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Meet these over-50 Indian influencers who are redefining what ‘old’ means

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Defying the notion that blogging is for young blood, the newer voices among social media influencers are above 50

Be it putting out their latest dance videos or sharing their family’s well-preserved recipes, these older Instagrammers and YouTubers are proving that influencing has no age limit. Meet a few over-50 Indian influencers who are proving ‘old’ is not what it used to be. They are here and they are slaying.

Ravi Bala Sharma

Ravi Bala Sharma, 62

@ravi.bala.sharma on Instagram (115K)

Ravi Bala Sharma first performed on a stage five years ago at a senior citizen dance competition, to fulfil her late husband’s last wish. The appreciation for that performance made her a regular at that competition until last year when the organisers decided to conduct it virtually due to the pandemic. The video that Ravi Bala sent for the competition was shared by the organisers and it went viral.

This prompted the former music teacher to start her Instagram page six months ago. Among her appreciators are the likes of Diljit Dosanjh and filmmaker Imtiaz Ali who have shared videos of her performance. She regularly posts videos of her performances on new Bollywood numbers and also retro songs.

“Kathak was always a part of me. I would perform at weddings and family functions. But over the years, I got caught up with the daily routine and gave it up until 2015 when my husband, who was then battling cancer, insisted that I participate in a dance competition. Though he passed away before the competition, I performed to pay tribute to him. It was only during lockdown that I started with my Instagram account and put up my dance videos. The response to it was overwhelming as people appreciated my never-say-die attitude at this age,” she says.

It was a video of Ravi Bala doing the bhangra that was shared by Diljit Dosanjh which made her account famous and added to her follower count. “For me, the follower count is just the number of people who love and appreciate my art. I try to put out videos regularly with the help of my son who edits them for me.”

Dinesh Mohan

Dinesh Mohan, 61

@dinesh.mohan.58 on Instagram (151K)

If you thought that modelling and the fashion industry was bound by ageism, then a scroll through Dinesh Mohan’s Instagram account will prove you wrong. The 61-year-old model has been a part of several photoshoots and ramp walks. His Instagram account, with a following of over 1.5 lakh, is not only an outlet to post his work but also documents his incredible journey of fighting his eating disorder and becoming fitter.

“A decade ago I was ill, bedridden and weighed 130 kilograms. I was fed up with seeing myself in that state, so in 2014 I decided to work on it and joined the gym. The aim was not just to lose weight but to also look after my health and skin,” says the former employee of Haryana’s Education Department. His modelling career took off in 2016 and since then he has appeared in photoshoots and Punjabi music videos. “Since the time I started working as a model, I have posted my work on Instagram. That was my way of connecting to people. Most of my followers are between the age of 18 to 35 and think of me as an inspiration. I have been told that I am the reason they believe it is never too late to start something new, and I am flattered hearing that,” he laughs.

While there is a lot of love and appreciation for his work on Instagram, there is also trolling. How does he deal with that? “I don’t take them too seriously. Only I know the kind of journey I have been through to reach here, so it doesn’t matter if they think I’m too old to be a model or I should rather be home reading books. They like it or not, this is what I enjoy doing and I’ll continue to do so.”

Dr Anjali Kumar

Dr Anjali Kumar, 55 years

Maitri, on YouTube (142K)

Had it not been the pandemic-induced slowdown in her routine, Dr Anjali Kumar would probably have taken longer to launch ‘Maitri’, her YouTube channel that talks about women’s health issues and hygiene care products in the market. Having pondered upon this idea for long, Dr Anjali finally executed it in July 2020 and has gained over 1.4 lakh subscribers in five months.

“There is a lot of information about women’s health on the Internet but there is misinformation too. So in the sea of confusion, I wanted to start an account that stands for credibility and explains difficult health issues in simple terms,” says the gynaecologist who has been in practice for over 30 years.

Apart from YouTube her content is available on her Instagram handle @maitriwoman where she frequently uploads videos under the hashtag ‘Maitricares’. The channel features 23 videos about PCOS, breast cancer and self-examination, and over-the-counter products like birth control pills, ovulation kit, contraceptive pills and usage of menstrual cups.

“It may look like these are very simple things to make videos about but when you receive comments from people across the country and at times neighbouring ones like Pakistan and Bangladesh saying this information was extremely helpful, you know there is a need for a medical practitioner to speak about this,” says Dr Anjali. She plans to launch a series on pregnancy soon.

Padma Balasubramanian

Padma Balasubramanian, 60 years

@padmabalasubramanian on Instagram (34.4K)

When Padma Balasubramanian made her Instagram account in 2015, it was just to share the pictures of dishes that she cooked at home. Every day, she posted the food that was made for lunch and dinner. In no time, she had strangers appreciating the dishes she made, and reaching out to her to know the recipes. And soon she was blogging about the family recipes that she had inherited from her mother-in-law and her grandmother.

“Till date, I post those things that I cook, and don’t cook to post on my Instagram,” says the resident of Chennai.

Through 1700 posts she has shared 400 recipes from Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and Punjabi cuisine. “My husband and I lived in Libya for a long time due to work and that is where I picked up these recipes from friends and neighbours. Bisi belle bhat from Karnataka and mambazha pulissery from Kerala is dearly loved in my household and hence make a frequent appearance on my page,” she says.

It was her rasam recipes like Vendaya Kuzhambu, Morkeerai and Milagu Kuzhambu that got her more followers. “These are the rasams that my family has been making for decades and we generally use regular ingredients that are easily available in the market. Apart from the rasams the recipes of Poondu Kuzhambu (garlic curry), beetroot raita and pulao that were widely shared,” she adds.

Her simple recipes garnered more attention during the lockdown when more people started experimenting in their kitchens. “Due to the circumstances, fancy food was not available and people had to make do with whatever was easily accessible in the supermarkets, that is when many found my recipes useful. My following increased in thousands during the months of lockdown. First-time cooks were messaging me with their doubts and several people sent me pictures of their versions of my recipes,” says Padma.

What she loves the most about blogging? “The fact that recipes and traditions are no longer constrained to a specific location and people from anywhere can embrace them. It is so lovely to see people of different nationalities trying their hand at my family dishes,” she laughs.

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