Of Brands & Blogs

Malini Agarwal, India’s first celebrity blogger

You were India’s first celebrity blogger. Tell us how that came to be.
I started blogging as a hobby while jockeying at Radio One, and then later when I was head of digital content at Channel V. This was back in 2008, when I wrote a gossip column called ‘Malini’s Mumbai’. I had no idea blogging would become such a big deal.
 
Why the change in profession?
I started as a professional dancer and became a copywriter at MTV India. Circa 2003, private radio had just begun in India, and I became one of the country’s first radio jockeys. I think I’ve always been a bit of a nerd, so working online came easily to me. I found blogging to be a fun and creative outlet for my thoughts, and though it was not a conscious decision to make a business out of it, I very quickly realised what a huge opportunity this could be. My husband (then-fiancé) had just returned from Harvard Business School and suggested I make it a full-time thing.
 
What inspired you to start your own lifestyle blog?
I’m very curious about trends in lifestyle, entertainment, fashion, travel and technology. When it first came to the Indian market, something was missing in the way online content was presented. I felt like a personal voice was lacking, something similar to the relationships people often have with their favourite radio hosts – someone whose opinion you could trust.
 
You write on a wide range of topics.
Obviously, Bollywood is very popular, but a ton of people look to us for fashion content, tips and guides on how to dress, what to wear, and where to go. I love that different people come to us for different things, which is why we have such depth of content.
 
You also host ‘MissMalini’s World’ on TLC.
We just finished the first season and are already preparing for the next. Just like in the blogosphere, Indian reality TV tends to be a lot of high-drama conflict. I wanted to show people in India and around the world what cool, young, urban India looks like. The show is based on the team at MissMalini, who are always running around doing fun things. The cameras follow us around at work, during fashion events, and while interviewing celebrities and just doing our thing. I think people get a glimpse of what life is like for us through the show. We also tried to bring a different vibe with celebrities – not just gossip and scandal, but something light and fun. One thing we did was get Shah Rukh Khan to play charades with Abhishek Bachchan and the cast of Happy New Year!
 
Your most memorable moments?
I’ve had so many. I mentioned the SRK story, but he also taught my husband how to do his trademark air hug, which is something I’ll never forget. I also got the chance to sit on a sofa with Karan Johar, and he told me I had beautiful eyes and that people should follow me because I make a lot of sense. I feel like I’ve come to know so many of these celebrities over the years, and it’s really quite endearing how sweet they are and how hard they work. I think they’ve always been a little wary of the paparazzi, because everyone is always looking for a scandal. But it doesn’t have to be like that.
 
Where do you stand on fashion?
It’s fashion – have fun with it!
 
What are your plans for the future?
As I like to say, #tothemoon! We have so many amazing things planned for MissMalini the brand. We’re just getting started, but we’re already so much more than just a blog. Our driving principle will always be to create great content and experiences for our audience, which is why we’ve already dabbled in signature jewellery, and we will definitely be doing more television, too. Stay tuned!
 
What do you do in your free time?
What free time? Work and my personal life overlap so much that nothing ever really feels like work, so I’ve been blessed that way. I love dancing and reading, which is why I’ve just started MMBookClub as well. I also like to shoot pool at Ghetto.
 
What’s your favourite holiday destination?
Goa! It’s 45 minutes from Mumbai, and I have a million magical memories there. In fact, I even got married
there three years ago!      

– as told to Niharika