In India, where arranged marriage continues to rule most women’s life, Aditi Mittal stands out independently with her blue and red highlights, at the age of 30 and yes single!
India knows about Aditi Mittal. She is, as Netflix described her “trailblazing” and not only because she is one of the very few woman standup comedians who have a full house, but because of what she says in there. She talks sarcastically about everything and defends herself against all these traditions too. (Come on, you have to look her up if you don’t know her already)
After Netflix made its way in India and announced its first Indian comedy special, starring Vir das, Amazon Prime swopped in and signed 14 male comedians for their specials. And that is when Netflix grabbed the deal and announced that they would be giving Aditi Mittal, a standup comedy exclusive. “Things they wouldn’t let me say” is the second comedy special on Netflix and the very first one from a woman’s world. (Whoa, way to go girls!)
Things they wouldn’t let me say revolves around everything from sex to menstruation and penis in between and the audience has a very warm response towards her humour.
The show starts off with her recalling incidents of harassments and catcalling, with some very sharp details and observations. The transitions from the harassment done on streets to ending it with the punch line at Taj Mahal is beautifully done. Though the airport part does start in an unimpressive manner, with unwanted and almost offensive jokes on terrorism on Agartala, but the roundabout is humorous with the joke on “women always wanting to pee”. Kids being nuisances on the plane did make its way in, but the joke was not on them but the solution to the ruckus they create.
Aditi makes a true effort on highlighting her love for bawling and crawling kids by cracking the floor with jokes on the little ones and their birth givers. ‘Baby product ads’ and ‘Hamley’s’ easily highlight this bit, with good humour being delivered to the house in a resonating manner.
Given in an hour into the show, I was still proud her for breaking all stereotypes and glass ceiling, but well that was it. I counted my laughs and well the number wasn’t something too great. I almost watched the rest of the show with a lazy smile, and that was it.
The show in a way lacks the freshness of content and style that Mittal is known for. Jokes about her being single because marriage is not her cup of tea, Punjabis being Punjabis and loud, babies being annoying at the airport and crying at movie theatres and men being obsessed with boobs and penis, are entraining with her facial expression and rolling eyes, but the jokes themselves are old.
One of the most stand out moments is when Mrs Lutchuke comes in. She is an old Marathi woman, with a hunchback and gives in quirky distinctive pieces of advice about sex. Mittal, as Mrs Lutchuke has always been a riot and her appearance on the show for eight minutes was no different. She uses the character to hide behind that white hair and wrinkled face and say things about “sex” as she feels that if an old woman says something about sex, it appears harmless but the same words coming out of a young woman, make her sex obsessed. Her performance again is on point and the visual is refreshing but the content is again flat. Describing the cups of bra size and men asking men to fake foreplay as women can fake an orgasm for them, is all something she has said before. There is also the dangerous cliché like “nothing turns a woman on like hearing the words “I love you” but for men its “blow job”.
There is one witty audience interaction riff through which her confidence is unshakeable. Her flow and stage play shows her years of experience. When one open question, fails to get an answer, she ironically saves the moment with “Guys, please, this is being recorded”. YES, THAT is the level of self- awareness fleeting in her show.
In conclusion, “Things they wouldn’t let me say” has its moments. And it is obviously a big win against the cult of brotherhood within the India comedy special space. But I wouldn’t live, what Aditi did get a chance to finally say was nothing that I hadn’t heard before.