“Punjab di kudi now in foreign,” reads her Instagram bio, but she later clarifies, “not Canada”, for the lot who were just about to crack jokes on it, just by reading the first half of the sentence. If you are an avid social media user, who is up-to-date with all the trends and know the names of the cool Instagram influencers like they are your neighbours, you have probably guessed who we are talking about. The ‘desi’ girl in ‘pardes’, Ruhee Dosani, who rose to fame during the pandemic with her quirky reels on Bollywood songs.
We caught up with Ruhee when she was in Dubai and had a long, candid conversation on her Instagram content creation journey. Despite giving us hilarious Reels on iconic Bollywood songs, she expressed no desire to join the industry but very enthusiastically told us about her love for Ranveer Singh and how much she enjoys watching DeepVeer on screen together. Lucky for her, 83 had just been released then. Here are excerpts from the interview:
Take us through your ideation process.
I go on a drive, I think about a song and start visualizing the concept and how I’m going to shoot it and then I do it with my friends. I just tell them to come up with a step on the spot, whatever they are comfortable with, and try to make it look Indian. So that’s how it comes about- we meet up and I play the music around 10 to 20 times and do random stuff.
You being an Indian, can easily relate to these Bollywood songs. How do your non-Indian friends relate to that emotion?
I literally have to sit and explain to them what they are thinking. If I need expressions or close up shots of them, I have to explain and give them a situation to which they can react. And I feel like they’re getting so used to it. They somewhat understand what is going on, feel the beats and just get along with it. Explaining the entire scenario to them helps because if I’m just making them dance to a random song and they don’t understand, that won’t be healthy. And it won’t show that they are having fun.
You work with a very diverse group of people. Do you feel that there is gender or race-based discrimination in the digital content creation world?
I personally haven’t faced anything like that. But everybody has their opinion and it’s on me if I had to react to it or not. I look at the positive side of it. For example, my friends are learning a lot about my culture. They know so many festivals and celebrate Indian festivals as well.
What is the most challenging thing you faced in your journey that you did not anticipate at all?
In the beginning, I didn’t know that it gets more difficult to think and come up with certain things. After a point, people are expecting something. But I have realized and accepted that not every time you will have something great. You just get comfortable and used to what you do. It is difficult and there are a lot of creative blocks I feel. There have been days and months where I felt like that. And I’ve never taken a break from something in my life. Plus, I have a full-time job. So it’s a lot to handle. It looks easy, but it’s not because you have to keep going and keep up with somebody’s expectations.
So what has been one of the major highlights of your content creation career so far?
It happened so suddenly like all the celebs knowing about me, messaging me and following me – that was IT for me. Because I did not expect the love and support. So when I had started out, every day felt new and I’m so thankful for that. Now I know all of this but back in the day I had no idea what was going on and didn’t even know about this field. But engaging with people who you used to watch on the screen is a different feeling.
With so many Instagram influencers and content creators out there, how can one stand out?
It’s a very cliche answer, but being yourself definitely works. But it is different for me because if it was coming from a point where I wanted to be a content creator, it would have been very difficult. I just was myself from the start and thought that people are going to love me for who I am and I don’t have to change or try too hard. Being yourself is extremely important because when you try to like copy someone it doesn’t work. So being yourself is the number one thing I really like to put out there.
After making content on Bollywood songs, do you feel like entering the industry and working there?
I am not really into the Hindi film industry. I love the music and live for the music. Making music videos? Yes. But definitely not looking forward. However, if I have an opportunity I will give it a shot because I always give everything a shot. And if it works out, it works out. It is not like I want to be an actor because I know how to act in front of the camera sometimes.
Who are your favourites in Bollywood?
I watch a lot of classics, like the ones of Anil Kapoor and Govinda – the legends. Talking of the current generation, everybody knows I love Ranveer Singh. From his dressing to his acting skills – I love everything he does. And out of actresses, Deepika (Padukone), of course. Even when I am in the states, I watch them. I love when they are on the same scene. I am planning to go to a theatre and watch ’83.
Do you feel pressured about the content you’re putting out on social media because you have a huge follower base who look up to you?
Definitely. Sometimes I used to say things without thinking but with so many people watching me I feel like I just can’t do everything. As I said, people’s expectations are too much. You can’t sit back and chill out because they are following you for a reason. But if you just forget about the numbers, the algorithm for a while and put out what you like, then I feel it will take you somewhere. I’ve done it and it did bother me in the middle. To keep the audience engaged, you have to try out things and meet their expectations. So there is pressure but I love it because the outcome is amazing, the response is amazing. So it helps to keep me creative.
Do you feel that being an NRI dancing to Bollywood songs help while catering to the Indian audience? Is it easier to get noticed like that?
Who NRI? (laughs)
I’m very Indian. I’ve lived in Mumbai for like good 14 years. I won’t even say it’s easier to get noticed because I used to do Instagram and had like 10,000 followers until last year but I didn’t get noticed until the pandemic hit. I feel like I caught on to something. People see my videos and think I am in India. But I don’t think they care about my location. I am extremely desi, NRI is just on the passport. Dil is always Hindustani.
How do you think this video creating journey this content kidding journey has changed you as a human being last one-and-a-half years?
It has made me more humble and caring. I have started appreciating people more and valuing time. All these are cliche stuff but these are important. I have also become extremely health conscious and I am meditating. I have started following what I used to follow when I was a kid.
How do your parents react when they see your videos?
I send my mom every video before I post it and she gives her inputs and maybe asks me to change a thing or two. Otherwise, she loves it and enjoys it. She will always tell me what to fix right away. But she loves everything I do so I sometimes doubt that and ask her are you sure this is okay or you are saying this because I am your daughter? She especially loved my transition video, where I wore a saree and said that she is happy Instagram is making me do such things.
My brother, on the other hand, pinpoints everything and keeps saying that you could have done this, you could have done that. I get mad at him sometimes. (laughs)
Anything else you would like to say to our readers?
It’s been an amazing year. I just want them (the readers and her fans) to know that I am thankful for all the love and support. We literally had two difficult years of the pandemic. So thank you for sticking around and if we have been through this then we can go through anything. So just stay happy and stay positive. It’s difficult but I’m here if you want to talk.