Write & Watch

Salesh Dipak Fernando

Category: EVENTS

JK – SILA SIRIPUGAL

I have been a part of the Tanglish Comedy Team as a critic for quite a while now.  But Tanglish Comedy was more of a comedy ensemble. It is much easier to write about 10 minute individual comedy acts than a solo show.  J. K. Sila Siripugal is my first attempt at reviewing a solo show and it is Jagan Krishnan’s first solo act as well,

J.K Sila Siripugal was produced by DJ’s Ensomneacks .  First and foremost it was heartening to see theatre embrace stand up comedy and give the rightful space to an upcoming stand up comedian. I personally feel different art forms can complement each other for greater good.  It is always a win – win scenario when artists help each other out. It sets a wonderful precedent for more such events in the future.

Quite surprisingly the opening wasn’t a warm up comedy act. The team decided to treat the audience to a 10 minute short play directed by Vikram S Vaidya. It didn’t seem like a play though. It was more like a heads up for the act that was to follow.  The humour worked very well though it wasn’t laugh out loud and I loved the way current events were deftly fit in the short play and the ensemble of actors were quite vibrant but the entire act felt a little too rushed. But it was a good start despite the minor blemishes.

The opening comic act was done by Karthi Durai. He started off the proceedings with a bit of nervousness.  Thankfully the jokes were spot on and managed to mask the inital nervousness.  Even as he touched upon the usual family jokes I was quietly yearning for that one special laugh out loud material. That moment happened when he decided to rip apart the tall claims of Indian advertisements. He found his groove and kept us entertained towards the end of his act.

Now it was time for the main act – The star of the show Jagan Krishnan. It is always very important to start off well when performing the first solo comedy act and what a rocking start it was with screenshots of all the brickbats he had received for his online comedy videos. The whole crowd burst out laughing. It takes loads of guts for someone to make fun of his own act even before the act had begun. Kudos for that.

From there it shifted to green tea and gym. But the best part was yet to come – The comedy act based on music alone. The concept itself was something very new to me. I haven’t seen any other comedian do a full fledged show where none of the music directors were spared. We all have our own biases when it comes to music and we are sensitive about it too. But here was someone who was taking down each and every one of them with no personal preferences.  

From ARR to Aniruth everybody made it to Jagan’s list and he spared no one. I repeat he spared no one.  What fascinated me even more was the way he picked out aspects of music which could be made fun of and it was hearting to see the whole audience join in this unique laughter ride. The pictures in the background for Harris Jayaraj songs are a welcome addition. The one aspect which stood out like a sore thumb was the few double meaning jokes. Not that the jokes were unfunny but such a unique stand up act didn’t need the usual double meaning clichés. Maybe those could be rephrased in a better way for future shows.

And Jagan himself has that charming goofy personality which pulls the audience towards his material.  I personally feel he is one of the most underrated comic in the city especially for the type of comedy that he performs. Next time you see an announcement of his show in the city. Do go for it.  It will be worth your time and money and I personally vouch for it.

PS: i missed the customary Illayaraja start.

 

TANGLISH COMEDY – SIRI SIRI SIRI 9.0

 

I had already attended Kala Gala 5.0 so I was naturally curious to see how Siri Siri Siri 9.0 would pan out.  The first thing which struck me was the ambience and the performing space.  A small space with a full house ensured that every joke landed.  The laughter was contagious and the minor blemishes were nullified.  In short, it was a perfect space for a wonderful evening.

The ensemble itself was perfect with the right mix of new comers and experienced comics. The show started off with Aaquib and the usual Name related jokes and slowly took a diversion towards double meaning jokes. Thankfully there was a healthy balance of Naughty and Nice which kept the audience engaged. His huge frame was another major plus. There are some comics who are blessed with the ability to make the audience laugh just by being there and Aaquib is one of them.

The next on stage was Gurumurthy.  He surprised us with a brand new perspective on  Dasavatharam. Though there was a slight lag when he started off he was in his elements once the many Kamals of Dasavatharam started clashing with each other. It was refreshingly original and funny.

