I became one with Evam in June last year and it has been a wonderful journey since, having performed in Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai and internationally in Australia, I thought I’d share a little about my choice of doing comedy on Women’s day.
My earliest memory of school was the teacher asking us to shut up. Quite literally, the words used were, “Class, silence”, “Shusshhh” making one stand on the bench for talking, reference to class being a fish market etc, even when the teachers were not really teaching/ lecturing. I did not quite understand, why we had to keep quiet. Wasn’t the world outside so noisy? How can we fit?
Having working parents and a sister much older meant I spent a lot of time being home alone. Most of my days were spent with the toys. (Playing outside was not an option because, “Could I lock the house safely and not lose the keys while playing?” and I wasn’t the most extrovert type friendly person ever.)
My childhood was filled with toys, I had a tub full of them! All of them came out, we had fun in silence and they went back into the tub by the end of the day, just like my thoughts did.
I was tired of growing silent, in my house due to the situation and in my class due to compulsion. More time was spent in silence. My friend making skills were not great. I was a shy person. I barely friends back then, kidding, I barely have friends now. Kidding, I’m working on it and it’s getting better. I wanted to talk though, the years and years of silence played a loud chaos in my head. I was trying to find a more verbose medium to express myself. To talk and not be shushed. I also learnt Bharatnatyam for more than a decade, it is a beautiful dance form where everyone but I get to make noise through the mouth, I was asked not to mouth the songs I was dancing to as it would not look great on stage. Agreed, but I was doing that everywhere already and I was not prepared to do it again. I tried my hand (and leg and rest of the body) at theatre in college. It was fun in the beginning, till I heard the “shushes” again, with the “stick to the dialogues in the script”, “stick to the character, not you!”, theatre is great, it is just not for me, I could not afford to hear a shush. Same goes with my modelling stint, my face but someone else’s line, God! this was getting tiring. When was my turn to speak my words?
Comedy came to my rescue. I could speak, my story, my thoughts.
I (still) am terrified of the stage, it is a place where I put myself out there, at the risk of saying things that has never been said before ( we got to be original no?), at the risk of introducing a bunch of strangers to my thoughts, the thoughts that never freed themselves as words. At the risk of saying too much, too different and being an outcast, but guess what? The non-stage world let me say so little, so I didn’t fit in anyway! I had nothing to lose. I agree that you can shush me here too! But this time I will shush back though, because if you had something important to say, it would not have been me but you who should have dared taking the mic in your hand. I now had a mic and speakers rooting for me.
There’s also a constant question about my gender, how I could take up comedy despite being female, I could have never thought of it that way, if I’m hungry (it is an urge) I eat food ( I would not think of myself as a female who needs to eat food) I did comedy because I wanted to share, share (which is an urge too!) how I felt about things, how I saw things around me, how I kept myself entertained for so many years in all the silence my lip was forced into, i just suddenly did not think about my genitals before sharing my jokes. Besides, jokes come from the brain (or heart!) and not the genitals no? Being referred to as female comedienne makes me feel like it is some special ability. Not am I just being female, but I do comedy too and that must be treated as special!
I feel any art comes from a deep rooted suppressed expression, which is waiting to take off in any form you can give it, gender has nothing to do with it, I do not have social commentary on women’s issues, at least not yet, I don’t talk about oppression faced by all women in general, I don’t have the experience to, I want to talk about my stories, stories which are true to me and made my journey what it is today. As for other women, I hope they see in me a possibility to come out of all the “shushing” that is done onto them, wherever they are and whatever their situation maybe.
If you meet me I’ll still be the awkward silent girl struggling to make small talk, I am not a different person on stage, I am just a different person off it.