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August 5, 2019

Aravind SA on Hindi Imposition, Writing and Insecurity (2019 Interview)

Introduction

Aravind SA is a Tamil comedian from Chennai and arguably the most popular of the stand-up comics currently from South India, although I’m not sure why he hasn’t been given a Wikipedia.

He’s also a good buddy of mine and we recently chatted about stand up comedy in Bangalore and India.

He’s most well known for his Amazon comedy special I was Not Ready Da and Madrasi Da, as well as various acting and digital work. He used to work with Evam Stand Up comedy Tamsha, then Green Room and now does a bunch of different things like film making and advertisements and voice-overs for a BBC documentary, although he’s mainly a stand-up comedian in India.

What’s the National Language of India?

One thing that’s great about stand up comedy in a place as passionate as India, or at least Indian twitter and media portals, is the entire Hindi disposition and debate on the language.

The wonderful part of the arguments of course, on whether Hindi or Tamil or Urdu or Punjabi or Gujarati should be the main languages…is that all these arguments happen in English.

I just love it.

I’m all for Hindi if you know it, and yes, by the numbers, for sure…most people in this country speak it.

But I don’t, and SA doesn’t, and even the Big Bollywood folks who pretend they do daily actually speak English at home and just appeal to the masses who’s ticket sales they need..so I mean, I get it.

I’ve never been to a Karan Johar Bandra party bit I imagine it’s more English than anything.

I honestly believe if the drivers/maids/working class needs a fair shot at upwards class mobility, they’ll need to learn English eventually.

If you tweet that “we need to teach the poor English” some middle-class person who speaks it finely will say you’re being elitist and racist.

But I’m sure if that driver or maid also knew English and made easy money in some fluffy corporate job like that guy, well…you get where I’m going.

Tamil versus Hindi
Tamil is great also ok? Yeah yeah I get it.

Can you be rich in this country with only Hindi?

Of course, I’m sure plenty of factory owners in the North do just fine.

Will English help you get miles ahead into an office job or internet job?

Yup.

How do you say SEO and on-page optimization in Hindi?

Indians are the most racist to each other.

It seems strange that even in my own YouTube channel, people have a problem with my accent, as if it’s fake.

Do folks from Kenya comment on Will Smith’s videos wondering why he has an “accent?”

Or do we just have a weird English hangover/insecurity?

One thing I loved from our chat is SA saying that it was a bummer his friends in San Jose California all try to enjoy his special around the TV, yet the North Indians at the house party lose interest or get bored.

“If I can watch one Hindi fu*k all special of yours, watch one South Indian fu*k all special of mine OK?”

Some podcast highlights.

It seems we as Indians love to chant Indian pride on the world stage and get super defensive if you say something negative about the country, yet the one thing we love the most is having a problem with each other.

Either way, all part of the experience 🙂

The full audio and video interviews are here.

CONCLUSION

I really enjoyed this chat, because although yes, Hindi is probably the most common “by the numbers” language, it’s very similar to Cantonese in Hong Kong versus Mandarin in China. Even though way less people speak Cantonese, ain’t nobody gonna stop speaking it.

Everybody talks about Indian pride and also individuality, so maybe it’s time we celebrate the differences in order to find our similarities.

Also: Ten Mistakes Indian Stand Up Comedians Make

Also: How to Do Stand Up Comedy in India

Also: Best Podcasts in India you Need to Hear

Birdy Num Num Podcast

Make sure to like and listen to the Birdy Num Num podcast each week for stories that inspire the creative Indian, because life begins after Engineering!

Let me know if this helped you or any comments?