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Last Updated Friday April 27 2018 12:20 PM IST

Why’s it hard to be a woman in comedy? Sumukhi Suresh makes her case for equality

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Sumukhi Suresh

Call us comics, not female comedians, says Sumukhi Suresh, known for breaking stereotypes with her acts, including her latest web series Pushpavalli.

She feels women are trying stand-up comedy but says a big change is yet to come.

“There are more number of us than before. Not many, but still a lot more. More women are trying stand-up, there are more – not too many but it's a start – sketches/content being written with women in mind. All of this hopefully gets more women to come forward and be part of the scene," Suresh said.

"I just hope that more women write roles and characters for themselves and not wait for someone else to write for them because a man can't always understand the complexities a comic who is a woman can portray. All I really want is for more women to be part of the comedy circuit so that we will be called as just comics and not 'female comedians' and that will be the biggest change," she added.

Suresh has made a place for herself in showbiz as an improviser, a comedy sketch artiste and an actor. She is known for her YouTube videos like the Maid Interview, her role in "Better Life Foundation" and The Office-inspired web series documenting the workings of an NGO.

She is back with "Pushpavalli", in which she plays the role of female protagonist. Suresh has written the Amazon Prime Video web series, which address the issue of stalking in lighter vein.

Sumukhi Suresh

"Pushpavalli" is about a girl who is smitten by a "charming man and she decides to pursue him by moving cities and ends up inadvertently stalking him while he is clueless"

Talking about the thought behind the show, she said: "I love playing different characters and I really wanted to play someone who seems bubbly friendly but has a greyish layer to her. That's also because women are either shown as a positive or a negative character, we hardly explore her greyish layers. That was a strong motive.

"Secondly, every woman has made that one mistake or fallen head over heels for someone and done irrational things for him or her and that is a very strong memory. I wanted to tap into that trigger."

Stalking is a very serious issue not only in India, but the world over. Suresh hopes the audience will read between the lines and understand the gravity of the issue.

"The show is humorous and playful initially but as the series progresses, you see that Pushpavalli falls flat because of her actions. Regardless of what your gender is, stalking never works out and thus you see this lively character broken by the end of it. As a writer, I don't believe in spelling things out and I am sure the audience is smart enough to see her failure and understand stalking leads to nowhere," she said.

Earlier this year, the news of comedian Shyam Rangeela, a contestant on a laughter show on Indian television, being asked to avoid mimicking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on the show created quite a flutter.

Suresh feels "we as a nation have become very touchy".

Sumukhi Suresh

"The problem isn't the lack of freedom. The problem is intolerance. We as a nation have become very touchy and somehow criticism, a joke on politics has become sensational. We want to and some of us actually use comedy as a tool to speak about politics and I hope the audience is ready to take it rather than threatening and shutting it down," she said.

Apart from the web series, the comic star is working on "two other shows and building my one hour stand-up special. 2018 looks busy for sure".

The opinions expressed here do not reflect those of Malayala Manorama. Legal action under the IT Act will be taken against those making derogatory and obscene statements.

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