Starstruck: With 2 million followers on Instagram, Prajakta Koli aka Mostly Sane makes her acting debut with the short film Khayali Pulav
Prajakta Koli is one of India’s leading YouTube personalities, who goes by the name ‘Mostly Sane’ on her channel.
Loved by youth across the nation for her relatable content, videos with strong social messages, as well as humorous short skits, she connects with her viewers instantly and motivates and inspires them too.
With over 5.5 million subscribers on YouTube and over 2 million followers on Instagram, Prajakta is known to always keep it real.
Most recently she made her acting debut for the short film 'Khayali Pulav' directed by Tarun Dudeja, which is based on the story of a 17-year-old small town girl named Asha from Haryana who wants to pursue a vocation in sports.
The film explores Asha's struggles as an amateur handball enthusiast and her triumph in breaking stereotypes and traditional archetypes associated with women.
Set against Haryana’s rural landscape, the film was shot over two days in the remote village of Majri in Jhajjar district and its duration is 24 minutes.
Film and theatre actor Yashpal Sharma who has acted in films like Lagaan, Ab Tak Chappan, Gangs of Wasseypur, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, Gangajal to his credit, plays the lead male protagonist of the film essaying the role of a sports teacher who further leverages Koli’s on-screen depiction.
Well-known casting director Mukesh Chhabra, who also marks his directorial debut with late Sushant Singh Rajput’s last film Dil Bechara, has helmed the casting while Manoj Kumar Khatoi of Jawaani Janeman, Notebook, Mitron, Budhia Singh Born to Run fame is the director of photography of the film.
In an exclusive interview with YS Weekender, Prajakta Koli talks about how she became a content creator, her influences in the artistic world, and her recent acting debut in the short film Khayali Pulav.
YSW: You recently made your acting debut in the short film ‘Khayali Pulav’ directed by Tarun Dudeja. What was the experience like?
PK: It was such a wonderful experience.
This was a film I wanted to do since the first narration I had with Tarun. I was hooked to Asha’s story and felt her story needed to be told. I feel blessed to have co-stars whose body of work speaks for itself.
Yashpal Sharma Sir who played Kharab Sir has worked in iconic films like Lagaan, Gangajal and Gangs of Wasseypur amongst more. Geeta ma’am too, who played my mother, is a well-known theatre actor.
Prajakta as protagonist Asha in Khayali Pulav.
YSW: Was performing and being in front of the camera something that came naturally to you since an early age?
PK: I was always into performing since a very young age and was that kid who always loved performing on stage. In college I was part of a Marathi theatre group as well and was keen on participating in college festivals.
Performing has been something Prajakta has always had a passion for.
YSW: Can you tell us about your undergraduate studies and how you ventured into making YouTube videos on your popular channel Mostly Sane?
PK: I did my Bachelors in arts – majoring in Mass Media. My dream was to always be a radio jockey and I focused all my energy towards attaining that dream.
I was also fortunate to get an internship at a radio station in Mumbai and subsequently get a show on air. However, the medium was nothing like what I had hoped it would be and my passion started to wane.
It was during this time I met Sudeep from One Digital Entertainment who saw me make a video with Hrithik Roshan which he thought was funny. Initially, I was a bit worried whether I should take this forward as it was very new to me but after a lot of contemplation, I gave in and released my first video on 12th February 2015 and luckily there has been no looking back ever since.
YSW: What are some of your personal favourite videos on your channel and why these in specific?
PK: Some of the videos that I am fond of are Things I do When I Am Alone, Shameless, No Offence, People in College Canteens, Types of Rickshaw Passengers just to name a few.
Prajakta goes by the nickname 'Mostly Sane' on her YouTube Channel and Instagram handle.
YSW: Who are some of your early inspirations, actors, singers, filmmakers, influencers, writers and who are they now?
PK: My biggest inspiration has been my parents, seeing them work hard and hustle through life is what inspired me since a very early age and made me realise the importance of working hard.
Growing up I have been awed by Ellen DeGeneres and how gracious she is and the level of energy she brings. I am also inspired by Barack and Michelle Obama, who truly are world leaders and having had the privilege of interacting with them has just reiterated that. They are the most humble and inspiring personalities.
YSW: Tell us a little bit about the film, and your character Asha.
PK: The film is about a teenage girl from a small village in Haryana who wants to get into the local girls’ school’s handball team. The film addresses the concept of empowerment at the grassroot level and I essay this character of Asha who is a class topper and has dreams and desires that their patriarchal society would not allow!
YSW: Since the film's major themes touch upon women empowerment, inevitability of freedom of choice, banishment of archaic prejudices and the importance of street hustle, what does being empowered in today’s society mean to you?
PK: Personally, for me empowerment means being able to take my own decisions and being responsible for them. A few instances of being empowered would entail being able to freely speak my mind and having the support of my family in whatever I do.
Asha aspires to make it big in sports.
YSW: What was the feeling like to be invited by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for their annual Goalkeepers Summit? And most recently, participate in the 24-hour live stream by Call to Unite and Room to read in order to support children’s education during the lockdown?
PK: I have always believed in using my channel to bring about positive change in society.
From an early stage I have used my social media platforms to talk about body image issues, hate speech and the education of girls among other things.
It feels very nice to be part of these events wherein you get to have a healthy dialogue and have exchange of ideas with people from all over the globe. It just helps broaden the perspective on any given topic.
YSW: What is your message to fans struggling with the COVID-19 lockdown and pandemic?
PK: These are unprecedented times that we are living in where being cooped indoors for a lengthy period can start affecting anyone.
What I usually do is keep myself engaged in things that I like doing and taking up new hobbies. I also ensure that I keep in touch with friends and regularly talk to them or my parents about any issues and difficulties I might be facing.
YSW: Do you hope to be a part of more short films in the future, or see yourself partaking in feature length films?
PK: I definitely want to take up such new experiences. Doing things that have been outside my comfort zone has always appealed to me, which is why I took this film up as well.
If such opportunities come my way, I would be open to them for sure. At the moment I am focused on creating digital videos.
YSW: What is your advice to others wishing to be social media influencers, and some key learnings from your own journey?
PK: The biggest advice I would give to anyone who is starting their journey is to trust the process. Things will happen if you keep focused on your goal and are patient. Things do not happen overnight but perseverance pays off!
Your content is king so focus on that and be consistent with your content.
YSW: Who would you most like to collaborate or work with in the future?
PK: Ellen DeGeneres is someone I would like to collaborate with. She is someone I have always been inspired by and I hope I can do something with her soon!
YSW: What are your future plans? Are you currently working on an exciting project?
PK: There are a few things lined up however I cannot comment on them at this stage. Everything is super exciting and can’t wait for everyone to see it. Apart from that, I am focused on building my digital community and putting out videos that can entertain the audience.
YSW: What do you enjoy doing most on the weekend during your free time?
PK: I am an avid reader, so I try to read as many books as possible. and most of my free time is dedicated to reading books. I have also started learning the ukulele so learning to strum that musical instrument is a new hobby. I also enjoy spending time with my parents and catching up with my friends.