Aalas Motaapa Ghabraahat is everything that we home-bound, forcefully quarantined millennials want to feel. Even though stand-up comedian Karunesh Talwar's new Amazon Prime Video Special clocks in just under an hour, it is a hilaire-a-thon into how he negotiates a balance between his ever-caustic sense of humour and how he unwillingly places his parents as its targets.
Setting the tone of his special, he confesses to being "topic-less," right at the beginning of his set. "Considering people are getting offended at the drop of a hat, there are only three-four topics left for me to make fun of. Automatically, my parents and girlfriend must bear the brunt of it," he says blithely.
But his Special aside, Talwar genuinely feels his parents, friends and family have been more than (inadvertently) generous with providing content for him to mine during these bleak COVID-19 times. Talking to Firstpost, he explains the catchy title of the shows and his views on self-deprecation,
"What tends to happen is that in the beginning (of your career), you focus outwardly; you make fun of things other than yourself. But with time, you realise it's a defence mechanism.
It's cathartic to go onstage and talk about yourself, it's also embarrassing. Yet, they are the stories that set you apart and consolidate your comedic voice. About the title, it absolutely captures my state of being most of the times, so it was an easy one to go with (laughs)."
Krunesh Talwar in Aalas Motaapa Ghabraahat.
The Special, true to his word, is inherently focused on him and how he thinks about things. Talwar touches on the throbbing nerve (albeit with dollops of funny anecdotes) of an artiste's omnipresent dilemma to 'choose the right subject.' "My parents are both proud and upset with me for making a name, but at their expense," he tells a cheering audience.
But even in his supposed rant on parents and their asinine advice they forcefully impart to him, it is evident Talwar holds them in high regard. But his love for them does not make him any less of a critic. He openly tells his young adult audience members that they ought to rebel against their parents' senseless drone. "There are only two reasons why you are listening to them. First, if you have any misplaced sense of respecting elders, which makes you silent. Second, if you're financially dependent on them. Once you start earning, you'll hear an inward voice guiding you to defy them," he quips with a devilish smile.
Since most millennials turn to comedy as entertainment these days, being socially responsible citizens off-camera is something comedians are being asked to consider. Talwar feels the main idea is to remain authentic to himself. "I don't feel that pressure to constantly opine and express yourself, it's childish. There are more social media platforms than what I have to say. I just need to be sure that my loved ones and I are comfortable with what I say onstage. Beyond that point, it's not in my control. I've learnt to not take anything too seriously unless there is a personal intervention on some issue."
He confesses to divorce himself from a culture that is always eager to spotlight their point of view. "I'm just tired of my own voice, to be honest. I need to evolve before I go out there mouthing off things which I may not have the best idea about."
The Special pointedly avoids any overarching social commentary or political jargons. Much like his off-screen persona, the comedian is more than content to explore his personal equations and how they have changed over the course of his professional journey from a beginner to a brand in himself.
The only vaguely social more Talwar includes in his Special is a not-so-veiled section on men and modern dating culture. While talking of his girlfriend, he sweetly admits, "When she rejected me, her reasons sounded completely well-grounded. But when she began understanding what's out there¦ I started seeming like a catch."
Daily writing schedules and frequent open mics have always been reflection boards for most comedians. Understandably then, they swear on the efficacy of both these practices to sharpen a comic's set. Having lived indoors during the pandemic, Talwar admits it was difficult to not perform and test his sets during open mics. "When you're travelling, you get instant feedback from the room (you are performing in). You immediately understand that you've to work harder on a particular area in your set. Not getting the opportunity for such back-and-forth was a major setback."
Consequently, live shows posed a bigger challenge for him, he adds. "Getting adjusted to ambient noises, bad internet connections, and a plethora of other technical glitches while performing your act, can be nerve-wracking."
But he assures us that Aalas Motaapa Ghabraahat was tried and tested (within means), and promises that people will get to glance further into what he terms a 'black soul,' all the while having a riot.
Having honed the skill of sarcasm, Talwar's second Amazon special seems to be a coming-of-age bend in his career, where the comedian (much to the surprising irony of the show's title) comes across as grounded, content, and even secure.
Talwar's comedy is gradually taking on a personality of its own. He is slowly but assuredly becoming a voice that takes up the most benign facts and turns them on their head to extract every iota of mirth behind them.
Much like another of his father's 'useless' truisms, Talwar's twisted-but-adorable world-building compells you to believe, "Ache logon ke saaath, achha hi hota hai." (Only good befalls good people).
Aalas Motaapa Ghabraahat is streaming on Amazon Prime Video India.
(All images from YouTube)