Aravind SA's I Was Not Ready Da premiered on Amazon Prime Video India on 27 November. "When I started my career as a stand-up comedian, there was no role model for me. In 2015, the stand-up comedy shows started making its baby steps in Chennai, Bengaluru, and Mumbai. I know that the show is where a person goes to the stage and tell jokes but other than that, to be frank, I don't know any popular American comedians. Unfortunately, I can't say that this is the famous guy I look up to. My inspirations are Tamil cinema comedians like Goundamani and Crazy Mohan. I interpreted their comedies, and adapted to what the stand-up comedy art form demanded," says Aravind, who has now become arguably one of the most sought-after stand-up comedians in the country.
Aravind started his career as an assistant, and was a student of a popular film institute in Chennai. When asked how this paradigm shift happened, he says "It was an accidental shift. I worked as an assistant director for three years, and parallelly, did stand-up comedy as a part-time gig. When I wrote my script in 2013-2014 and approached many producers, I got to know the reality that becoming a film director is not easy as there are many factors to get an offer in the industry. In the meantime, stand-up comedy had started booming. When I uploaded one of my stand-up comedy shows on YouTube, the response was phenomenal. For a vulnerable person like me, who doesn't know what I'm going to next in life, this new profession was rewarding. So becoming a stand-up comedian was a mathematical call because there were no big names whereas there were lakhs of youngsters fighting to get one offer in the film industry".
A lot of stand-up comedians have now become film stars both in the western countries and India. "Yes, filmmaking is a part of my long term goal. But right now, I want to generate enough body of work. In India, stand-up comedy is still at its nascent stage. As an industry, we are only 10 years old. We can't take the first five years into account as all of us tried and explored so many things to figure out what would work here. Only after the arrival of names like Amazon Prime, the industry has become legitimate as they brought more professionalism here. To answer your question, directing films is definitely in my mind but currently, my focus is to make sure that I earn enough audience, and they should know that Aravind would have a show every year. There are only a few stand-up comedians in India now so it's time to create a name for myself in the industry. Even in foreign countries, all the leading comedians explored their field for 25 to 30 years before focusing on films and other avenues," says Aravind.
Talking about the title I Was Not Ready Da, Aravind says "Thanks to the Tamil meme world, it's a different universe altogether. "I was not ready da" is a line from one of my first shows. The meme makers picked the line, and made it popular. When I was looking for a title for my show, I went back and used this line as it was already well-known, thanks to the meme world," he smiles.
Talking about his preparation for the show, and the age group whom he targets, Aravind says "I write my scripts based on what I like, and make fun of the curveballs in life. When I was performing for this show, I could see a family sitting in the front row comprises of the great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, and the youngest one. They have seen my show Madrasi Da on Amazon, and booked the tickets. Though my comedy is aimed at the younger crowd, the previous generation is also enjoying it. Guess Amazon statistics would give us a clear picture. When it comes to preparation, I have to be more confident and brighter for a grand show like I Was Not Ready Da because my comedy should also reach the audience in the last row. But content-wise, the preparation remains the same for all shows."
When Firstpost asks Aravind whether there is any plan to take stand-up comedy to smaller towns, he says, "If I do a show in Tamil, would go to the smaller towns and rural areas. Since my show is mostly in English, I'm targeting the city centres for now. But rural centres have comedy shows on television, and there are some wonderful speakers in Pattimandrams."
Talking about the criticism that stand-up comedians are using double meaning comedies to evoke laughter, Aravind says "Kamal Haasan has made several good films but still a section says that people go to his films for lip-lock scenes. An artist only knows his real intention. Audiences wouldn't accept him/her if the intention is bad and the jokes are distasteful. Moreover, it would also affect our work."
I Was Not Ready Da is streaming on Amazon Prime Video India. Watch the trailer here "