Stand-up comedian Sumukhi Suresh is well-known for her web series Pushpavalli (Amazon Prime). Starring as Pushpavalli in the series, we see her move from pursuing the man she is obsessed with from Bhopal to Bangalore in Season 1 to seeking revenge in Season 2 which premiered in March. The show’s edgy and slightly dark humour has a high entertainment quotient which turns you into a fan not just of the series but Sumukhi Suresh. In a chat, the comic talks about the series, her journey and more.
Q: From being a librarian and chef to a successful comic today.
Sumukhi: I studied Food Science in MOP Vaishnav College in Chennai.I moved to Bangalore and was working and the stand-up comedian gig was just by chance because I wanted to while away my evenings. I went and auditioned for The Improv, a show in Bangalore, and that’s where it all started.
Q: You had a natural flair for it and now you’ve made it big. Your fans love you.
Sumukhi: (Laughs) I don’t know; I hope so! Some fans get aggressive but most of them are sweet.
Q: Being a woman comic in India is not easy and there are very few of them. Was the journey easy for you?
Sumukhi: Before me, Kaneez Surka, Aditi Mittal, Neeti Palta and Anu Menon were all doing their bit at making sure that things were made easier for people who came in later. But now thankfully a lot of girls have stayed doing stand-up in the metros at least. Maybe what we need is more numbers which’ll make it easier for everyone to get an opportunity. The main reason why opportunities came to me was because of the availability of avenues, like YouTube and Instagram, which help you put out content. if you’re talented, you’ll be spotted. Secondly, OML (Only Much Louder) has done a fabulous job in managing me. As much as the writers and I made Pushpavalli happen, so did OML. But yes, it is very challenging to get to the audience – the audience is very used to a guy being funny. So they’re like what is this girl upto and guys are like you think you’re funny, I’m funny. In the last year, as I was touring, I realised my audience was 80 to 90% women and I love that!
Watch the trailer of Season 2:
Q: You talk about women’s issues like PCOD, body-shaming, etc, on stage as well as in Pushpavalli Season 1.
Sumukhi: I don’t consciously do it. I think if the story fits it, then yes. If I give it in a natural way, then you’ll be interested in listening. For me story and context is very important.
Q: Do you have anything in similar at all with Pushpavalli?
Sumukhi: I think a lot of people will relate to it because just like her, I’m also insecure. A lot of people are insecure, whatever may be the issue like looks or weight, etc. I’m also dealing with how to like myself as a person just like Pushpavalli. I think I’m as resourceful as her – except she uses it for the worst possible things and I don’t. (Laughs)
Season 2 is heart-broken Pushpavalli but still stalking Nikkil and wanting to get revenge.
Q: You’ve subverted the whole male stalker issue and made Pushpavalli a female stalker but one who’s quite different from what we associate a stalker would be.
Sumukhi: Sumaira Shaikh, one of the writers of Pushpavalli, brought up that when men stalk they tend to be predatory and when women pursue something, they tend to be manipulative. That is generally the gender profiling of a stalker and this is what we took into account. At the end of the day, Pushpavalli is an innocent girl; very low emotional and sexual quotient. She has no love for herself. She doesn’t even really like Nikhil – she’s like if he looks at me, I’m happy. Rather than subverting we were clear that she would be manipulative and we would be very mean to her on the show. (Smiles)
Q: You and Naveen Richard have worked together on numerous projects earlier.
Sumukhi: We met an improv workshop and I asked if he’d like to do a character on sketch that Richa and I did and then we worked together on a sketch called ‘Go Straight, take Left’. Naveen gave me my first web series ‘Better Life Foundation’ which remains my favourite. Naveen and I may not be the best of friends but when it comes to working, we’re very clear that we need to work together. We’re like work husband, work wife. (Smiles)