The next comic was Aravind.  There was the Chinnama effect which most of us had experienced in school, CA woes and the long but subtle dig on people who are hell bent on finding fault with the reviewers especially those who review movies. It was a perfect stretch of interesting jokes which brought the house down consistently.

And then it was the turn of the lone woman comic Praveshika who picked out one of her own traits to bring laughs. It was the sort of self-depreciating humour I have been yearning to see for a long time. It is always a good practice to laugh at ourselves before the world laughs at us. I loved the way she brought nepotism into the equation. It was a perfect start to a long journey ahead.

The next on stage was Soda. I loved how the way he cracked a joke at the expense of one the performers. But the best part was his willingness to create awareness on the flip side of the now infamous blue whale game through his humour.  Humour, if done well, is the right form to drive home a message

Sriram’s act sounded almost like the death knell of newspapers.  His set was about the dwindling interest in reading newspapers. From Editorials to Obituaries he covered the things that we often overlook while reading the newspapers. It was smartly presented and neatly done.

The last of the evening was Mervyn Rozz. The most important act in a comedy ensemble usually comes right at the end. The role of the last stand up comic is of utmost importance. You have to ensure that the audience leaves the room smiling. And the act has to be very different from the acts that preceded the finale. When the show started I was eager to see who was going to be the man for the finale.  Who was going to be the Jagan of today’s show?

Mervyn on his part was relentless, precise and spot on.  Mervyn has this remarkable ability to manufacture jokes out of thin air. Most of the jokes were spontaneous jokes based on the audience and the participants. He consistently engaged everyone in the room and had his own version of School and Marriage Paridhabangal. It was a perfect finale.  For me, it was another well spent evening.

 

 

TANGLISH COMEDY – KALA GALA 5.0.

 

I was a little skeptical when I was called upon as a critic for a Tanglish Comedy Kala Gala 5.0. That space is something which I haven’t explored before. But I am grateful for the opportunity. I have been to their shows before this time I wasn’t there just for the laughs. The show had 6 acts which varied in tone, structure and approach.

The show began with Annamalai whose set had one primary objective – To warm up the audience for the acts that were to follow and he was spot on in that aspect. The jokes were very toned down but very well phased out to keep the audience in splits consistently.

The next two acts were Abishek Kumar and Syama Harini. I half expected Abishiek to start off with a comedy about his name. But he took a pleasant detour to comment on Depression. To present it in a comical way without offending anyone in the audience takes a lot of effort. And there’s this unusual chirpiness about Abishek which resonated very well with the audience.

Syama’s set was very precise and to the point. She focused on periods which is again a topic which we rarely speak about. It’s supposed to be a taboo. There was a lot to ponder for the audience in between the laughs. To me, these two sets were the high points of the entire show. It is important to have some space for comedy which is socially relevant.

Krithin was the next on stage – The guest spot. His set felt dry humor but a little too dry for my liking. But then that’s me. It seemed a little too abrupt too. A bit of work and the same set would be top-notch.

Marasamy started off very well by taking a dig at his grandfather. But after a point it became repetitive. A little too stretched beyond the time frame required for grandfather jokes. Maybe he could have tried to fill in with something else just to add some variety and avoid repetition.

Jagan is what you would call a glorious finale. He’s got that amazing ability to keep the audience hooked for the entire time frame. Every joke landed. Every musical note was a laugh riot and more importantly his set was something which everybody could relate to. It was a perfect end to a fabulous evening.

Despite the minor hiccups I loved how the acts were spaced out. Kudos to the entire for a brilliant effort.

 

 

 

 

 

CELEBRATING JEANNETTE

For way too long we have held on to the virtuous woman as an ideal representation of how a woman should be.  Why not take a diversion and celebrate a flawed woman instead. To me, the play didn’t begin until Jeannette came on stage, a woman who is so unabashedly herself despite the constant turmoil surrounding her life.

