Sunday, May 9

To the City of Joy, with love and laughs

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The vibrant Papa CJ, the global face of Indian stand-up comedy, ran up to the stage and regaled the audience with his experiences across the world and his take on life. He ended his routine quickly but continued to have “A Friendly Banter” with senior journalist and author Vir Sanghvi for the next hour.

The two of them unveiled the cover of CJ’s debut book, ‘Naked’, based on a hilarious and, at the same time, moving show he had taken around the world. The comedian explained that he had drawn the content from his life, taking it down brick by brick, standing completely naked in the end, free of shackles. “In my nakedness, I’m revealing everything to you,” CJ said.

Sanghvi, who lived in Kolkata from 1986 to 1994, said he loved its food but did not have a must-visit restaurant. His favourite turned out to be phuckas. “The best food in Kolkata is found on streets and in people’s homes,” he said. CJ, of course, had his favourite: Rolls at Nizam’s behind New Market. And the taste was built during his 19-year stay in Kolkata, his home. In fact, as Sanghvi pointed out, CJ’s book was an autobiographical journey, his growing-up years in Calcutta in the 80s before liberalization, and his life later. “It’s a laugh-out-loud work but you’ll have tears in your eyes,” Sanghvi said. Reminiscing about Kolkata, Sanghvi pointed out that the city had a certain charm back then. Long power cuts, no phone calls and a lot of other inconveniences notwithstanding, the city had a warmth that held people together. Kolkata was known for its people—real people—and their warmth, he said. “Whenever people ask me, I say I live in Delhi but I am from Kolkata,” said CJ,who spends every Christmas and New Year in Kolkata. Sanghvi said he believed Kolkata was still the ‘City of Joy’. “There’s something in Calcutta that gives you hope and joy,” he said.

Turning the conversation to Sanghvi’s book, ‘The Game Changers’, CJ said he was impressed by the phrase, resentment is more powerful than performance. “We are now in an India where people vote for a government not because it performs well but because it has picked an enemy that you think is your enemy too,” Sanghvi explained. In his book, Sanghvi spoke about an India that was different from what it was 10 years ago. “A new middle class has come up… you may agree with their views or not. But here are middle-class success stories,” he said.

Sanghvi asked CJ how he pulled off routines without using expletives or demeaning others, as was common with other comedians. “I believe it’s a self-discovery journey. I have no problem embarrassing people but I don’t want to hurt people,” was CJ’s reply.

As the session drew to a close, Sanghvi said, “We live in a world, where it seems we don’t appreciate books and conversations any more. But the success of a lit fest shows we still do, we need the opportunity.”

 

Source: Times of India

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