Film

Aditi Mittal “Things They Wouldn’t Let Me Say” Review

I am thirty. I am single. And I am an Indian woman.

And I’ve realized that being thirty and single and an Indian woman is like being that Tupperware container at the back of the fridge where you’re like, “Is this still good?”

Aditi Mittal’s standup comedy show on Netflix mostly generated interest because Amazon signed 14 male standup comedians, several of them new faces, and not a single one of India’s established funny ladies. This is when Netflix swooped in to stand up for “feminism”.

The unfortunate problem with that narrative is that Aditi was immediately judged for every word, every sound, every gesture, rather than being enjoyed for her hilarious bilingual (sometimes trilingual) act with ample Bollywood references and relatable everyday jokes. Her show so far seems to have received rather lukewarm reviews with comments usually ranging from, “I’ve heard this before” (oh) to “she’s too shrill” (what?!). Luckily for me, I live under a rock, so Aditi’s jokes were completely novel compared to the other Indian and international comics that I have watched. I loved it.

Aditi’s comedy is contextual. She speaks from the perspective of an urban, anglicized, filmy, modern, independent, bratty Indian woman. I relate. Clearly.

I love her larger-than-life delivery and her daft facial expressions. I laughed out loud for most of her performance. The laughter unfortunately did peter out towards the middle when Aditi reentered the stage as┬áDr Lutchuke. Sure, her old lady act was impressive for about a minute, but this was the first time that her performance devolved into hackneyed sex jokes. For some reason, standup comedians seem to be incapable of coming up with funny material without alluding to, or smacking you over the head with, references to sex. And this is exclusively the reason that I think Kenny Sebastian wins hands down. He’s funny because he doesn’t go for the easy laughs, his material is always unexpected!

For instance, one of the best comic performances that I’ve seen recently is by new kid on the block Urooj Ashfaq:

Aditi saves the final moments of her show with some mildly funny jokes on the Delhi party scene, a surprisingly laugh-out-loud arc on sanitary napkins and an unfortunate fizzle with digs at Miss India that honestly fell flat.

For the first half, Aditi’s expressions are priceless and her take on Punjabi-Sindhi families, eve-teasing, airports, kids with unpronounceable names keep one in splits with loud guffaws all around. Like any Hindi movies, the performance flags in the second half with the highlight being the denouement surrounded by below-par material. Overall, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable hour, if watched to laugh, rather than to judge.

 

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