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Mithila Palkar on calling Internet her home and the art of logging out

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: May 19, 2019  | 17:13 IST

By Justin Rao Mumbai, May 19 (PTI) In 2016, when India's digital space was dominated by influential male stand-up comedians, a 23-year-old girl with a song on her lips and a cup as an instrument broke the Internet. From a viral video sensation, Mithila Palkar has now established herself as a celebrity - featuring in films, signing endorsements and becoming a reckoning name for everything digital. "Internet is my home. The place that gave me an identify, made me who I am. People know me because of the Internet," Mithila told PTI. With a plastic cup as a percussion instrument, Mithila uploaded her cup song, cover of the Marathi "Hi Chaal Turu Turu". The video exploded on the Internet and even caught Bollywood's attention, with names like Paresh Rawal, Imtiaz Ali and Swanand Kirkire sharing it too. The 26-year-old gives a "lot of the credit" to the time she started out as the industry was undergoing a change. "There are many options to explore one's skills as an artiste today, as compared to 10 years ago, when as an actor, Bollywood and TV were the only two strong options. This is truly the best time for an actor." Though she got her wider fame in 2016, much of her viral video work began in 2014. "That summer, I went to visit my sister. Since she used to work, I had time to kill so I learnt the four beat basic rhythm and recorded my first video. Two years later, on March 11 at nine in the night, I put this video up and my life changed." Coinciding with her new found popularity was the release of her digital show "Girl in the City", followed by the critically-acclaimed "Little Things", and her 2018 Hindi feature "Karwaan" alongside Irrfan Khan and Dulquer Salmaan. Mithila is among those rare internet sensations who have managed to cross over from a one-minute video to feature length films. Her ability to act can be perhaps traced to her childhood. She spent her growing up years with her parents in Vasai city before moving to Mumbai suburb Dadar to live with her grandparents when she was 10. Growing up in a "typical Maharashtrian household" meant performing in front of relatives, often impersonating her favourite hosts from reality shows, on the request of her grandmother. "But the first time I participated in a play and went on stage I was playing a student I thought this is where I want to be. But who would take a 12-year-old seriously? "Back then even my grandfather was extremely strict. I had a curfew of 7.30 PM for the longest time in my life. I would shiver the moment the clock struck 7 because he would be upset." Following in the footsteps of her sister, now a scientist, Mithila enrolled herself in the science stream but early on realised that her heart beats for the big screen. "Everyone wanted me to study science as 10 years ago there was a belief that you'll have more job prospects if study science than arts and commerce. But things changed when I graduated as a mass media student and volunteered with a theatre company for a festival. That was truly my entry from backstage to the front," she said. Today, the actor is gearing up for the release of her Netflix original drama "Chopsticks. Though she is thankful to the digital space for giving opportunity to artistes like her, she rubbishes the notion that Internet stars cannot detach themselves from the online medium. "I have learnt to switch off from that space. When I wake up, I don't check Internet at all. We tend to indulge too much into it, sometimes spending so much time in something so mindless." More than anything else, what Mithila does credit the Internet for, is connecting her grandfather with her work. "He has come around with what I do and is undoubtedly my biggest fan. He collects all my magazine, article cutouts. He is the kind of grandfather who shows off. From not being too enthusiastic about it initially to now, at the age of 92, learning how to use a smartphone to access YouTube and look for my work. Life has come a wonderful full circle," she said. PTI JUR RDS SHD SHD

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