NEW DELHI: India’s young professionals in high-contact businesses, such as chefs, fitness trainers, make-up artistes and stand-up comedians, among others, are resuming their trade for paid online classes even as gigs in the physical space dry up due to the pandemic.
Popular stand-up comic Aditi Mittal saw numbers at her closed-door events falling in early March. For the comedian, who has been hosting offline stand-up comedy workshops in cities of Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, and Delhi since 2015, it was time to take the online challenge.
She reckoned that it could be a whole year before she gets back up on a stage. So in the first week of June, Mittal concluded online comedy classes for three batches, of 7 people each, on Zoom. Her stand-up comedy workshop for beginners, “#CrashBurnLearn", priced at ₹5,500 (plus taxes) is booked till the end of the month, she claims.
Takers for such classes include professionals who are just starting out to those waiting for the tide to turn and, in the meanwhile, are honing their skills, awaiting their next assignment.
There are takers for film criticism course online, as well. Even though the e-learning course by Film Companion, a movie portal founded by film critic Anupama Chopra, was planned before covid-19, the module went online during the lockdown when film buffs were cloistered at home. The four critics who teach the course include Anupama Chopra, Baradwaj Rangan, Rahul Desai and Sucharita Tyagi, and it costs ₹499 for 10 lessons.
"We knew that we wanted to scale beyond just 25 students in a classroom but we were worried whether film criticism would be too niche," said Chopra, editor of Film Companion.
Declining to share subscriber numbers, Chopra said the team recovered five times what it needed to break even and will continue the initiative."It will be an ongoing thing and we will definitely add to it because it's part of our educainment vertical. People are willing to pay if you give them quality material," Chopra said.
In Gurugram, Anahita N. Dhondy, chef partner, SodaBottleOpenerWala, CyberHub, Gurgaon, plans to host online cooking classes starting later this month.
Since her restaurant is only servicing deliveries, Dhondy has time. The surge in cooking videos and content during India’s lockdown will translate into aspiring chefs willing to pay for online classes to improve their culinary skills. Dhondy who has hosted live cooking sessions at the restaurant in Gurugram will price these at a maximum of Rs1,000, lower than what her in-person sessions cost.
“I'm doing it out of passion right now because I don't feel this is something that's going to sustain my income. But if they go off really well, I can make it a more regular fixture," she added.
Last week, Pooja Khurana, a south-Delhi based makeup artist hosted her first Zoom makeup class for over 50 participants—who paid ₹3,500 to attend the over four-hour long session.
As India entered a two month long-lockdown on 25 March, it placed strict curbs on large congregations including weddings. Khurana says since most of her clients have shifted their celebrations to end of the year, it has given her the time to "experiment" with online sessions. Khurana has two master classes lined up this month.
Coach Jesika Gulati who works at Crossfit 367 at Punjabi Bagh in Delhi has started conducting paid online fitness training sessions on video platform Zoom from 1 May. She charges ₹1,600 per month for five classes a week. Gulati said this has been a good source of income during the lockdown. Nation-wide, gyms continue to remain closed prompting fitness enthusiasts to pay for online classes.
"I started the online training for my existing clients as they wanted to continue their routine. It is a decent source of income during lockdown. Over the last one month with word of mouth and social media posts people have started showing interest and now I train eight clients," she said.
Lata Jha and Saumya Tewari contributed to this report.