It all started with a story

comedian nitin mandal

Nitin Mandal talks to Sangeeta Yadav about his love for making others laugh

For him, life is all about stories that make others laugh. Not that the highs and lows of finding his footing in the fledgling field of stand-up comedian deterred 24-year-old Nitin Mandal. He literally laughed his way through and is today a well-known comedian in the Capital’s stand-up circuit.

“I had a lavish childhood. My father was a supervisor with the New Delhi Municipal Corporation and my grandmother a Central Government employee. When I was in Class VII, my grandmother got transferred to Bhopal and we all had to shift out with her. The struggles started from there. My father had many business failures, so much so that he had to sell vegetable on a pushcart. Watching my father through those days was disturbing. I was of no help, ” Mandal who lives at Jangpura Extension and is working as a video editor in a start-up company, tells you.

Despite the bad time, his father made sure that his sons studied at a private school. “I used to send my dad home to take rest and sell tea to supplement the earnings. I also sold  water pouches to earn Rs 120 a day. The happiness I used to get by contributing Rs 250 to the family was boundless,” Mandal recalls.

After his grandmother retired, the family shifted to Vrindavan and Mandal to Delhi. “I was 15 years old when I came back to Delhi and started working with a garment showroom at Lajpat Nagar as a helper. I used to clean glass doors and fold the clothes for Rs 3,500 a month. After six months, I quit and joined a call centre selling credit cards. I collected Rs 20,000 and went back to Bhopal a few months before my Class XII exams,” Mandal says.

His love for computer games got him to study animation and filmmaking at Academy of Animation and Gaming, Noida. “I loved gaming so much that I wanted to make one myself. My father sold a plot in Bhopal to put in Rs 5 lakh for my studies. The course was as tough and stressful as doing Maths or Accounts. I was unable to learn much. But I didn’t wanted my father’s money to go waste so in the final year, I took specialisation in film making and editing and did an internship and odd-jobs of video editor with a photography company and teacher at Amity University,” Mandal tells you.

But destiny had something else planned. “Back then, theatre started trending. Once he went to meet a friend working in that field and I saw people auditioning for a play. I also gave it a shot and got selected,” he remembers.

It was during his first play 36 Defence Colony that he got to know about the open mic platform. “It was a new concept. My friend registered for poetry and I decided to do mimicry. I developed a story around India losing the Cricket World Cup and how the Bollywood celebrities were reacting to it. When I was done, all I could hear was loud applause and cheers. That was my life changing moment. I started scripting jokes on my height and fat body,” and from there on Mandal became a popular artist.

There has been no looking back. He soon started a production house titled Chhoti Chipkali. “I am doing comedy just because of my friend and co-founder of my production house. She has supported me through thick and thin. There was a time when I was performing out of Delhi but not getting a spot for open mic. Senior comedian and directors started dominating the industry and pulling down new comedians. A senior comedian told me ‘Talaab me bahut saare magarmuchh hain. Agar tumhe talaab me rehna hai toh tumhe unke sath banake rakhni hoga. Tabhi tumhe spot milega.’ But I was not one to boot-lick. I told him, ‘agar tum magarmuchh ho toh main hoon chhoti chipkali. Chhoti chhipkali se panga nahi lena.’ That’s how I got the name for my production house,” Mandal, who is planning to launch new comedians under his banner, says.

It was Rishi Mehta from Behroopiya Entertainers that gave him a chance to direct his comedy show which became a rage. “Nishant Suri, Pooja Vijay and I did our first stand-up show under Behroopiya titled Nautankee Saale. I also directed shows in collaboration with Gujjar Boys Nazarbattu with Dalveer and Satbeer. Other shows were Draamebaazi, Nikamme Kahin Ke, Matargashti, Gareeb Rajkumars, Crazy Four, Mastikhor and many others. I performed at three different places the same night,” Mandal says.

Today, Mandal stands tall on a portfolio of over 150 performances in one-and-a-half years as also a radio show titled Radio Ka Ghanta. He earns over Rs 40,000 a month through his work. “Delhi’s stand-up comedy circuit is the best in India as we have four open mics in a week and club shows too,” he tells you.

(The article also got published in Pioneer Newspaper – http://www.dailypioneer.com/sunday-edition/sunday-pioneer/backpack/it-all-started-with-a-story.html).

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