Rohan Joshi's Wake N' Bake paints the perfect picture of a thinking individual in trying political times
When Rohan Joshi announced that he would soon come up with his first stand up special on Amazon Prime, there was a underlying sense of, "what will he talk about?"
Owing to the widespread speculation his comedy group All India Bakchod (AIB) received post the MeToo deluge India witnessed in late 2018, each individual from the group has kept a low profile.
Joshi, a potent presence on "the Gram", has openly discussed his misgivings with casual sexism and notorious senses of humour prevalent in his field. So, for his followers to wonder what Mojo Rojo might choose as his subjects, was hardly surprising. But Joshi surprises with Wake N' Bake — that too pleasantly.
Oscillating between the 'meh' moments (few in number) and the 'mind=blown' anecdotes, Wake N' Bake is everything a thinking, slightly aware individual would say or do in the politically charged times of today. The comedian's awareness is intelligently masked in his humility to accept he is not the most well-versed, well-deserved, or even well-positioned spokesperson to do the job.
Understandably then, we find Joshi right smack in the middle of a not-so-midlife crisis. All of 36, Rohan opens with a few wisecracks at ageing, and the inevitable transformation from bhaiyya to uncle. The laughs come in intermittently, while Joshi serves one lighthearted treat after another.
"For the first time in my life, the giddy certainty of youth has been replaced by a lot of questions. And it’s fun," says Joshi, when asked about his existential crisis. The 'fun' factor, as Joshi himself puts it, comes with a mature perspective. Essentially, he is "someone who’s at the older cusp of being a millennial," Joshi states clearly. And this fits perfectly with his unassuming persona, a fact which reflects throughout his set.
From unsolicited queries on his marriage to a detailed account of how his own perception changed about the institution, Joshi sounds almost like a mouthpiece for men and women in their 30s. "When I was a child, I loved the concept of marriages but as I grew older, I realised when you're young, you see a lot of weddings, but in your 30s, you see a lot of marriage," (dramatic pause) "and the two give you wildly different perspectives."
Joshi's humour invites you for a good meal and better dessert but leaves you with an aftertaste of discomfort, just because he speaks his truth unabashedly. Bits about marriage, children, and friends give way to concurrent issues of class, privilege, and disenfranchisement.
With a bird's eye-view of most sociopolitical issues around him, Joshi's comedic voice elevates to become a world-weary, slightly overwhelmed, and accepting account of how he "does not know."
At the outset, Rohan accepts he has purposefully refrained from opining on every matter just because he has the platform to. He admits the fact that he does not know things gives him more space to learn and grow. He wishes to take a backseat on issues to let ones involved express their sides of the narrative.
This transformation has had effects on his comedy too. "I think my comedic voice is a combination of observational and topical, but it wasn’t that way always. I have phases. When I was younger and less informed, it was more observational. Then as I learned a little bit about the world, it became more news-based and topical, and now, I think since I’m having an existential crisis, it’s more observational again," says Joshi.
But removing yourself from the limelight so that others may have an agency is never enough — a fact which the comedian is well aware of. In a beautiful, semi-theatrical manner, Rohan walks the talk (literally), and maps his fortunate status on the privilege food chain. He defines himself as a South Bombay-born, English-educated, fair-skinned, cisgender, heterosexual, Hindu, Brahmin man (with special emphasis on 'man'). Describing each of these adjectives as a floor in an ivory tower, Joshi jokes, "I just need to go vegan, and they'll give me the penthouse."
This section is not only refreshing but also laudable, considering every celebrity strives to emphasise their struggles, blithely ignoring the freeways they may have taken to achieve success. He effortlessly agrees with a possible truth that these adjectives thrust him into a niche comfortably unaffected by most divisive socioeconomic upheavals that threaten to destroy the country at present — so how does he become the rightful voice for any subject?
Since Rohan has been quite open about his battles with maintaining good mental health, the comedian has often reminisced about times he has had his self confidence paralysed, especially during his days in engineering college. But in this set, he plainly says he has seen very few things in his cocooned life to provide meaningful insights into tectonic events.
But that is not to say that Joshi steers clear of dissent. He is not hesitant to make his audiences laugh with witty jibes on Uttar Padesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath or the crippling economy of India.
Lastly, he more than justifies the not-so-elusive title of the show with a rib-tickling section on legalisation of marijuana. In a special bit, the comedian reiterates he wants to stand for elections, waking n' baking his voters to happy spaces.
And happy or not, Joshi's tired resignation seems a more welcome attribute than the dozens around refusing to align with one faction or another, just to be 'safe.' It's important to say something with what you create. Joshi excels in that regard with his intelligent digs at the establishment.
Wake N' Bake is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video India.
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Updated Date: Jan 11, 2020 14:22:39 IST