Published: 29th September 2018
Comedians Rajiv Rajaram and Utsav Chakraborty remind us that as long as we have our voices, we can make a difference
At the 12th edition of The Park's New Festival, these comedians were performing along with a host of other artists
How many times a day does your smartphone buzz? And how of those times does it buzz to notify you about a WhatsApp message? While every WhatsApp message is a welcome distraction, one can't say the same about those annoying groups that keep your phone buzzing all day (and if you have an iPhone, God save your battery life!). Whether it's those random greetings for the day, lame forwards or fake news, we have all been a victim of one or all of these. So, in an era where all it takes is a WhatsApp message to spark a fire, two comedians on September 19 tried to make sense of this at The Park Hotels and Prakriti Foundation's annual cultural festival, The Park's New Festival.
Other artists at the festival were Preeti Vasudevan, a classical Indian dancer; Ana Lamata, an art historian and IndoSoul, a band
While the six-city festival kicked off in Chennai on August 30, it ended on September 21 in the City of Nizams where comedians Rajiv Rajaram and Utsav Chakraborty tried to remind us that one of the greatest weapons that mankind has against all that is froth and fake in the world is our voice. Performing in their own hilarious style, of course, they called their act Noise Over Artists. While Rajiv Rajaram is of the Put Chutney fame and introduces himself as 'world famous in Madurai', Utsav Chakraborty is a Mumbai-based comedian. It is the former whom we had the chance to meet and to whom The Park's New Festival feels like 'homecoming' because he performed at this platform five years ago as well. "While the content that we perform at the festival remains the same, we do localise certain bits," Rajaram tells us. And though the act, which was conceptualised three months ago, was headlined by two people, at no point did the duo disagree while rehearsing. They understood each other well and it clearly showed onstage as well.
How do we address jingoism in this era? With our voices, our greatest weapons
Rajiv Rajaram, comedian
We proceed to ask Rajaram, who has been performing for over seven years now, a question about a topic that no artists can escape in today's era — self-censorship. "I don't want to get killed over a bad joke and I have no qualms apologising," he says, his honesty startling us. He also laments about the fact that we, as Indians, have somewhere lost our sense of humour. So, the skill lies in telling the truth, but subtly; one must almost spring the truth as a surprise, he says, adding, "Because we are comedians and we are here to tell the truth." And that is also an important part of becoming a stand-up comedian, a vocation which Rajaram chose unconsciously while the current lot is flocking towards it. "We must find our voice and it should work out at the end," he says, and as an afterthought adds, "Also, get on the stage as much as possible." And even before the show, all Rajaram expected from the audience was to watch and have a good laugh. And laugh they heartily did.