The Sun (Malaysia)
Just being herself
> Nandini Balakrishnan is going against convention and breaking all the rules of what makes a video star
video which went viral earlier this year.
“It was like an angry rant!” she says with a laugh.
But netizens of all races took notice of what she has to say about genetics and discrimination. Nandini explains that the video came about from a discussion with her boss who let her take control of the content she wanted to create. “I have always wanted to talk to her about skin colour. I had actually pitched the idea to her [several times] over the past couple of years.”
The idea was initially turned down when it was pitched as an article, as it is a topic Nandini fully understands “many people wouldn’t care to read about”.
“But it was always at the back of my mind, and when I was allowed to do what I wanted, I felt [the topic] was a good start.
“Skin [colour] is something I really think everyone has to deal with, not just dark-skinned people. Even if you [have a fair complexion], you could be penalised for it, and people have a million things [to say] about it.
“I felt this was a topic that people could connect with.”
5 Reasons Why You Should Never Comment on People’s Skin Colour hit a million views in less that 24 hours, a result which surprised not only Nandini, but her boss as well.
That put Nandini on the map, and her subsequent videos, where she combined facts with humour, were equally well received.
However, there is more to Nandini than just being a video star. She is also a writer, and even writes video scripts for Says.
“I started off as a writer for Says,” she says. “I was covering a lot of news and analyses and oneon-one interviews. I was writing about politics and marginalised communities. I loved doing all those pieces.”
She says she noted that the Says readers were mostly people in their 20s and 30s, and realised that they probably would not pay attention to topics that were too heavy, or that they felt were irrelevant to their lives.
“That is when I decided to diversify the way I presented my information,” Nandini explains.
“One thing led to another, and I was asked to focus on video, [as video was the way of] the future and all. We used to be called ‘the site with the viral videos’. We have grown a lot over the past few years.”
Nandini is now learning how to produce her own videos, as well as mastering the art of injecting the right amount of humour into serious topics.
“The idea here is to make Malaysians listen to a serious topic that they usually would not pay attention to.
“That is where the humour and [exaggerated Indian] accent [is utilised], to at least get people interested and to stir up a conversation.
“That is where I come in. Not to change the world, or change how they think, but at least have them talk about it.”
She eventually hopes to expand on her current format, and talk about more topics that interest her.
For now, she is doing videos full time, although she did write a couple of long articles during the election campaign period. She also did videos on voting, as well as animations and voice-overs.
Meanwhile, her video star status does get her recognised in public on occasion.
Does she see herself as a spokesperson, or still the regular girl-next-door?
“People do not pay attention to people who look like me. That is the truth. What I have to say is valued a lot less, simply because of the way I look.
“Having that tiny group of people who want to know what Nandini thinks is pretty interesting. I won’t call myself a spokesperson, that is a huge word with a lot of impact.
“I may or may not get there. It may change people’s opinion of what a regular Indian girl is supposed to be in this country.”