Niyati Mavinkurve and Abhiraj Rajadhyaksha on ‘Following Love’ and the stories around it
If Niyati Mavinkurve and Abhiraj Rajadhyaksha’s names sound unfamiliar, it is probably because you know them as Niyu and Abhi (“We prefer it short because our full names can be quite mouthful,” laughs Niyu.). Because, if you spend a lot of time on Instagram, you have probably come across their recent analysis on China’s situation in the post covid world, which crossed 1 crore views and have been shared by close to 30 lakh people.
“We have also gained over 1 lakh 20 thousand new followers… We take pride in content because we put in a lot of hard work and research,” says Abhi.
Known as ‘Following Love’ on social media, the duo are best known for an initiative called #100reasonstoloveindia. Their earlier videos on Veer Savarkar and Data Privacy garnered 15 lakh views and close to 50 lakh views respectively. “We started our page a year back with an aim to inspire offline content through online content. Our forte is to make impactful short format videos for millennials with an aim to promote practical patriotism and spread awareness and positivity, delving into different genres of content like history, social welfare, environmental issues, sustainable living, economy etc,” Niyu says.
On their travel spanning 200 days to discover 100 reasons to celebrate the subcontinent, the duo has since produced digital series that sheds light on often ‘taken for granted’ reasons that make India what it is. Besides highlighting the positives, they have also brought forward important issues that affect our ecosystem adversely. “For instance, our video on Ganpati Utsav was a much-needed commentary that addressed the Ganpati Visarjan issues in detail while focusing on marine life and lithospheric pollution. While Maharashtra alone witnesses over a million Ganesh visarjanas during Ganesh Chaturthi every year, seldom does anyone care about the lead present in the paint that is used to decorate the Ganpati statues every year… We proposed three practical solutions that could help bring about at least a 1% change. 1% only. While the percentage may seem small, when put against the larger picture, it is a significant change towards solving an issue that haunts us every year, each time with an exponential
impact. It was a hit as some of our followers exchanged their plaster of paris (PoP) statues for clay statues. There was a lot of exchange of information on where one can find/order clay statues within our followers through our videos. So it’s a positive network that we aimed to build,” says Niyu.
After having worked as independent film-makers, the duo who got married in 2018 decided to break from commercial life and started a passion project. “#100reasontoloveindia highlights real heroes and tells stories with a different flavour. While we aspire to do a lot of travelling, it is not easy and practical. Especially because we are self-funded. But we are glad we have seen a lot of India this way: Tripura, Ladakh, Meghalaya, Sikkim, BIhar, Kerala, Gujarat. Ours is not a linear journey,” explains Niyu.
The couple makes it a point to say #100reasontoloveindia is not a travel blog that gives pointers on what to eat and where to shop. “At Unakoti in Tripura we realised how much of India we haven’t seen yet. That brought us to think that in a way textbooks have limited my approach to knowledge. Same goes with Arammula, the address of the famous boat race in Kerala. There we went to see the making of Arammula metal mirrors which is still a closely guarded secret among 19 craftsmen. They earned GI (Geographical Indication) patent tag in 2003 and we only discuss boat races,” points of Abhi.
Of course, they get their share of vocal online critics. “We are learning to use criticism as fodder for newer videos. We look at criticism as a form of information and learning to from the experiences our followers share with us,” said Abhi.
When the duo isn’t travelling they are making research based videos and creating content that can motive followers to do something good for the society. One such video is the recycle story of raddiconnect and how waste can be turned into building resource.