Reel Awards: Comedians Biswa Kalyan Rath And Sumukhi Suresh Present Life And Its Struggles In Lakhon Mein Ek, Pushpavalli
While political commentary is still too serious a business for comedians in a country that is easily offended, commentary on life seems like a safer bet.
Image: A still from Pushpavalli /Amazon Prime
Comedian and host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah once said that the first purpose of comedy is to make people laugh, anything deeper is a bonus. And while the comedians in the West have been striking a perfect balance between comedy and life's commentary for years now, the wave has finally reached India. The year that went by saw a sudden boom of comedians on the digital space, which started with Netflix giving a global solo special to Vir Das, followed by Amazon Prime’s stand up special featuring nearly 12 domestic comedians.
Interestingly, the space acquired by the comedians didn’t just get restricted to stand up specials, as two popular comics Biswa Kalyan Rath and Sumukhi Suresh, went ahead and created their own shows Lakhon Mein Ek and Pushpavalli respectively. The start of this year saw another young popular face on the stand-up circuit, Kenny Sebastian, come up with a show depicting the life and struggles of two musicians.
The common string that is tying all the shows together, apart from humour, is a look at millennial problems, as that generation forms their largest audience group. Biswa’s Lakhon Mein Ek manufactures culturally relevant diaspora by cashing in on his IIT experience, a thing many young Indians are forced to grow up with. Set within the claustrophobic teenaged confines of an IIT Coaching Institute, it follows the path of a mediocre student geared to crumble under crippling peer pressure. This is a tough, sweaty drama and not a trivial comedy as one would expect from its makers. Through its relatable content, the web-series brings forth the concept of parental expectations, peer pressure, the concept of anxiety and depression. More importantly, the premise of the entire show is a dramatic commentary on the stale, degraded education system which is more of a dream-ground for parents than a learning-ground for children.
Similarly, Sumukhi Suresh’s Pushpavalli talks about the obsession of love and how a regular girl becomes a stalker in order to get the attention of that one specific person. At times when 'stalker' has become as common a term as water, Puspavalli explains how even the most literate people can misread emotions, if only to find a comfort that society mostly doesn’t approve of. The series deals with the concepts of inclusion and emotional neediness in a comic way. The entire premise of the show is an exaggerated version of a world observed by Sumukhi and the content relates to millennials who seek validation, from the worlds inside and outside of their phones. You may feel sorry for Pushpavalli but you also feel the creeps that people like them do exist around us, and that is the something comics today have tapped into.
Comedy has always been taken as an escape from reality or as a parody of reality that tickles your funny bone. While political commentary is still too serious a business for comedians in a country that is easily offended, commentary on life seems like a safer bet. To a generation looking to laugh at everyone and everything affecting their lives as a defense mechanism (and because their parents’ generation is perpetually offended), shows like these appeal the most.
They carry the essence of millennial life in their narrative and make fun of it, generating a sense of ‘we are in this together’. Isn’t this the validation we all are looking for? That we are not fighting the struggles of life alone and even the funniest minds in the business have observed the same.
2017 became the year when comedians became storytellers in India serving life in a familiar plate of comedy. Now it’s time to recognize this relatable web-content. News18 Reel Movie Awards has nominated Lakhon Mein Ek and Puspavalli in Best Web Series categories. The REEL Movie Awards are India’s first and only movie awards that recognize and reward New Age Cinema and its artists who deserve glory as they champion creative visual storytelling and epitomize diversity in the uniqueness of content.
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