We had the good fortune of connecting with Shiksha “Bollygirl” Mahtani and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shiksha “Bollygirl”, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Taking risks have played a major role in my career. Had I not taken risks, I wouldn’t be where I am today. After I graduated college, I got a full time job in a Forbes 500 company. The job looked so good on paper. I was doing really well and getting paid good money. The problem was that I was miserable. Deciding to quit my steady job and pursue a career in the arts was one of the hardest and riskiest things I have ever done. I had no clear path, nobody in my family knew how to guide me, but I knew it was what I wanted and so I went for it. Taking risks is never easy, in fact, it’s something I still struggle with till today: making hard decisions and betting on yourself. But ultimately, if you don’t believe that you can do it, why should anyone else, right? Looking back on all the risks I’ve taken, I can comfortably say that even though it is still hard, I have no regrets.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My ultimate goal is to help educate people on Desi culture and help inspire other Desis to be proud of where they come from. I chose to brand myself as “Bollygirl” on social media for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, I’m obsessed with Bollywood. Second, by choosing Bollywood as my niche, I suddenly had a way to pursue my own dreams, as well as a space that allowed me the versatility on how I chose to spread my message. For example, I make BollyChallenge dance videos, which have luckily been getting a lot of traction. The videos are basically side to side comparisons, where I dress up exactly like my favorite Bollywood actors, and replicate their dance moves shot for shot. I love finding DIY methods to recreate the outfits. It helps me show my audience that you really don’t need fancy clothes, jewelry or equipment to be a Bollywood star. You should take charge of your destiny and be the star of your own life. Nothing is impossible. Other than making my dance videos, I also host. I have my own Bollywood talk radio show (with Rukus Avenue Radio), and work for a prestigious online Indian digital magazine (Pinkvilla). With the help of these two platforms, I have gotten numerous opportunities to interview Bollywood stars as well as Indian influencers. My favorite aspect of hosting is learning how people got to where they are and the obstacles they have had to overcome. I find it inspiring, which then helps fuel me further. Overall, pursuing my passion has been incredibly challenging, but also very rewarding. I’ve learnt that ultimately, you have to listen to yourself. Getting advice from those around you is always a good idea, but you have to decide if you can take the leap. If you believe, eventually, so will everyone else.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Making a general itinerary is tough because everyone has different interests. My best friend is a major foodie, so when she comes to visit, we always go to fun and highly recommended food places. One of our favorites is the “Griddle Cafe” in Hollywood where you can get really large and really fancy pancakes. If you are craving pizza, I would have to recommend “786 Degrees” – their wood-fired pizza is to die for! And if you are a Selena fan, then you should go to “Donas” – a Mexican donut shop that sell glitter donuts! They are gorgeous to look at and delicious to eat. If I have a visitor who has never been to Los Angeles, and is looking to sight see, there are so many options. You should go to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, hike up to the Hollywood sign, go to Santa Monica pier, visit Venice Beach, and dine at The Grove.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
So many people deserve a shoutout, credit, and recognition in my story, starting with my parents and my sister. They have helped me tremendously over the years. They listen to me tirelessly and always advise me the best that they can on, well, everything! The three of them are my personal cheerleaders, and I am beyond lucky to have them. Beyond them, I’d have to give a shoutout to all of my teachers while growing up. I don’t think teachers get the recognition they deserve. Without every single one of them, helping shape me into who I am today, I simply wouldn’t be here.
Other: TIK TOK: @iambollygirl https://linktr.ee/iambollygirl
The main photo with water behind – Priyanka Nanwani @priyankananwani The photo in pink twirling – Credit: Greg Payton @lanocturnal The picture in the rain – Credit: Greg Payton @lanocturnal The pictures in beige, with the tree, and with scarf flying- Simran Mahtani The picture in india with buildings behind – unknown The picture of me dancing like the actress – taken by me with tripod and self timer