"When I grow up, I will become an interior designer. I also like singing. Once I start working, I will donate all the money I earn to the poor and needy. Sorry… it isn’t correct to say ‘donate’, right?” Mishkkaa asks.
“I will help and give money to the needy,” the 12-year-old corrects herself.
Men, even 60 years old, may not know what consent is or what women’s rights are. But Mishkkaa, a Class 7 student, has her own views about the MeToo movement that has been taking social media by storm in recent days.
“Finally, women can stand up and raise their voice against people who have been abusing their power. I think more such movements should come up so people understand that what they are doing is not good,” asserts Mishkkaa.
For Mishkkaa Verma, who appears on the YouTube channel Mishkkaa – The Billi of Hollywood, issues like gender identity or a discussion on the Save the River campaign excite her more than the History lessons at school. She says she isn’t an avid reader but likes reading the newspaper and loves watching National Geographic, Fox Life and History Channel on TV.
Mishkkaa rose to fame two years back when she first put up a video on her YouTube channel about good touch and bad touch ('safe and unsafe touch' is what the experts prefer calling it) for children. It quickly earned over a thousand likes and the then 10-year-old began writing her own scripts on issues she found relevant.
“I would always get fascinated whenever I saw images of RJs on TV and wanted to put on headphones and act like them. So when I made my first video, I did the same, I kept a keyboard in front of me and played it just like RJs do,” Mishikaa recalls.
So can she really play the keyboard? “No, I simply run my fingers across the keys at the end of every video just like how RJs end their show,” Mishkkaa chuckles.
In Mishkkaa’s latest video on transgender people, she explains what the term means.
“Before Section 377 was decriminalised, I asked my teacher one day why everyone suddenly becomes quiet when one mentions the word ‘transgender’? She said that’s how everyone has been treating transgender people for ages, and young people like us should bring about a change in the way they are seen. So I went home and looked up more videos on this and called up Vyjayanti aunty (a prominent transgender activist) who helped me write the script,” Mishkkaa says.
Every month Mishkkaa uploads 2 to 3 videos on her channel, all scripted by her and edited by her mom. “I choose my topics carefully because it shouldn’t seem inappropriate for my age and the age group that I am targeting,” she says sensibly. One of her recent videos, Odho do Zindagi, an appeal to donate woollens, was shared by the NGO Goonj and received over two lakh hits.
Mishikkaa seems aware and sensitive to the world around her, much more than several adults anyway.
“I feel really sad when I hear people referring to ‘maids’. They are here to help us, so why should they be called maids? They should rather be called helpers,” Mishkkaa suggests.
“We blindly follow some practices whose consequences are terrible. We children have to start being more driven towards humanity,” she adds.
Mishkkaa’s sense of reasoning stems from an environment of debate and discussion at home. Mishkkaa’s parents, both organisers at TedX events, say they do not shy away from talking about issues that are considered taboo in society.
“Both Mishkkaa’s dad and I engage both our kids in healthy conversations at home. Because we believe that it’s better for kids to learn the nuances of an issue at home rather than learning it from someone outside, with facts that may mislead the child’s notion on a matter of importance,” Mishkkaa’s mom Ekta Verma says.
Talking about her challenges, the young YouTuber says, “Initially, I used to talk too fast because I have ADHD, but my mom started putting in a lot of commas in the script and that really helped me.”
But her ‘condition’ has never stopped her from anything, nor has the fact that she and her sister are adopted.
“Once when Mishkkaa was invited for a chat show on Radio Mirchi in Hyderabad, the RJ asked her what message she would like to give to her audience. Much to our surprise, Mishkkaa said that more parents must adopt children who are orphaned at a young age and give them a better chance at living. The fact that Mishkkaa herself is adopted has never put her down but has only made her more compassionate towards the lives of others,” Ekta shares.
As Mishkkaa is still underage to be active on social media, the child is yet to know of the big bad world of the Internet. The few negative comments that rear their head on her videos are deleted and the rest, she says, is taken positively.
Finally, we ask Mishkkaa the question that intrigued us at first. What is Billi of Hollywood?
“I like cats and Hollywood. So just like how Fever FM calls itself ‘Baap of Bollywood’, I called my channel the Billi of Hollywood,” Mishkkaa laughs.
After all, kids are kids, even if exceptional!