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Why Most Indians Relate To Dharna Durga? Hear From Creator Herself

In this exclusive interview with SheThePeople, content creator Dharna Durga takes us through her journey, from the college theatre to becoming a sensation on Instagram, blending creativity with the everyday essence of Indian life.

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Oshi Saxena
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Image Credit : Dharna Durga Instagram

On social media, where attention spans are fleeting and trends come and go, one name has managed to carve a lasting impression on the minds of millions: Dharna Durga. At the age of 23, she works through her creativity to make relatable content with authentic and hilarious portrayals of characters from everyday Indian life.

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As 2023 draws to a close, SheThePeople exclusively dives into the life and mind of digital sensation Dharna Durga, exploring the foundation of her success, the inspirations that drive her to write relatable characters, her battle with self-doubt, and the creative dreams that propel her forward.

From College Theater To Instagram Stardom

Dharna's journey began amidst the college lockdown, a time when emptiness birthed creativity. With a background in theatre, she began crafting videos with friends, unaware of the viral storm she was about to unleash.

I just wanted to act, and during the COVID pandemic, I wanted to do something productive, so I started making videos with my friends randomly, and one of them suggested that I should post them because they were funny. Without any plan, I uploaded my first IGTV video and kept making more as the views kept coming. I think that's how it all began. 

The transition from an amateur video maker to an Instagram sensation was a gradual revelation, marked by the surge in views and the realization that something extraordinary was unfolding.

The randomness of her beginnings resonates in her statement, "I think Dharna before and Dharna after are almost the same." There was no grand plan; it was an organic evolution. The theatre background in college equipped her with the power of observation, a skill she later used to breathe life into different characters.

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The Art Of Relatability

As her content gained traction, Dharna realized the need to breathe life into diverse characters. Drawing inspiration from everyday scenarios, she perfected the art of reliability. Dharna acknowledges the influence of her surroundings in crafting relatable content. "There is a shop owner, someone is doing something. A movie is going on and there are all small characters in it. So I think by picking from there, I try to find something relatable," she explains.

She perceives the world as a stage with myriad characters, mirroring the intricacies of daily life.  Her authenticity and ability to find humour in the mundane created a nostalgic connection through her content, making her a household name.

1 Million Followers: A Milestone Of Self-Confidence

The journey from a girl making random videos to amassing a million followers has been transformative. Dharna shares, "Like the girl who started making videos randomly and is now standing tall with 1 million followers. I think a lot of self-confidence has filled inside me." This milestone marks not just a numerical achievement but a profound impact on her self-perception. "And I think one lesson, one achievement, that I will tell you about this year is that I have not hated myself this year," she reveals.

From random videos to gracing magazine covers and winning awards, it has been overwhelming but transformative for Dharna. Amidst the whirlwind, the self-doubt that lingered in the early days has significantly diminished.

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Balancing Act: Content Creation And Mental Health

Content creation in the digital age is a demanding task, often requiring a constant stream of ideas. Dharna acknowledges the 24x7 nature of this creative process. "Your brain will constantly look for content wherever you are," she remarks. Dharna admits, "In the beginning, I think it's a task because you don't understand that it's not a fixed time like a normal job that you have to close the laptop and the work is done." However, she finds solace in the joy derived from her work. "So, at the end of the day, till the time I like to do that work, that is something I love. I feel that pressure automatically goes away when you upload a video and people like it."

Balancing the demands of content creation with mental well-being is a delicate dance that Dharna navigates with the support of her family.

Overcoming Speed Breakers

Every journey encounters speed breakers, and Dharna's path was no exception. She faced a significant challenge when her family was struck by COVID-19 during the peak of her video hits.  Balancing personal grief with the demand to continue creating lighthearted content proved to be a herculean task. "I think at the beginning of this journey, when my videos were just peak-hitting, our family was infected with COVID-19. At that time, it was very difficult to come out of this, or sometimes you feel like you have lost your old self and you won't be able to speak. How will you go in that mood?" 

