A Comedy Called Life

E

Astrologers say a Venus star near the thumb joint on your hand means you have the gift of finding fun in life. Tamil theatre actor and director Mapilai Ganesh does not know whether he has that star or not, but he is sure that he can find the fun and the inspiration for his comic theatre from life.

Ganesh says he stumbled into theatre to rescue a friend, who was the head of a theatre company, from trouble. One of the actors didn't show up and Ganesh was pushed on stage to fill in. "I stumbled into this career. In 1981, when I did my first play, I fell in love with the stage. So I visited my love every now and then, and here I am, still in love even after 32 years," says Ganesh, who founded his own theatre company called Sathyasai Creations in 2001.

Ganesh is in the city with his 10-member troupe to perform Aavi Vandha Maapillai at an event organised by Pune City Tamil Sangam on Sunday. The play is a situational comedy about a medical student who gets possessed by a female spirit he had befriended to help him become a renowned doctor. It was a sellout in Chennai, where it was staged in January.

"I do not believe in cracking vulgar jokes to make the audience laugh. I am not against it, but it's just not my cup of tea. The audience I cater to consists of families, who come after a hectic week to have a good laugh. I consider my job done well if the audience walks out of the auditorium with jaws aching because of how much they have laughed," he says.

With a career in comedy that spans three decades, Ganesh says it's only natural for him to be funny. "Whenever there is a sticky situation, I start taking mental notes on how I can use it in the next comedy I will produce. Like my wife sometimes gets annoyed because of how much I travel, so I get some of my jokes from the way she yells at me," he laughs.

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