Published: 21st April 2021
Life in the Vlogging lane: How Vishakha Fulsunge accelerated through the glass ceiling to become India's first female motovlogger
We chat with Vishakha Fulsunge AKA RiderGirl Vishakha, who is India's first female motovlogger and has over eight lakh YouTube subscribers
Vishakha Fulsunge is an inspiration in more ways than one. Apart from riding a bike across the country, Vishakha also vlogs about it. She has taken her bike to some of the countries toughest terrains — from the rugged mountains of Ladakh to the sand dunes of Jaisalmer. And it's all there to see on her YouTube channel, RiderGirl Vishakha. She was the first female motovlogger in India when she began shooting videos of her riding a bike in 2017. Four years, two records in the India Book of Records and over eight lakh YouTube subscribers later, Vishakha has managed to inspire countless others, men and women alike, to ride a bike cross-country and even vlog about it. Not just that, the 27-year-old Mumbai-based YouTuber is now teaching girls to motovlog.
We chat with the feisty biker about her love for bikes, her motovlogging journey and what keeps her going. Excerpts from a fun chat:
1. When did you learn how to ride a bike?
My love for two-wheelers began as a child when I wanted a BMX cycle. When I asked my father for a cycle, he got one meant for ladies that has a V-type structure. My friends in the colony had BMX bikes, but he got me this one instead. That is how it all began, with me wanting a BMX bike. When I finally got it, I started doing stunts on it.
Pic: Vishakha Fulsunge
2. What drew you to bikes? Which one is your favourite?
When I was a kid, I used to love riding on the front seat of my father's motorcycle. It was easy to sit in the front as my father built a special seat for me so that I could sit comfortably and enjoy the breeze. He would keep his hands over mine on the controls and let me feel like I was riding it. He eventually let me throttle as I grew older. The feeling of sitting in the front and having complete independence was incredible. This is how my passion for bikes developed. The Pulsar 220 is my all-time favourite bike. I'd like to purchase a ZX-10R superbike too.
3. How did you start motovlogging?
When I was in Class 11, I wanted to be a doctor — a dentist or a gynaecologist. Then, I even considered being a pilot, but we didn't have the financial means to do so. After completing my BBA and MBA, I decided that I wanted to work with bikes. In the three months it took to receive my MBA, I had changed eight jobs. When I Googled 'how to work with bikes', all I could find was pizza delivery work. After some research, I came across something called motovlogging that international riders do. They were uploading it on YouTube and earning money through that. It took me three years to start making money from that. Vlogging was never a job for me. It was only a hobby. But, somehow, I managed to turn it into one and worked hard for it. Now, it is my full-time job.
4. What were some of the challenges you faced while motovlogging?
To begin with, I was a female in a male-dominated society that had never expected a girl to come in. They started trolling me, claiming that I was India's first self-proclaimed female motovlogger. I had to put in a lot of effort and I wanted the title to be well-known. Then, I pitched it to the India Book of Records, who researched and discovered that no girl in India does motovlogging. That's how I got my title. But to do motovlogging, you need the right gear, the right bike and the right camera. The helmet and jacket cost around Rs 25,000 and the bike cost Rs 3,00,000. My mother helped me get it. She sold her jewellery for the loan down payment while I did events during college to earn money for the EMI.
Pic: Vishakha Fulsunge
5. How does it feel to be the first female motovlogger? Did you face any discrimination?
Now that I have the title of being India's first female motovlogger, I feel proud to represent India. We have an annual international female motovloggers meet online, where I represent India. A lot of people DM me saying that they admire me and how I inspired them to start motovlogging.
6. How would people usually react to you riding a bike and vlogging?
I get mixed responses. People looked at me weirdly at first because I was always roaming around on my bike, speaking to the camera. However, they now appreciate me when they see me riding a bike and going on solo rides across India and gaining more subscribers on YouTube. Now, people come up to me and tell me that they watch my videos. It is not just people of my age but also kids and elders. I've encountered so many people while on the road, particularly during my Narmada Parikrama-Uttarakhand trip. People are starting to embrace the fact that girls can also ride bikes.
7. Can you share something interesting from your motovlogging journey?
When I went to Lonavala, I had only been motovlogging for six months. I had parked my Duke 390cc bike near a bridge and there were some boys nearby. The bike was fully customised. So when they saw it, they exclaimed, "Wow, what a bike!" and "What a cool dude on a Duke!". I removed my helmet and after a few moments, one of the boys said, "Oh! That's not a dude on the Duke." I burst out laughing. I asked them why they assumed I was a guy and they said that riding a Duke 390cc bike is a task.
8. Do you think the motovlogging scene has improved in India since you started? Do you feel that you and others like you have made a difference?
Yes, the motovlogging scene in India has changed. I've noticed a lot of young men and women who have started motovlogging. When I first started, there were just a few names, but now, if you search for motovlogging on YouTube, you can find a plethora of results. I can see a big difference now and I'd like to thank all of the motovloggers who started and never stopped. As a result, this has now become a career option as well.