In her sixties, Gangavva Milkuri is a social media star, thanks to My Village Show. The YouTube channel showcases rural life and is popular for its subtle humour and satirical takes which come with an abundance of local flavour.
In fact, Gangavva is so popular that she has even landed a few mainstream Telugu films.
But until 2016, Gangavva had no idea that she would become a household name. Draped in a red saree and speaking Telugu in the Telangana dialect fluently, Gangavva recounts her journey to TNM. She was born in an agricultural family, and continued to work in her in-laws' farmlands after marriage.
"I also used to do coolie work or roll beedis. It wasn't really a good time for me," she says.
Gangavva is currently in Hyderabad for a film promotion event. She has previously been part of promo events for Sita, starring Bellamkonda Srinivas and Kajal Aggarwal, and Samantha's Oh! Baby. Besides, she has also acted in Ram Pothineni's iSmart Shankar and Priyadarshi's Mallesham. T
The My Village Show channel is run by Srikanth Sriram, Anil Geela and a few of their friends from Lambadipally village of Mallial mandal in Jagitial district, Telangana.
Srikanth and Anil were neighbours and had the idea of exploring village life through YouTube. The youngsters came across Gangavva while doing a video on how the local people respond to events. "A vast section of people find her expressive reactions, humour and natural acting under few or no instructions very entertaining," says Srikanth.
Looking at her now, one cannot imagine Gangavva without a broad smile adorning her face. But a decade ago, Gangavva suffered in the hands of her alcoholic husband who would harass her. He passed away a few years back. Gangavva has a son and two daughters, all of whom are into agriculture.
The spirited 60-year-old is clear that her newfound fame is a means to survival. When asked if she had ever expected that she'd one day share the stage with celebrities, she calmly says, "If we believe in our strengths, anything can happen. We must strongly want it to happen. I believed in the possibility that I could act."
Complimenting Gangavva's work, Anil of My Village Show says, "She is a very fast learner. She grasps things quickly. She is more of a professional artiste now."
A recent video that features Gangavva is titled "Vari Kotha Ainaka" (After harvesting the crops), and speaks about the difficulties that farmers face. Gangavva plays a woman farmer who struggles a lot to cultivate the crops and ends up with little money. She was widely praised for her performance.
Speaking of the video, Anil says, "I think that's her best performance till date. She really started crying in one of the scenes which highlights the apathy shown towards farmers."
Gangavva at the YouTube Fan Fest
Gangavva's thirst for life has ensured that at an age when most people retire from their jobs, she has launched herself in a new career. And not just any career but one that has made her a sensation.