Sunday, 17 February 2013

Bringing Australia and India closer, one laugh at a time

Humour, laughter and comedy are the best way to build bridges between cultures. I believe that humour can strengthen ties between India and Australia. This is the theme of the documentary and book that I’m writing with the support of the Australia India Council under the auspices of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The documentary is titled, You gotta laugh, mate and the book is, The surreal diary of an Aussie Indian.  
As part of the project, I conducted interviews and discussions in Australia and India. I’ve just returned from India where I visited Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Mumbai.
Returning to India was like returning to my second home. I’m fortunate to be able to call both India and Australia home. I was born in India and it was Australia that taught me to laugh at myself. My return to India for this project was a different kind of journey. It was a hectic road trip, going in and out of airports and hotels, facing all kinds of weather and challenges while traveling. In between I fitted in media interviews arranged by C. Shekar Nambiar, Senior Adviser, Media & Advocacy at the Australian High Commission.
One thing that was outstanding in all the places I visited was the generosity of people and willingness to share their stories. I’ll be featuring people I met over the next few months so watch this space.
I was invited to do three gigs out of which I could manage two. One was at Urban Solace, a comedy room run by Perry Menzies in Bengaluru and the other was at Kolkata Toastmasters. The third gig was at the Comedy Store in Mumbai which I could not fit in around the hectic schedule of interviews but hope to return there for a gig one day.
I was a bit worried as there were my first gigs in India. Would people in India laugh at the same things as my Australian audiences? They did, which could indicate that humour and laughter are universal.
A representative from a comedy group in Kolkata approached me after my gig and asked:
If we paid your fare, would you be willing to return to India to take part in a comedy show?
I grinned and said: I think I could.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Q and A with Chandra. Photographer for You gotta laugh, mate

Q. When did you get interested in photography and films?
A.    I could simply say I was born interested in films and photography. My Dad’s hobby was photography, which I guess inspired me the most at a very young age, despite those expensive cameras that I broke.

Q. What are the films and who are the directors who influenced you?

A.    I am not really inspired with a particular film as such. However I learn and get inspired and influenced by all sort of films and directors in all languages may it be English, French, Chinese, Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, just to name a few.

Q. What films have you completed so far?
A.    A couple of short films have me on the credit list, My Husband(Camera and Title animation), Broken Superman( Assistant Cameraman and Title), Sarah’s Jihad( Title animation).

Q. What future plans do you have for film making?
A.    I would love to write and direct a feature film sometime.

Q. What are your hobbies?

A.    Photography, watching movies, sewing, computers.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Bringing Australia and India closer, one laugh at a time

What’s the best way to export goodwill from Australia to India and vice versa?  I think it’s with humour, comedy and laughter. I’ll be conducting interviews in India and Australia for a short documentary You gotta laugh, mate and also researching my book, The surreal diary of an Aussie Indian.

This documentary brings together an extremely talented group including Head Scriptwriter Amanda Scotney. Amanda is a Melbourne based film maker and writer. Amanda has made two short films My Husband (2012) and After Eight (2002). Her poem The Kind of Girl You’d Meet in a Pinball Parlour was published in Island Magazine  (1990) and reviewed in Oxford Journals (1991).

My Husband has been warmly received by audiences at its first two screenings. It will be screening again at an exhibition in St Kilda Town Hall in February 2013 together with Sarah’s Jihad by Zev Howley.

Zev Howley is working as a Technical Consultant for my short documentary You gotta laugh, mate. He brings with him a wealth of experience. Zev’s award winning short films include Broken Superman, Holiday to Remember and Sarah’s Jihad. Zev has also worked on several documentaries.

I think humour is the best way to build bridges between cultures. When I first arrived in Australia I was taken by the Aussie catch phrase- You gotta laugh, mate. It captures the essence of Australia. I believe that humour is one of Australia’s biggest untapped sources of international goodwill. With this documentary and book, I’m looking to gather stories from people both in India and Australia who’ve used humour to create harmony.  I’m hoping it can help to bring Australia and India closer, one laugh at a time.

