Social media jedi: How 'MissMalini' built her brand

miss-malini-book-cover (File) #To The Moon, a book by blogger MissMalini

Miss Malini is not a Bollywood tattletale in the conventional sense. She does not dish out the juiciest celebrity gossip or risqué "insidery" details. There are blind items on her blog, but never any salacious "reveals". And her love for Bollywood and fashion is pure and unaffected. A recent interview at a lit fest quotes the celebrity blogger thus: "Build trust. That is how you gain access behind the velvet rope at Bollywood social dos." 

Malini Agarwal's autobiography #To the Moon: How I Blogged My Way to Bollywood, is a 350-page elaboration of this very personal philosophy. The snowballing of a hobby blog, started in 2008, to a successful entertainment website, is hinged on good old hard work, perseverance and happy accidents. From receiving nifty career advice from ad-man Prahlad Kakkar when she just moved in to Mumbai in 2000, with Rs40,000 in her bank account (pretty decent amount in those days, come to think of it), to finding her ikigai (sweet spot or "purpose" in life), Agarwal's journey to build Brand MissMalini is a funny, cheerful read which often gets too preachy and self-congratulatory. 

Born and raised in a upper middle-class household with supportive parents and siblings, but venturing out nonetheless to create her own legacy is the basic framework of the book. Like a self-help guide, Agarwal dispenses life hacks with unceasing regularity. Although peppered with many interesting character sketches, episodes and encounters (especially the Abhishek Bachchan fiasco where Agarwal she ends up asking some ridiculous questions as a radio host), flitting in and out of her Mumbai adventure, Agarwal never quite manages to abandon that I-was-born-to-live-a-life-less-ordinary tone. And clichéd moral lessons like "Sometimes the karma is you" and "the world is round and so is your path" could have been easily edited out, even though it is a necessary outcome of the chapter.  

But the most useful takeaway from this ode to self and "making it" is the sheer flexibility that Agarwal displays instead of doggedly sticking to the tried and the tested. Her open-mindedness is perhaps the key to her success and this is most clearly reflected in the format of the book where she experiments with elements of social media handles, random testimonials, snapshots of web pages, pithy blog entries and easy headlines abound. It's almost like a fun, playful website. Just like Agarwal's MissMalini. 

#To The Moon: How I Blogged My Way To Bollywood

HarperCollins India

350 pages


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