Neeti Palta has the distinction of being one of the few female Stand-up Comedians in India. She has been performing at various locations like the leading Coffee Chain – Costa Coffee in the Delhi circuit. Besides being a stand-up comedian she has been an advertiser, writer of children’s comedy show Gali Gali Sim Sim and a script writer. She even wrote the theme song of the TV show. It is noteworthy that she has excelled in all the work she has taken up, till now.
As a comic artist, she has been inspired by Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood (stars of Whose line is it anyway?). Her every gag is clearly motivated from her environment. For her true life incidents take on a different meaning and she highlights the funnier side.
She says that ideas grow out of personal experiences. Her style includes observations of daily incidents from the female perspective. She recollects, “Previously, I would focus my comic scenes on making people laugh. But that comedy was very common. Now I make jokes after introspecting on my own more personal experiences.”
For her being a girl in India is funny in itself. According to her, being a girl in Delhi is even funnier. She adds, “That gives me enough incentive to do comedy on.”
Good comedy gags are not written in movies for female comedy artists, today. In some movies heroines perform comedy. But that is no big deal since in a comedy movie everybody is supposed to do comedy, including the villain. In other genre movies, no comic tracks are written for female artists. Comedy tracks are available for male comic artists, though. Her take, “Maybe acceptability is a factor. Initially, roles played by late Tun Tun, etc., used to be a caricature, right? Perhaps at that point that was what the public was accepting. Then came the funny Archana Puran Singh. By acceptability I mean is the audience ready to accept a female comic artist? Today, I feel that if there is a really funny female, who is competent enough to make the audience laugh without references to her obesity, I am sure people will accept her.”
She explains what she means by caricature, “Yes, Tun Tun was there, but she was made fun of due to her obesity. Was she given the opportunity to explore other things funny? What she would do was not comedy. That was caricature. Comedy is clever and intelligent. It is an incisive comment on society and people. Where have you seen any of that? Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron was comedy. Amol Palekar’s Golmaal was good. Then there was that Ashok Kumar movie Sai Paranjpe’s Khatta Meetha. That was a beautiful, very cleverly scripted comedy. Sai Paranjpe used to do very beautiful comedy.”
Previously, Tun Tun and others were seen in movies other than comedies, too and those characters were funny. She insists, “As part of our Indian culture, a woman is seen as a mother or she is seen as a Devi, i.e. Durga. Even the most forward thinking men, take a moment to accept any other role for a woman. Thus it will take some time for the audience to accept funny women, who are not obese and can do intelligent comedy.”
This article was first published in Eve’s Times magazine and has been published again here with the permission of the editor, Swati Amar.