such influences & that’s what my recommendation would be to the newbies. I don’t mean that one should be unaware of what’s going on in the world but I don’t follow any specific artist to learn what I do. Do what you feel is right for you according to your budget and creativity. Don’t follow blindly!
And thank you! It was my pleasure
Note: This Interview was taken by Ash from DigiKarma.
Facebook Page for Ash (@officiallyAsh)