From a saucy Mita Aunty to a Bengali Scarlet Witch, Niranjan M, or Instagram’s @laughtersane has played it all. The digital content creator has earned many brownie points for his comedy, as well as his flawless make-up.
At the moment, Niranjan has more than 100,000 subscribers on YouTube and more than 350,000 followers on Facebook. His recent Instagram reel, parodying every ’90s boro bou from Bengali commercial films, has earned a plethora of likes.
My Kolkata had a candid chat with the Instagram sensation to explore his creative process, his inspirations and his relationship with celebrity makeup artist Mainak Das.
You have been creating content on social media for a few years now. How did it all start?
I had never thought that content creation would end up being my profession. A few years back, I made a video on my phone, but didn’t share it on any social media platforms. I shared it with my friends and I realised that they actually loved my video.
At that time, I didn’t have the equipment that we usually need, be it lights or a camera. Soon after, I started creating videos properly, making content and uploading them on social media. A certain video went viral and that’s how the journey began.
Your content highlights the common idiosyncrasies of Bengalis…
I started noticing my mom, my neighbours and all the people I know, from 16-year-olds to 55 year-olds. Each community has its own sentiments and perspectives. So, when I pick up a theme, in my mind, it’s already a character and I know how to play it in front of the camera.
Honestly, I can tell you if you look around, there are so many characters. They can be your friends, parents, siblings or even your neighbourhood shopkeeper. I sit back and observe everyone around me.
I will say that the reactions and comments on my videos inspire me a lot. Everybody wants to be happy, so if my videos give them a few minutes of happiness in the rat race of life, then that’s an inspiration.
Tell us about your relationship with Kolkata
I was born and brought up here. For me, it’s a soulful city, a city of history, a city of tradition, with the heritage of the nawabs, the British and the French. This city has given me everything — my childhood, my love, my career. I can’t describe the feeling I get when I go on a vacation and leave this city behind. I start missing it after only a few days.
What is your creative process like?
I don’t follow a hard-and-fast rule. I remember a dialogue from Ritwik Ghatak’s movie Jukti Takko Aar Gappo, which said, “Bhabo bhabho, bhaba practice koro.” I think that it’s very important. I feel when you want to create a character or a story, the brief should already be in your mind when you are figuring out the dialogues.
Your makeup skills are excellent! How did you discover your love for expressing yourself through makeup?
Ever since I started making videos, I found an interest in makeup. But initially, I didn’t quite know how to do it properly. Then I met Mainak and now more than 90% of my makeup is done by him. I always feel the need for the right kind of makeup because I want all the female characters I play to look age-appropriate and realistic.
On Instagram, you put out a video that said, “Who says two men can’t grow a family?”. Tell us a little about your journey representing the LGBTQIA+ community on social media.
I just came out with my own orientation, but I don’t think of myself as a representative of the community in that sense. No one can force another person to accept these things, it happens with time. Things are changing slowly and hopefully, in the future, more people will be more accepting and let go of stereotypes.
Tell us a little about your relationship with Mainak?
When Mainak came into my life, I had nothing. My family was not beside me, I didn’t know if I could get a job or not. If Mainak hadn’t come into my life then, I don’t know what would have happened.
We never dated in the sense of the term. He let me stay in his home and gave me the space to grow and work on becoming a content creator. He told me not to get dragged into a 9-to-5 job and to always follow my dreams. We never proposed to each other and the bond grew on its own. One can neither restrict nor create these things.
You have a number of social media posts with the popular Miss Dutta. How did that friendship come to be?
We worked together on a project, around four years ago, where I met her for the first time. When I started living with Mainak, we decided to do a collaboration. I had initially thought it would be a work collaboration, but we realised that our frequencies match. Now, she is a good friend and our relationship goes beyond just our profession.
You were recently a part of a popular Hoichoi ad campaign. How did your followers react?
I think they loved my work and most importantly, it made the audience accept me. I feel they love me more now. I feel blessed.
Many people talk about how social media can become very mentally draining, do you feel that way?
At times, it can. It does get emotionally draining because this industry is often centred around flaunting things. The need to lead a fancy lifestyle can feel like pressure because this isn’t something everyone can afford. The concept of ‘simple living, high thinking,’ is only something you see on pen and paper. If you let it get to you, it can be a taxing affair.
What is the content creation avenue like for people looking to get into it?
There is no one formula. The content is yours, the script is yours and the acting is yours, so it’s all up to you.
Be patient, love your work and stick to it. Just do it and keep trying. It’s really about the viewers, so make videos from the bottom of your heart. Some day, your viewers will give you love.