Does ‘Indian’ comedy travel well? It does when the audience consists of young Asians who know each communities’ apparent foibles…
By Priya Shah
“ANY GUJARATIS in the event?” said Mr Pal. After a few raised hands, including my own, he said, “of course there are, it’s a free event!” The audience burst out into laughter and we knew we were in for a night of fun and hilarity.
Anuvab Pal is regarded as one of Mumbai’s best stand-up comedians. A rather small, stocky male, with a rich Indian-American accent, he certainly gave the impression that he looked like a comedian.
But even one of the “best” is quite a statement to make given the scope of talent in Mumbai. From Bollywood actors to wannabe socialites, and the odd snake charmer on the side of the road, Pal was perceived to have somewhat of a reputation. For these reasons, last Thursday (November 21), Warwick India Forum (WIF) invited Pal to set the tone for the bigger forum, which is to be held next year.
The theme for the evening was Indian politics and society; a witty take on cosmopolitan India and the impact of Westernisation on the Indian citizens of today. And Pal undoubtedly did not fail to impress, nor did he downplay the theme. In fact, the full house lapped up his improvisation, where he was quick to begin with “you wouldn’t get this many people to turnout in India!”
With a full theatre from most corners of India, Pal had a funny line that everybody could relate to. A personal favourite was when he mocked Punjabis with “Today I read a book without pictures and halfway through I realised it was upside down.” The reception was fantastic; such comments were received with a pinch of salt, purely because he was funny.
Pal’s witty history session was rather spot-on. With amusing lines about colonialism and the caste system to the development of “Hinglish”, his comedy take on India was accurate, particularly when he said “everybody tries to outdo each other” there. Indeed, competitiveness runs through Indian genes.
Just when we thought he may have run out of funny lines, Pal came out with more and had the audience laughing throughout his stand-up piece. An hour later and Pal’s show ended, but the buzzing atmosphere lingered.
What a fantastic way to begin WIF events. The main forum will be next February, when there will be a day of speakers both from India and the UK, who will talk about the country’s economy, its often-controversial politics and foreign policy, varied culture, and also its rich history. Who knows, there may even be another comedian.
Visit the Facebook page for more details about Anuvab Pal and Warwick India Forum.
Photo credit ©Akshay Chawla