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Fun, Lola, fun

Lola Kutty is the latest addition to Channel [V]'s long roster of parody characters. IVAN T. throws some questions at the anchor

Thankfully, Lola Kutty doesn't take the corny debo-nair/pheno-menon road to humour.

"MAY I haouve your yedention pleez?", she thunders from a loudspeaker, perched on a satellite. "Will the real Lola Kutty please stend up? Please stend up." Actors at a movie shoot look up, startled, and a hapless boom mike man gets pelted with a coconut. Welcome to the weird, wild, and self-consciously wacky world of Lola TV.

Lola Kutty, a.k.a Channel [V]'s "beauty on duty", is the latest addition to the channel's long roster of parody characters. The bespectacled, mallipoo-sporting, heavily ("Malayali") accented Lola even has her own show — Celebrity Forum/Lola TV— in which she plays interviewer to assorted Bollywood personalities.

It all began...

So how did it all happen? "I was in Calicut and some man passing by asked me for directions. He was from Channel [V] and was very impressed with me and told me to apply to become a VJ... Even I thought, all this Simi, Karan, have talk shows. Why can't the common man (sic) also host a show? So I came to Mumbai." And music television hasn't been the same since.

Lola also has her Robin — a curly-haired fella named Alex, whose wardrobe apparently comprises only sparkly fluorescent shirts. "He used to be in my village. He didn't do much, so his wife asked my mother if I could take him along to Mumbai. Even my mother said, Lola, he can help you, be your bodyguard. What bodyguard I don't know, he's totally useless."

Thankfully, Lola doesn't take the corny debo-nair/pheno-menon road to humour, and relies more on witty asides and some superbly straight-faced questions for her laughs. Sample: "Why don't you use coconut oil more regularly for your hair?" In the process, some genuinely probing questions get slipped in as well.

Anchors in celebrity chat shows are almost always as much of performers as the people they're interviewing (of course everyone's supposed to pretend they aren't). But by being so brazenly camp about it, Lola manages to reverse roles and make her guests part of her audience. "See, I don't ask very personal questions. I want them to have fun as well. It's a fun show."

So you have Sameera Reddy helpless with laughter at Lola's pelvic grinds, Dino Morea trying to decide between embarrassment and applause, Boman Irani ("favourite guest, he's so funny, you know") joining the act and chasing Lola around, wailing her name. Good fun, really, because it could never happen on a regular talk show.

Propping notions?

But unlike predecessors like Aunty 303 and Quick Gun Murugan whose funniness came for the most part from their very identities (chaste Tamilian western hero; mummy by day, crime fighter by night), Lola herself is quite conventional (though rumour has it that she turns into a London-trained actress when she takes off her glasses). Her incongruity is her vocation itself — simply the fact that she's a VJ.

And so while the show does manage to take lots of not-so-subtle digs at VJ culture, it also makes you wonder what exactly you're laughing at, and why. At Lola's "VJing"? At Lola's jokes? Or at Lola herself? I laughed along when Sameera Reddy split her sides at how cute Alex was, but couldn't help cringing when Lola took the "helper" to task, telling him to get off the set. Channel [V] describes the show as being a "spoof on life in India, [V] style". But just whose life is being spoofed?

Lola herself avoids all such political quicksand. About the "spoof" she just says: "I don't know what they write, really. All these people never ask me anything." But does she think she's propping up certain notions of Malayali women? "Of course not. See just the other day, somebody told me I can't be Malayali because I'm fair and I don't have buck teeth. Now that is a stereotype." And the jasmine and glasses? "I'm like this only, really."

So there they are. Lola and Alex, on Lola TV, and pretty much in Lola Land. But hey, at least I got to see Boman Irani wail.

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