Twenty-year-old Saloni Gaur's character Nazma aapi is the latest Internet sensation, making users on Facebook and Instagram laugh, with her quirky takes on contemporary issues such as the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Indian economy. Gaur speaks to Outlook and sheds more light on her character Nazma aapi in this interview.
Here are the excerpts:
Who is Nazma Aapi?
Nazma is my character’s name. Friends in college are all fascinated by my videos. But I have never been mobbed in any public place because whenever I go out, I wear a mask since I am allergic to dust. Hence nobody can identify me.
Why did you choose this name Nazma as your character name?
Two years ago, on the occasion of Eid, I decided to upload something on Instagram. So, my brother and I sat down and we thought of Nazma to be my character's name. Aapi means sister. And that’s how the name Nazma aapi was born. I played different characters and my other character names were Aasha Behenji, Kusum Behenji, Pinky Dogra and also Kim Card Sharma.
Now, why does Nazma talk about the Indian government and present economic salutation or the JNU? The character that I play on Instagram is a woman, who may not be highly educated, but is aware of what is happening around her. So, if I had to talk about CAA, I cannot make Kusum Behenji and Aasha Behenji, my two other characters to talk about it. They are generally talking about their husbands, children, their studies and other family issues.
What made you do videos on current topics?
I have done videos on different things. First, I started doing videos on Pinky Dogra as the character, which didn’t do well. Pinky was my first character. Then I came up with two characters Kusum Behenji and Aasha Behenji and then came Nazma. Now, I am working on Kim Card Sharma, which is a parody of Kim Kardashian. I want to do more of her.
In your latest video, you are talking as Nazma only, why so? Was it because Aasha Behenji and Kusum Behenji didn’t get so popular?
I was posting my videos with different characters. Last November, I posted a video of Nazma Aapi because I speak on current issues with Nazma’s character. In the last few months, a lot of things have happened around us and they needed to be addressed. It's only Nazma, who can do it. Right now, I am concentrating primarily on current issues. My audience also wants to see more of Nazma and not Kusum or Aasha.
This character called Salma always pops up in the Salma videos. Who is she?
When I posted my first video in November on pollution, it went viral. I was just joking with my friends that last night I was talking to Salma, and there was so much smog around me, that how Salma got vanished in the smog, I didn’t realize. That is how Salma character became popular along with Nazma in my videos.
On Instagram, you are very vocal about things around you, but how are you in real life?
I am a jolly person and I am happy in a small group of people. I like to mimic people. The video shows a completely different, bold personality, but I remember when visited my relatives, I wouldn't talk much. People assumed I was a shy person. They didn’t realize how observant I was.
How do your parents react? What do they think about your work?
My parents are very happy. They have seen me since childhood and how I loved mimicking others. They are happy that my videos are becoming so popular. They are quite supportive.
What do plan to do next?
I have a full semester left. But I want to continue with my videos and probably take up stand-up comedy. Let’s see how things shape up.