Stand-up comedian Gaurav Gupta on his latest show, Market Down Hai, that's streaming on Amazon Prime Video
'Hi, my name is Gaurav Gupta and I am a baniya’. That’s how 35-year-old stand-up comedian Gaurav introduces himself in front of an auditorium or club full of people. What follows next is a series of hilarious observations about baniyas (a business class community), Delhi and its various quirks, the conversations at home, his childhood, and how it was in contrast to that of his Punjabi friends. As Gaurav gears up for his first special, Market Down Hai, we ask him what is in store for his fans out there: Excerpts:
Q: Tell us the story behind your title, Market Down Hai? Is it a comment on life during the pandemic?
During my childhood and growing up years, whenever I would reach out to my father for pocket money or actually anything (laughs), his standard reply would be — Market Down Hai. So I turned his dialogue which was omnipresent during my childhood into the title of my show but it was done in 2018 and although it fits the current situation, it is only a coincidence.
Q: What does this stand-up special have in store for us?
It is a family comedy featuring a middle-class family and funny encounters one would have with parents while also sharing experiences from childhood, observations on relatives, being a parent, and arranged versus love marriage. I hope people like it.
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Q: What does it mean to have a special? What are the challenges of having an hour-long show?
For any stand-up comedian, it is a dream to have an hour-long show. We start with three-minute clips, which gradually become five minutes then 15-minutes, and then a half-hour show. So, it is a privilege to have one and that too on an international platform like Amazon Prime Video. But, of course, it is very challenging to maintain the flow and momentum of the show throughout, and raise your performance to a level that even if the audience’s energy falls; they continue to watch it till the very end.
Q: A lot of your observations are about life as a baniya and running a shop? Did you ever run a shop?
The whole observation around Chawri Bazaar, galla (where shopkeepers keep cash), dukaan (shop) came from my maternal uncle who runs a shop in Laxmi Nagar (East Delhi) and his life. We are very close to him as a family and a lot of my observations come from his life and his house, which is like a second home for me. During my school’s summer breaks, my mother would say a very traditional dialogue which is used in most baniya households — ‘what are you doing at home, go and help at the shop’ — but in this case, it was my uncle’s shop. So I would go there, collect cash and run small errands. And, a lot of observations from that time become a part of my set.
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Q: You are a dentist by profession and it was in your 30s that you made the transition. What were the challenges?
A baniya family sees their children as an investment (laughs). So, they invested in my education, sent me to dental school, and then helped me set up a clinic, so when I chose to pursue comedy — in my 30s, when I am also married — my family found it hard to understand why I want to crack jokes at a restaurant or a club. It is taboo if you are not pursuing a conventional profession and then there is always a question looming around: what will he end up doing? But it took about one or two years for them to understand and eventually they were happy when they saw the success and response.
Streaming on Amazon Prime Video.