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In this line of work, if you are playing a role, it's important to separate your real life from the character you are portraying. No matter what happened with you today, when you are no longer playing that character, you must set aside any real-life emotions and focus on your role. I am not Dharna anymore. I'm this shopkeeper who's sitting in a shop and you know, he's doing his own thing. So, this was a point where it became difficult for me to apply where I have to forget what was happening to me in my personal life and I have to go into character.

Navigating the thin line between personal and professional spheres, Dharna grappled with the need to disentangle herself from the character and the realities of her personal life became a profound challenge.

I came and went 2-3 times before realizing that I didn't want to leave my work anymore. Even though I'm not as regular as before in uploading videos, I don't give up easily.  During that time, I didn't use Instagram, and I regretted it when people sent me DMs. I felt like I wasn't doing what I wanted to do. However, I knew that this was the work I wanted to do for my life, so I kept going. It took me some time to get used to it, but I eventually did.

The Supportive Comedy Community

Entering the realm of content creation, Dharna harboured reservations about the reception from fellow creators. However, the reality proved to be heartening, with an outpouring of support from the comedy community. "I took a very negative approach in the beginning and I don't know if anyone will support me after seeing a new creator. But it didn't happen to me. And the fellow creators were very supportive," Dharna acknowledges. The camaraderie within the community, marked by shout-outs and shared stories, played a pivotal role in easing her initial apprehensions.

The Constant Battle With Self-Doubt

Even amidst the accolades and adoration, Dharna grapples with an ever-present companion: self-doubt. "I tend to overthink things a lot. Sometimes I feel like I'm my own worst enemy because I'm very critical of myself," she confesses, revealing the inner turmoil that often accompanies her creative process. The journey from a college student filled with self-doubt to a digital sensation has been transformative, yet the vestiges of uncertainty linger. "I used to have less faith in myself, at least till college...Even now, I still struggle with self-doubt from time to time. It's not an easy thing to overcome, and I'm still in the process of overcoming it," Dharna candidly shares.

The process of self-acceptance is ongoing and marked by moments of clarity and comfort with herself. "I am still in the process of accepting myself. So, I feel that my self-doubt has reduced a little bit," she reveals, emphasizing the normalcy of occasional self-questioning.

The Big Screen Dream

Amidst the reels and laughter, Dharna harbours a profound dream: to grace the silver screen and share the joy with her family. "Yes, my goal is that I have to come on the big screen and show my mom my movie. And this is my target. I think this is the start. And this video is a path to reach there," Dharna declares, envisioning a future where her comedic prowess extends to cinematic storytelling.

The dream is not merely a destination but a journey, as Dharna envisions a dual existence‚ÄĒcontinuing her digital endeavours while venturing into the world of Bollywood. "But yes, I never want to stop creating content. I will always do this. Always. Whether it is any platform, Instagram or YouTube. And that is mine, and I will do it," she affirms, highlighting her commitment to her roots.

A Message To Aspiring Women Content Creators

As a prominent female content creator, Dharna acknowledges the challenges but encourages aspiring creators to forge ahead without succumbing to fear. She emphasizes the importance of self-belief, urging them to focus on their art and not be deterred by external judgments.

Don't let fear overtake your mind. If we start anything with fear, we always have double thoughts and doubts. I don't know how people will take this; they will say I am not funny. I think you should have faith in yourself, in your art, and just see that whatever I am doing, I know that I am giving my 100% in it.

Dharna's Prescription For A Bad Day

In Dharna's signature style, she imparts a prescription for navigating tough days. She advocates trusting oneself, filtering out external noise, and persevering through the creative journey. "So, I want to tell you that if you feel that you are doing it, like I said, it is difficult to get that belief in the beginning. But keep doing it and if you know that you are giving your 100% and you are true to your art, don't listen to anyone and keep doing it."

Content Creators instagram creators Dharna Durga
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