Chennai

Pushpavalli comes to town

Sumukhi Suresh

Sumukhi Suresh  

After a web series and judging Comicstaan, Sumukhi Suresh brings her first stand-up set to the city

Sumukhi Suresh grew up in Nagpur, studied in Chennai, worked in Bengaluru as a food inspector, and eventually moved to Mumbai after she decided to pursue comedy as a full-time career in 2015. “I’m a South Indian raised in the North, so I have the best of both worlds. Chennai is one of my favourite crowds, and the city loves me. You know how your first love affair is really pure and innocent? That is and always will be Chennai for me,” says the 31-year-old comic, who is performing her first hour-long stand-up special, Don’t Tell Amma, in the city this weekend.

All about mom

The show is going to be based on “how I grew up, what kind of person my mother is, how she’s very crazy and how I’m in awe of her,” says Suresh, her hearty personality and easy humour coming through in a phone interview. After winning over audiences through her performance in the web series Better Life Foundation (2016), Suresh also has her own Amazon Prime series, Pushpavalli. She has always had clear goals for each platform. “With my web series, I wanted to explore grey shades, because women are considered the torch bearers of moral standards. With my sketches, I wanted to do different characters. Now, with stand-up, I want to do jokes. Also, nobody knows what sort of person I really am, and stand-up is a way to show that, as it is very personal.”

Trying it all

In a market that’s brimming with new players, Suresh says the trick is to try everything, and find your genre through the process. As one of the new judges on the latest season of the reality show, Comicstaan, she feels that it’s a good thing that more people are coming into the fray. With higher audience expectations, comics will up their standards.

Despite being one of the prominent women in the circuit, Suresh is against the gender tag. “You don’t look at a male comic and identify him by his gender. It’s like putting me in a box; I can never be the ‘best comic’, I can only be the ‘best woman comic’. And I’m not comfortable with that. As women in comedy, we understand the gender tag, the need for it, and that it is helping a lot of women come forward to try comedy. But I would like to compete with all comics on an even keel.”

She admits that women face distinct challenges, particularly with the audiences. “After a show in Coimbatore, one ‘uncle’ came up to me and said, ‘It’s okay, this is a hobby anyway, you’ll get married soon.’ People have asked me to ‘tone it down’. But there are also people who genuinely enjoy my personality,” she recounts, adding that it is about understanding the industry and working through these instances. To stay on top of her game, Sumukhi says she has “found the simple principle of working really hard, and that works really well for me”.

Catch ‘Don’t Tell Amma’ at CounterCulture Comedy Club tomorrow at 8 pm. Tickets at ₹499 on in.bookmyshow.com.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 1:06:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/pushpavalli-comes-to-town/article29111209.ece

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