Critically acclaimed Indian comedian and social critic Sanjay Rajoura was in town for the recent Social Media Mela in Karachi. One of the most refreshing comedians to ever visit Pakistan, Rajoura is casual, philosophical, hilarious and quite oddly, not active on Twitter. In conversation with The Express Tribune, he talks about his inspiration.
“It’s totally political and dark at the same time but there are a couple of things which make me angry — people’s idiocy, silliness, lack of understanding and respect for women,” Rajoura said at his performance that struck a chord with Karachiites. “I never write a script. I have these ideas in my mind of how I am going to speak and the advantage is that anytime I tell a story, it sounds like a different one.”
His unscripted acts allow him to share personal experiences with the audience. For instance, in one of his stand-up acts at the Social Media Mela he related an encounter he had with the Pakistani police. As he drove back to his hotel, an officer bugged him about being a secret agent and tried to get a bribe out of him. “At first I wasn’t sure how to handle the situation but then realised that this is the same thing — what is happening there (in India) is happening here (in Pakistan),” he laughed. When it comes to his acts, he claims to be more of a storyteller who uses satire to illustrate everyday life experiences. “Some things always transcend cultures,” said Rajoura. “But I believe that Pakistan has its own individuality and unique culture. For example ‘Coke Studio’ is really a Pakistani thing so when Indians tried to put it together, it was a super flop.”
How it all began
Back in India, Rajoura has become prominent in the stand-up comedy scene. His work is different from others as he incorporates satire and wit in his acts. Before this, he was working as an engineer in Silicon Valley, California. Sick of the monotony, Rajoura left his “respectable” life and salary in the United States and returned home, with no idea that he would one day turn into a comedian.
“The funniest thing in life for me, which lasted 10 years, was my previous job — it was a big joke. I used to ask myself: how could someone be such a big idiot?” says Rajoura who is turning 40. Commenting on his new career path, he added: “I left my job, returned home and had no idea what I would do. I sort of just stumbled upon this avenue, realising I am good at this and far better than others in this field.”
Rajoura confessed that he resents the comedy scene in India on certain levels primarily due to the lack of intellect employed. He believes it is heavily influenced by the West, consequently involving vulgar topics such as sex and drugs. “There are a lot of people who embraced the typical blueprint of American stand-up comedy which uses sex in humour — this is not what Indian culture signifies,” says Rajoura. “But now there are some who are bringing a different style — they are telling Delhi or Mumbai tales. So hopefully in a couple of years we may see a change.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2012.