Friday, September 19, 2014

Artists Series: Evam, Chennai

When Jaipur Pink Panthers won the Pro Kabaddi League, I was left with the lasting image of Abhishek Bachchan ejaculating, exulting and allowing his team to carry him on their shoulders. While the event itself did provide something of a face-lift for an indigenous sport which still lies precariously at the edges of our collective memory, the "IPL effect" is hardly a decent solution for anything other than cricket.

Then again, Cricket in India doesn't need a solution. Almost everything else does.

Pumping the millions into neglected sports and dwindling arts will, at best, prove to be a short-term solution for reviving interest. These instant-coffee variants bring forgotten elements back into our heads, but success is possible only by nourishing the roots and building upwards. So it is with sports, and so it is with the arts.

Last Thursday brought a smile to my face, even before I ingested all that beer and humour. Evam celebrated its 11th birthday recently, and the outfit comprising of Karthik Kumar, "Baggy" Ramakrishnan, Yessae and Aswin Rao were outstanding examples of laughter at the bottom of the pyramid. #EST or Evam Standup Tamasha, soon to be available (like Saravana Bhawan) in the US of Yay, is a perfectly inappropriate comedy-act about Tam-Brahm obsessions, NRI dilemmas, matrimonial columns and mor.

Evam has that endearingly rough home-grown edge, picking on local idiosyncrasies and not sparing even one fake Amaerika-returned accent. So even with the show taking place at the slightly overpriced (but quite brilliant) Social in Santhome every Thursday, it is a runaway hit - and rightfully so. The best part of these acts, according to me, is the informal setup and the way the artists become one among the crowd. It could perhaps change with increased attention and demand, but I sure hope it doesn't.

The fact that new talent is introduced every now and again is very heartening, and this also ensures that the faithful aren't easily bored. And if what I hear from the team is true, they always have an eye out for people with a funny-bone: so audition, and the spotlight could be on you!

P.S. If you want an assortment of 'Kundi Jokes', you can follow them on Facebook and on Twitter.
P.P.S. Thanks Vasudha, for showing me something I didn't know about my hometown.

This is the first post in a series about India's indigenous art-scene. You can follow me here to stay tuned. Cheers.

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