India — Sejal Kumar’s first song, Aisi Hun, was an inspiring and motivating one, but her second release, Khali Khali, is a sweet, romantic, cute number played on the ukulele. Which came from the personal experience of sitting in silence with someone you love. “I thought about sitting khali khali with someone and the song was done on my balcony in 30 minutes. I sent it to my brother and friends and two weeks later, recorded it,” says the 26-year-old, who’s been singing and dancing since she was a kid. Asked what made her branch out to music and acting, Sejal says, “Fashion is my main content. But society, in general, tries to put people in a box. I thought, as a creative person, how could I do that to myself?”
But it’s not like it’s just a whim she blindly followed. She’s been taking vocal lessons from Delhi musician Smiti Malik and had competed in music competitions in school and a cappella gigs in college. “My biggest ECA (extra curricular activity) was my YouTube channel, which I started in the second year of my graduation in 2016,” she giggles.
Negative comments like ‘tumhe toh bas skin dikhana aata hai (you only know to show your skin)/who does she think she is?’ are aplenty and do hurt but it’s the trolls who are insecure, she says. “When your personality is attacked, you tend to change it. And good comments validate you. But you have to detach yourself from this kind of validation too.” The constant need to make each video better and increase numbers can be a toxic, anxious cycle, she adds.
Rather than constantly looking for people’s approval, she started meditating, which helps her focus on what makes her happy. And these days, she talks about her insecurities and anxieties on social media.
“When I started, I was the weird kid in college who was mocked and many even asked me how they could access YouTube. Today, the industry is thriving,” Sejal says, recalling her journey. She even had to pretend she had a corporate job so that people would not make such a fuss about her choice of career.
But how did she convince her parents? “I’m a nerd who did a whole lot of research and prepared an excel sheet, complete with a five-year projection,” she says, narrating how the effort impressed her parents. She even skipped college placements.
With a plan to continue this for seven-eight years, Sejal thinks it could even morph into another career! “Influencers are good at adapting to change because our jobs are on the Internet, which changes every day,” she signs off.