I know Jeannette for I have been love with Jeannette for a long time without giving her a face and a name. I know Jeannette, a woman who refused to be stripped of her desires. I know Jeannette, a woman who refused to let go of the scars that trouble her. She embraces her flaws in the form of a wedding gown.  Her only ray of rope questions her and demands answers. But she’s relentless and determined to hold on to her flawed persona.

She seeks doom as her only gateway to redemption and embraces the end with open arms. For once she’s not alone there’s someone willing to hold her hand before she closes her hand for one final time. “Save her” her loved ones scream but it is too late for her troubled soul seeks an answer in the alternate world.

We all do that mistake, don’t we? We judge, make choices on her behalf and demand what we deem to be an appropriate behaviour.  Why not leave the choice to her and cherish her presence as she lives her life to the fullest. It’s ok if she messes up; it’s ok if she makes wrong choices. The choice of how to live belongs to her alone. Let her be what she is. Let’s celebrate her free spirit.  Maybe it’s not too say I love you Jeannette before she takes that final step of embracing doom.

 

KOKO – A PANTOMIME IN TAMIL

Stage plays were very much a part of my early childhood. Of course I could never grasp the amount of work that goes behind the scenes. I could never grasp the aura of the stage.  It should have ideally been an on-going affair but slowly the love for the big screen took over and plays became a cherished childhood memory.

And then Koko happened. It felt surreal and nostalgic to renew my relationship with the stage through a pantomime.  I had absolutely no idea what I had signed up for when I agreed to be a part of the audience for Koko. The premise of the play itself was like a nostalgic trip down the memory lane. We have all experienced parental pressures when we were growing up.   It is inevitable especially with regards to education and career choices.  KOKO scratches the surface of this burning issue.

The first thing that stood out for me with regards to the play was the way the creators have experimented within a simple premise.  The production value and those lovely songs filled with soul-stirring lyrics made me go WOW. At various points during the second half I saw myself in KOKO and I guess most of the audience would have felt the same way.

On the downside beyond the initial flourish, I couldn’t connect with the humour in the first half of  the play. The humour felt silly at times but I guess it was a deliberate ploy to get through to the little ones in the audience. If you are an adult the first half could test your patience a bit. But it’s a minor blemish for a play which has it’s heart in the right place. The second half is engaging and makes you sit up and reflect.

Koko doesn’t play the blame game for there are no winners or losers in a parent-child relationship. It should be a win – win for both the parent and the kid which is possible only if they empathize with each other and that’s what Koko puts forth too.

The creators have said that Koko is going to schools and rightly so. It’s a heart-warming reflection of life and the inherent tussle in a parent-child relationship which is the need of the hour.  Go for it with your parents and if you are a parent take your kids with you if the play is being staged  closer to your home town.

Kudos to the entire team for a wonderful effort.  

MAKING SENSE OF DOMESTIC ABUSE

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What a Sunday it was! The moment I heard that there was going to be a CHENNAI BLOGGERS meet focusing on Domestic Abuse with Sujata Rajpal as the guest of honour I knew I had to be present at the event. Fortunately there was no shoulda, woulda, coulda hiccup at the last moment as I made it to the event.

Sujata M’am was graceful enough to give us a bird’s eye view of her journey as an author as the spotlight slowly fell on the topic of domestic abuse both physical and emotional. Sometimes a discussion is uncovering the missing piece of the puzzle. Every new point gives  us something to reflect upon. That’s how the whole discussion was.

One thing which surprised me was the lack of proper forums to shed light on how to deal with abuse despite having so many organizations which campaign for human rights. That was my key takeaway from the discussion. Perhaps this event might pave the way for one such initiative.

There were so many questions put forth. My pick from the lot was our CBC Author Kavipriya’s question. “Why is there so much emphasis on people who struggle while writing”. I hope I interpreted her question right.

Sharada thank you for being a graceful host. I still believe you can be a towering presence in the media if you want to.

Sujata M’am thank you for valuable insights on writing and domestic abuse. Looking forward to reading Leela’s  journey. 

And last but not least a big fat thank you to all the wonderful souls within and outside CBC who made this event a success.

 

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