Published: 21st June 2020
Being Saloni Gaur: Meet the Instagrammer whose Nazma Aapi character trolls pretty much everything
From CAA to the PM-CARES Fund, from the Janta Curfew to the lockdown in general — if it has happened, Saloni has spoken about it. And this is exactly why we love it every bit of it
If you've been scrolling Instagram during the lockdown, chances are that you have come across Saloni Gaur (@salonayyy). She is the 20-year-old Delhi University student who took social media by storm with her one-minute take on topical issues. With several videos dropping throughout the week, her savage humour and inimitable delivery have won over Instagrammers across the nation. With over 343k followers, her popularity has been soaring with each passing day. We spoke to the comedienne about what inspires her, trolls, her characters and much more. Here are the excerpts from our conversation:
What inspires you to make these one-minute videos on current issues? Tell us the story behind the idea.
I began making videos in 2017 when I went to college in Delhi. I made videos of whatever I saw there. The first video I came across on Instagram was of Mallika Dua (actor and comedienne) and I realised that you could post videos on Instagram as well. I made my first video in November or December that year. It was a rant about people posting birthday messages on social media a month before the actual date. I developed a character named Pinky Dogra, who would rant about anything and everything. It was around Eid in 2018 that I created Nazma Aapi. I decided to speak about Eid preparations and thought the character of a Muslim woman would be more relatable.
From CAA to PM CARES Fund, you have an opinion about a lot of things that are affecting us now. Are you worried that it might offend someone or cause backlash? How do you deal with that?
I make videos about everybody. If I am saying something about the government, I will say something about the opposition too. I am a satirist, a comedienne and I am allowed to joke about everybody. This is a democratic country but people get offended about everything. Even if I post something about my family, someone in the audience will get offended. People are filled with rage and they vent it out on the wrong person. I don't care about trolls — the best way to deal with them is to not deal with them at all. They are just keyboard warriors. It did get to me initially but my brother told me that is how they are. I have muted my Twitter notifications as that is where all the hate comes from.
Saloni as Nazma Aapi
You have developed so many characters till now — from Nazma Aapi to Kangana Runout (a parody of Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut) and Aadarsh bahu — during the lockdown. How do you find the inspiration to create these characters?
My type of comedy is called observational comedy — what I see is what I say in my videos. But the characters aren't based on anyone. The dialect in which Nazma Aapi speaks is that of Old Delhi and Western Uttar Pradesh, from where I belong. When my father's friends came home, I listened to their dialect and tried impersonating it. The Aadarsh bahu character was inspired by saas-bahu dramas on television that my mother used to watch all the time.
Saloni as Kangana Runout, a parody on Kangana Ranaut
How do your parents react to your videos?
My parents become very happy when they see me on TV or read an article about me in the newspaper. They don't understand social media much but when I reached 200k followers, they were happy about it because I am happy about it. My mother still wants me to become a banker after I graduate. Whenever she would go to the bank no one would hear her out and she wanted one of us to become a banker and do something stable. She still asks me to appear for the banking exams.
Do you think the one-minute time limit on Instagram videos can be restrictive?
It is not restrictive. There is an option to upload on IGTV but a shorter video has greater reach as people can view it for a short time, have a laugh and then move on. While I am making one-minute videos now, I plan to make longer one for YouTube. I am not doing so now because I don't have a proper camera or other equipment to make that happen.
Did something or someone from your childhood, school life or college days inspire you?
I used to mimic everybody in school — my friends, my teachers and even my principal. A teacher from school who taught English Communication actually inspired me to pursue this. Once during a class, someone told him that I can mimic people well and he asked me to mimic him. He was impressed and suggested that I try mimicking celebs and politicians.
What are your plans after the lockdown ends?
I want to perform stand-up comedy at a club but I think it'll be a while before that happens. I will try to focus on making more YouTube videos for now.
As a student, how are you dealing with all the attention that you are getting right now?
I have only received attention on social media till now due to the lockdown. I used to wear a mask all the time even before COVID due to my dust allergy. So, no one has really come up to me asking for a selfie and I haven't received that kind of attention yet. Maybe, I'll be able to answer this question better once the lockdown ends.