Domestic help by day, standup comic by night

Domestic help by day, standup comic by night

Deepika Mhatre

A year ago, at a small gathering in Mumbai, a domestic help stood on the podium cracking up the audience there. She was breaking not only long-standing kitchen 'rules' but a few glass ceilings as well. At that very moment, Deepika Mhatre was rewriting her own destiny. 

A year on, she is churning out more funny lines than 'rotis'.

Deepika Mhatre has been struggling to make both ends meet, on a shoestring budget, for as long as she can remember. The lone breadwinner of her family -- comprising an ailing husband and three daughters -- she wakes up at 4 am every day, gets on the local train from her home in the Mumbai suburb of Nala Sopara to Malad where she cooks at five households till 4 pm. On her journey to and fro, she sells imitation jewellery. 

Clearly, fate had other plans for her!  

"My stint in standup comedy started when Sangeeta Madam (Sangeeta Vyas), my employer, arranged a talent show for us (domestic help, cooks etc). I did a comedy show and a journalist who was in the audience spotted my talent and encouraged me," she says.

"The word passed on and soon comedian Aditi Mittal met me through Sangeeta madam and started mentoring me. She introduced me on 'Bad Girls' (Aditi Mittal's YouTube series)," she recollects.

Deepika's role as a standup comic starts in the evening after she finishes her day job. Ironically, she finds humour in her monotonous everyday toil. Indeed, what makes her shows tick are her tongue-in-cheek lines, more often, pointing fingers at the social inequalities prevalent in the society and even among the educated.

To shed more light on this, she quotes some of the punchlines from her shows.

"I'm very special. The building I work in has a special elevator for me. The house I work in has special utensils only for me..." 

"People I worked for did treat me well. But that's not the case of other maids," she says.

Deepika's entry into the professional stage is reaping benefits slowly, but financially, there is nothing to write home about.

“There is not much income from comedy shows although I do get publicity. I make my livelihood these days from selling jewellery. Since I have high blood sugar now, I can't stand for long hours and cook. My eldest daughter has a job but my financial situation is still bad. The second daughter is in college and the third is still in school. I would like to request the public to help me,” she says.

Meanwhile, Deepika's enthusiasm spills out when she speaks about the 'Leddis Night', the show she did with Aditi Mittal in Bengaluru. "I would like to do more shows there. Call me," she says.

"I am always excited to perform standup comedy, whichever the stage maybe. Right now, there is a good space for women to present their comic talents, and more women should come out of the closet," she adds before going back to her daily chores.

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