The most relatable thing about actor and YouTube star Neel Kolhatkar is the trajectory of his ambitions. Also Read - Indo-Australian Comedian Neel Kolhatkar Makes Waves on YouTube With Nonstop Laughter
“Every week I had a new ambition as a child,” Kolhatkar said. It is a statement many of us understand well—after all, can’t most of us say the same thing? Also Read - Vir Das Brings Highly Successful ‘Unbelievablish’ Comedy Tour to NYC
But unlike most people, Kolhatkar settled on his true passion relatively early in life. “Since I was a teenager, I have wanted to be a comedian and actor,” he explained. Also Read - Comedian Hasan Minhaj on 'Homecoming King' and the Power of Storytelling
The 21-year-old was born and raised in South East Sydney, Australia, where he continues to live. Kolhatkar’s acting career began when he was a teen acting in school productions and learning the art of improvisation.
Like many up-and-coming artists, Kolhatkar has taken his talents to a platform that gives performers total freedom over their craft: YouTube.
“I was always an actor and performer, and YouTube seemed like a very easily accessible medium for me to put my characters and myself out there,” Kolhatkar said.
Kolhatkar’s channel features short, humorous videos that have been created, written and produced by Kolhatkar himself. The topics covered in them range from parodies of young girls applying makeup to satirical takes on the concept of equality. With more than 200,000 subscribers on YouTube, Kolhatkar has certainly found a way to leverage YouTube as a tool to bolster his acting career.
“It was a very gradual process of firstly my friends sharing the videos and eventually, after a few viral hits, a following emerged and I have since built on that,” Kolhatkar described. “I hope to grow my audience and branch out into different styles and forms. I also hope to use my channel as a platform to step into the world of TV, film, radio and stand-up.”
The platform has been a great launch pad for Kolhatkar, who has been able to showcase his performance skills and sense of humor. “Since Youtube has taken off, I have done some short films and was also featured on a digital Emmy award-winning show ‘7DaysLater,’” he said.
Kolhatkar may identify as a comedian, but his videos aren’t all humor. In fact, some of them tackle serious issues–racism, sexism, and ageism, to name a few.
“Ultimately, I aim to have the audience laughing but will always try and find the humor in such serious issues because it is such a powerful tool to express one’s point,” Kolhatkar said. “The balance can always be tricky because as a comedian, you never want to come across as being too preachy—but when you hit the mark, it makes for a brilliant video.”
Kolhatkar explained that he gets the ideas for his videos from several different places, including general observations, the media and social norms he witnesses on a day-to-day basis.
“I love doing character-based videos. Relatable things, trying to find the point of humor in everyday interactions and people you come across in everyday life,” he elaborated.
Speaking of Kolhatkar’s everyday life, the actor counts on the people who are very much a part of his day-to-day life to keep his YouTube videos on track. “Even though they all really enjoy my videos, at times, my friends can be my biggest critics—but I appreciate the fact they are always keeping me on my toes,” he said.
There is one video in particular that likely stands out to fans on Kolhatkar’s YouTube channel. In it, he pokes fun at the ever-changing notion of “equality”—which also happens to be the title of the video. The video clocks in at under four minutes, but in that short time it manages to be both satirical and eye-opening.
The video takes place in a futuristic world, one in which no one has names or eats solid food in order to avoid offending anyone. Straight white males are killed in this world and children only go to school three days of the year (as every other day is a religious holiday). In this futuristic world, a man can get sentenced to jail time if he insults a woman—especially if she is “a privileged white woman with a blog.”
Naturally, the video is satirical and very funny, especially when the viewer reaches its conclusion, at which point we are told that the video takes place in the year 2016.
“[My favorite video on my channel] of the top of my head [is] the recent one I made,” he said. “#Equality is one I really enjoyed being a part of because it provoked such a discussion and gained traction all over the world.”
So, what is next for this talented comedian/actor? In his own words: “I have a short film coming out next month and am also working on a TV pilot. I am continuing to pursue stand-up and improve my skills as an all-around performer. Newer videos with higher production value are also planned to really grab the attention of mainstream media. Aside from that, I am continuing to post the videos my followers have become accustomed to,” he said.
Follow Kolhatkar on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up-to-date with his latest projects.