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Miss Llaneous, Ekthi Kapoor and Caller Naina are some names you may know her better by. Nidhi Bisht is an Associate Creative Head and actor at the hugely popular YouTube channel, The Viral Fever Videos. In this interview with Bar & Bench, Nidhi, a former litigating lawyer at the Delhi High Court, talks about shifting careers, making people laugh and the fallout of the AIB roast.
Having completed her legal education at Jamia Millia Islamia’s Faculty of Law, Nidhi Bisht joined IPR firm Singh & Singh at Delhi. As is often the case, parental pressure led her to pursue law as a career.
It wasn’t really a choice. My parents wanted me to do a professional course, so it was a decision between law and medicine. I was always interested in theatre and acting, though. I was specializing in IP litigation with Singh & Singh LLP at Delhi, working with Pratibha Singh. After one and a half years, I realised that if I had to shift to Mumbai to pursue what I really wanted, I had to do it now. So, I spoke to Pratibha, and she was pretty cool about it.
In 2010, after a short stint with Pangea3, she made the bold decision to move to Mumbai and start her own theatre group, New Brain Theatre Volks. It wasn’t the easiest of shifts.
The change of location (coming to Mumbai), finding work – these were both issues. I used to write and direct as well, so I started my own theatre company. I did plays and worked with other people involved in theatre, some of them well-known names. Later on, I met Arunabh Kumar, Founder and CEO of The Viral Fever Videos (TVF).
And the rest, as they say, is history.
At TVF, Nidhi Bisht pretty much does everything from concocting formulae for viral videos, to writing scripts to directing and even starring in the videos.
Nidhi as Caller Naina:
I am an Associate Creative Director at TVF. That essentially means that I’m responsible for writing, directing and acting. Apart from that, we discuss the latest happenings around us and what kind of videos we can make based on that. We also try and gauge how our audience will respond to what we make.
The forerunners of the comedy revolution in India, YouTube channels such as TVF and All India Bakchod (AIB) are garnering a huge number of followers. TVF recently crossed the 1 million subscriber mark, while AIB has close to the same number of subscribers. In the wake of the recent AIB roast controversy, TVF, in a show of solidarity, recently released a video condemning the negative reactions to the roast.
As part of the TVF team, we had already released a video expressing what we felt about the whole situation. My personal opinion is that I don’t have a problem with the content that was posted online, but there should be some reasonable restrictions. Having said that, being forced to take down the content is completely unacceptable. We had touched upon the issue of freedom of speech in the video we made. In our country, there are already so many bigger problems. When a joke is made, you either laugh or you do not. Taking offense and making a hue and cry about it should not be done. People need to calm down and stop taking everything so seriously.
That was one of the points made during the recent News Hour debate as well. On that show, counter-views were given from different perspectives – religious groups, creators, who are responsible for putting up the content.
As Miss Llaneous, Editor of Share-Poop on TVF’s News Hour debate:
Although she doesn’t deal with the law anymore, her legal background does give her an edge when it comes to writing skits based on social issues.
No, I’m not a lawyer anymore! I do understand the legal ramifications with respect to the AIB roast controversy and know what can happen to them. But now, I’m strictly part of the creative team and don’t use any of my law background.
However, I do put my legal education to use sometimes. For example, when jamming on ideas or controversies surrounding social issues, having an understanding of law gives a subtle advantage. It gives a novel perspective of understanding things from a creative and legal point of view.
With the Working Title series as testament, law graduates often take up careers in alternative fields. Here’s her advice for law students and graduates who have the intention of doing the same:
Doing law helped me in more ways than one. I think it helps you get a perspective on a lot of things. I did a five-year law course from Faculty of Law at Jamia Milia Islamia, so I got to study the arts subjects like Political Science and History, which really helped me develop my creative side. The evolution of human psychology is something I’ve always been interested in and it helps me to this date. My advice would be to just follow their heart and learn as much as they can from the law course. But before you switch from law, you need to gain the whole perspective. I left the legal profession only after practicing.
Give your 100 percent in whatever you do. Even though I didn’t wanted to do law, when I was doing it, I gave it my 100 percent. Now as I work with TVF, I try to give it my 100 percent.
Four years and countless roles later, we asked Nidhi Bisht to pick the favourite character she has played in the TVF videos.
I don’t think my favourite character will be anyone else’s favourite character. During the initial days of Viral Fever, we made a skit about New Year’s celebrations on Doordarshan. I played a character called Snehlata Thapa, and I think it has been one of the best videos I’ve been involved in. But apparently, the audience thought otherwise! I guess people didn’t take too kindly to the fact that we spoofed Doordarshan.
Nidhi Bisht as Snehlata Thapa on the Doordarshan spoof:
HT to Sourya Banerjee for his assistance.
Image courtesy: YouTube