Stand-up comedienne Sumukhi Suresh turned writer-actor in 2017 with the comedy-drama series Pushpavalli, which ran for two seasons and received much adulation. As the country waits for the next episode of this dark comedy, the jokesmith talks about online content creation, comedy specials, and her habit of juggling roles. By Adila Matra
Of all the things you have done, from stand-up comedy to writing and acting for an OTT platform, which one gratifies you the most?
Being a creator and actor is the most gratifying one. Live shows keep me on my toes to create better [stuff].
There’s a barrage of online content nowadays. What are the challenges you face as a comedy content creator?
There is never enough good content on any given day. So, the barrage of content isn’t my concern. The challenge lies in doing something different every time you create something—and not ‘different’ for the heck of it.
Tell us a bit about your foray into the world of comedy. What made you realise you were going to do this full-time?
I had a full-time job and ran a bakery while I was doing comedy in Bengaluru. I was working non-stop, trying to juggle all three. And then I thought to myself, ‘Why not focus all my energies on one of them?’ So, I quit my job, shut my bakery, and started doing comedy full time in 2015. Now I am juggling stand-up, show-running, and acting. So, you can say that old habits die hard.
You have created a host of personas over the years. Which one is your favourite?
My favourite is actually Sumukhi Chawla from Better Life Foundation (YouTube). It was the first time I played my age—before that, I was always asked to play an older character because of my body frame.
How did the idea for the character of Pushpavalli—a true-blue stalker—come about? How has the series changed you and your career?
I knew that I wanted to write about a girl who moves cities to stalk a boy because she is obsessed. What has finally gone out is the work of all the writers, the director, and the cast and crew. I got lucky with one of the best teams for my first creation. Pushpavalli (Amazon Prime Video) has put me on the map as a creator and actor. It has made people notice that leads of a show can look like regular people. Pushpavalli has also made me realise that I should make more shows, fast.
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What do you see in your future—more of stand-up or show writing?
Both! Always both! I am writing my special, two more shows, and a lot of micro content for social media and OTT.
The trip to Amsterdam when I got a call saying Pushpavalli S1 had been given the green light.
I want to see the Northern Lights, so wherever they are best seen from.
A show that inspired you to travel
Chef’s Table (Netflix).