Monday, 17 December 2012

From Melbourne to Mumbai: On the laughter track
 When I arrived in Australia I was rather quiet and serious.Then I joined Humourversity and that changed. I'm still quiet and serious when it's needed but I've also discovered laughter. Now I'm writing a book The Surreal Diary of an Aussie Indian and producing a short documentary You gotta laugh, mate, taking interviews in both India and Australia as part of the Humour and Harmony project supported by the Australia India Council.

Humourversity taught me three disciplines of humour, comedy and laughter. 

Established in 1973, it's a unique and popular institution that has changed a lot of lives for the better.

In 1973, after performing as a stand-up comedian around Australia for 12 years and in Sydney as the comedy hero, half-a-mo Pete Crofts began studying Australian Humour and Comedy. Pete is a pioneer in many ways. He organised the Humour, Comedy and Laughter League which became the first laughter club in Australia.

In 1980, the Humour, Comedy and Laughter Centre became Humourversity. Pete also organised Australia's first Humour Festival which started the momentum for what has now become the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

You can check out their website at


Sunday, 22 July 2012

What is Bollywood?

People often ask me the origin of the name ‘Bollywood’. We know where Hollywood comes from and we also know that there’s an actual place called Hollywood. But is there a place called Bollywood?

Sorry to let you down folks, but there is no place called Bollywood with a big sign like the Hollywood sign though I do think it’s time we had one. Maybe we can get the Melbourne City Council to set up a place called Bollywood right here in Melbourne. We can have something that Sydney doesn’t!

Bollywood does not refer to the whole Indian film industry but only to the Hindi films made in Mumbai. This does not include regional films made in other parts of India. Guess what else? Bollywood is the biggest film industry in the world.

The word Bollywood is a mix of Bombay (the former name of Mumbai) and Hollywood. The first two letter Bo.. are from Bombay and …llywod are from Hollywood, which gives you Bollywood.
Here’s another interesting fact. If you watch a Bollywood movie, you’ll notice a new type of English which is called Hinglish and is a mix of English and Hindi. With about 350 million people speaking Hinglish, a British linguist called David Crystal estimates that soon Hinglish speakers will be more than English speakers!

Want to know more about the exotic and funny world of Bollywood? Why not come and see Bollywood Comedy at the Celtic Club on Sep 28th 2012 at 8pm. There’s one show only and tickets will be available in August through the Melbourne Fringe festival. Hurry! One show only.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Irish Bollywood?

Bollywood Comedy is coming to you on Sept 28th at the Celtic Club, the home of Irish tradition in Melbourne. When I mentioned our show to my Laughter Leader Jim Kane, he grinned and said.
‘What better place to have a Bollywood Comedy than at an Irish club. You should call it Bolly Celtic Wood.’
Bollywood Comedy brings you stand-up comedy and Bollywood dancing. Dancing is as much an Irish tradition as it is an Indian one. My friend Jane, a fantasy writer, who’s published several fascinating books, had something to say about combining Bollywood dancing and Irish dancing.
‘The Irish don’t use their hands while dancing. Bollywood dancers on the other hand use their hands a lot. Maybe you could have an Irish dancer in front and a Bollywood dancer behind, so you’d see the Irish dancers legs and the Bollywood dancers hands.’
I’d love to hear what readers of my blog think about these ideas. You are welcome to post your comments. Let the fun begin!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Bollywood Comedy- Join in the fun

For the first time ever, Bollywood dancers and Indian Australian comedy come together in a night fit for a rajah!

An exotic blend of stand-up comedy and Bollywood dancers from the subcontinent, Bollywood Comedy features Helene Murray, Uma, Michael Connell and Nildhara Gidhani with Bollywood Beats in a show guaranteed to spice up your life.

Hurry! One night only! At the Celtic Club, 316-320 Queens St, Melbourne at 8pm on Friday Sept 28th. Watch this space for more updates and fun facts about Bollywood.