T-Series Video Channel, the Matharoo Sisters, Mastanamma

From left: The Matharoo sisters of Toronto ; Gulshan Kumar of T-Series YouTube Channel and Mastanamma of Gudiwada, Andhra Pradesh.

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: To confirm that Indians the world over are marking their mark in this electronic digital age, there are three stories that are making the rounds these days that owe their very prominence to social media. All three have made their marks through persistence, though one – the story of the Matharoo sisters – has its basis in the much older mores of courtesans mingled in with Instagram accounts that have drawn millions of followers.

You might consider clips from some American stars like Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber as the most watched channels for the web-connected crowd, but the millions of people who follow them are nothing compared to those who follow the Indian channel T-Series.

Though not widely known in the US, T-Series is an Indian music label and film production company with the most watched YouTube channel in the world with over 53 billion views. It gains 10,000 subscribers a day and will overcome PewDiePie to become the most subscribed channel on YouTube. It was started in the 1980s by Gulshan Kumar, a former fruit-juice seller and cassette tape operator who also issued pirated recordings of Bollywood blockbusters. By the mid-1990s, the company became a conglomerate of film, television, real estate and even toothpaste and detergent companies. Scored

With the advent of smartphones that can reach 200 million people in India, and through partnerships, T-Series has 70 million subscribers and last year, Guru Randhawa’s “Lahore” scored 615 million views. In addition, T-Series has 28 other channels each geared to a different audience in their own Indian language. It is one of three Indian channels on Socialblade’s list of 10 most influential YouTube channels, the other two being ZeeTV and YRF. It hopes to crossover Bollywood artists and make T-Series a household name the world over.

Jyoti and Kiran Matharoo

Push over the Kardashian sisters as the Matharoo sisters of Toronto have taken the world stage by courting romances with a series of fabulously wealthy billionaire Nigerian boyfriends. They have accumulated so many luxury items that they have converted a bedroom in their Toronto home to a walk-in closet.

In their native country Jyoti, 31 and Kiran, 32 are known as the “Canadian Kardashians” for their unbashful pursuit of material things. Born and raised in Toronto by middle-class parents who had immigrated from India, the sisters’ lives changed in 2008 when Jyoti met a Nigerian billionaire who flew them away in his private jet and whisked them to his mansion. They gained a notoriety, fueled by Instagram posts, which made them the favorites of Nigerian gossip blogs.

But the fantastic lifestyle ended abruptly in 2016 when they were arrested by Nigerian police for spreading scandalous rumors of the Nigerian elite and held for a week in detention till they made a confession video. When they returned to Toronto, the worst was not over for Kiran who was arrested and held in Italy for 40 days awaiting extradition to Nigeria. Meanwhile, Jyoti was gaining success in modeling and recipe on Snapchat and Instagram and now, both free, the sisters want to focus on themselves.

Mastanamma, 107 years-old

Most unexpectedly, Mastanamma achieved global popularity when she turned 105. Her great-grandson Karre Laxman took a video of her cooking her delicious eggplant curry and posted it on YouTube and in two years she was the star of the YouTube Channel “Country Foods” with a million subscribers. According to Srinath Reddy, who started the channel, she knew she was famous and she loved it. She became an internet sensation. There are now hundreds of videos of her cooking in her unique way and the channels has had 200 million views.

Born in a rural village in Andhra Pradesh, Karre Mastanamma married at 11 years old, her husband died at 22 and left her to care for 5 children. To support her family, she worked as a laborer and lived in a small hut made of palm leaves in the village of Gudiwada.

She suffered from cataracts, wore dentures, cooked on an open fire outside and sometimes roasted chicken in a steaming watermelon. She squatted over teaming pots and made snails, catla fish, emu egg fry and had a sense of humor of her life. She loved cooking for others, giving them portions of the dishes she cooked on banana leaves. In April, Mastanamma celebrated her 107th birthday with a party, surrounded by children. Several months later she fell ill, slipped into unconsciousness and last week died peacefully in Gudiwada