The Huddle 2019: Day 1

Does the nation want to know? Does the nation know?

Honest laugh A stand-up act by Anuvab Pal, comedian and writer.  

In order to find out what we want to know, perhaps the first question to ask is who we really are. Wrapping up the day’s events at The Huddle, in a show titled “Does the Nation Want to Know?,” comedian and writer Anuvab Pal first gathered the giggles by exploring the intricacies of how each region in the country behaves.

“I am Bengali and we are not the bravest people in the country,” he began. “If someone threatened to elope with my wife, I’d have to go and scare him with a poem.”

Runs riot

Mr. Pal ran riot through each State and the idiosyncrasies of the people there, although the fact that people in south India seem to understand and speak English well seemed to impress him immensely. (“When Lord Wellesley came to south India and yelled, ‘surrender,’ everyone applauded. At last, someone who speaks English! And while we are in the region, here’s another one, “Vasco da Gama went to Kerala, got an Ayurvedic massage and never left.” One last: “I performed in Kashmir last week. Everyone there is so good looking. No wonder they want to separate.”)

Mr. Pal also held up a mirror to the state of journalism in India, especially in the form it plays out at prime time on television screens, where shouting anchors and tired talking heads play out a charade of a debate night after night, with not much real accomplishment other than constantly stirring the communal pot. He traced part of this, comically, to the origin of the construct of the term ‘Lutyens media’, which is often deployed to indicate a cabal of journalists and politicians who hobnob and trade favours in central Delhi, and the obsession with the actual residents of Lutyens Delhi in claiming London as their own and sounding ‘propahly’ English.

The central point of Mr. Pal’s comedy is an honest look at ourselves, a diverse people now struggling with the issue of national identity, and baffled at how we got here in the first place. Class and linguistic constructs used to be structured. Now, who knows what’s going on?

‘Does the Nation Want to Know?’ the show asks. In its inability to answer that lies the real question. Does the Nation Know?


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Printable version | Jul 23, 2021 5:30:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/does-the-nation-want-to-know-does-the-nation-know/article26225783.ece

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