Say hello to my pal Nikki who runs a creative agency firm Mixed Juice Design as its Creative Director and CEO. She has so kindly agreed to be a fly on the wall for me at Delhi “dos” and report back, blogger style :)
If I had followed the advice of a friend I met outside the auditorium, Ayesha, it would have meant skipping the first half of the show, getting some beers, and being back just in time for act two. After a quick round of ‘inky pinkie ponki’, fate decided that we were going to watch the entire 75 minute-long performance.
The act opened with the animated host, Vipul Goel, who got the audience going with his brand of desi humour. His funny take on Dehej Loans, newlyweds, and mother India (not Air India) prompted many in the audience to laugh out loud. It did take me a while to adjust to his very heavy Indian accent and the very obvious India-centric jokes… some funny and some not. Nevertheless, the audience loved it. That’s what I loved – their reaction prompted me to follow this comedy show – seriously.
Titled, ‘Injia: The Many Highly Effective Habits of Indian People’ we saw Goel open the show, followed by comic artistes Rajneesh Kapoor and Anuvab Pal. The comedy duo of the night offered a combination of ‘been that, done there’, and some truly brilliant jokes.
Lets start with Kapoor: this was my first time watching this Delhi-based comedian. Just as with Goel, at first it took time to adjust to his ‘not-so-desi’ but American meets Indian accent with a prolonged drawl to e-v-e-r-y word. I mean here is a guy, who was making me (and my friend) laugh, but not at his jokes. Mayank and I just looked at each other and were like, is this for real? Who is this guy? Where is he from? Once we got over his ‘Southern drawl’, Kapoor turned out to be quite funny in a polite, self-effacing way. A lot of his inspiration came from his family and the habits of people around him – from taking the piss out of Indian families and their out-of-control kids who insist on repeating, ‘Mama…’ every two seconds, to taking digs at ‘Sach Ka Samana’ a TV show on Star Plus. Sure, I could follow a fair amount of his references, but both Mayank and I felt like fake desis sitting in the audience. He definitely had his moments when he had all of us in stitches. I did feel that some of his long jokes lost their lustre, and my attention.
Mumbai-based Anubav Pal is the reason I wanted to check out this show. I had heard of his comedy acts, and thoroughly enjoyed the 2007 film, Loins of Punjab that he had co-written with Manish Acharya. Now Pal, we could understand immediately. Here was a comedian who spoke in our language. Self-deprecating in his style, Pal knows something about portraying himself as a typical ‘Bengali Babu’ who would rather write about the war than fight it. He plugged away at the macho, north Indian male who adds ‘bro’ to every sentence. His English accent was fit for her Majesty the Queen and his jokes on comparing Bappi Lahiri (whom I love) to a gold souk mall were 24 carat. But he did play the ‘Angry Bengali’ for a bit too long, and I secretly wished he had ‘newer’ material.
What I did realize at the end of the 75 minutes, is that comedy is still nascent in India, and I am not always the target audience. After the show ended, I went to the ladies’ room and could overhear some women raving about what the ‘amazing’ show, and how funny it was. Tells you where things are. There was nothing subtle about the jokes, but the fact that more and more Indians are tuning into comedy and enjoying it, makes me smile.