‘Door Khade Sharmaaye’: Come For The Nostalgia, Stay For Prashasti Singh’s Punchlines

By Deborah Cornelious 20 July 2023 3 mins read

On her debut comedy special 'Door Khade Sharmaaye', Prashasti Singh reminisces about growing up in Eastern UP, hostel days in Delhi, dating apps and 90s cinema.

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What’s love got to do with it? If we were to ask Prashasti Singh, she’d say it gives you greater perspective on people and yourself. The Uttar Pradesh native has been in love for almost four years now. The signs couldn’t have been clearer that she’s found her forever person. It would all be perfect, if he felt the same way too. But Singh’s not giving up so easily, as we find out on her debut special Door Khade Sharmaaye. Dropped in four parts on YouTube over the course of more than a month, the special’s title is a nod to Dil To Pagal Hai. It’s a film that’s messed up Singh more than any other Bollywood tear-jerker, and this special is all about detangling that mess.

Over almost an hour—split into two anecdotes and two bits of observational comedy—Singh walks down a well-trod path, telling funny little stories of childhood and adolescence before exploring her present circumstances. Her subjects—love and romance—are a standard staple in Indian comedy. She’s a single, mid-30s woman reminiscing about growing up in Eastern UP, hostel days in Delhi, dating apps and 90s cinema, flitting between deadpan put-downs and theatrical exasperation. What’s different, though, is the new, unpredictable routes she takes to these familiar old destinations.

The setups for her jokes are deliberately grounded in universal contexts. Who hasn’t been subjected to performing for visiting relatives as a child? Or spent multiple years hopping on and off dating apps to see the same set of men, who started out with full heads of hair wanting casual hookups but are now bald and want wives? Singh’s incredulous delivery, mixed with a generous helping of excellent physical comedy, is what elevates these jokes beyond the formulaic. She’s spent a year on the road with this show and it shows, as she confidently struts across the stage at the Bangalore International Centre, rattling off quips and punchlines at breakneck speed.

Singh is as confused as we are about the state of romance these days. When she tells stories of “boy talk” with girlfriends, or of toeing the line of authority at her hostel, anyone who’s ever tried to be good growing up (and failed) is in on the joke. Her recounting of a drunken performance of ‘Namak Ishq Ka’ to impress a male suitor who may or not be single is truly a highlight, making you cringe in sympathy.

Singh’s incredulous delivery, mixed with a generous helping of excellent physical comedy, is what elevates these jokes beyond the formulaic.

The decision to chop up this debut show into smaller, more easily consumable parts is a curious one. Commercially, it seems to have paid off, with each part earning hundreds of thousands of views, and that’s before you get to all the engagement on the Shorts she’s cut and released. Creatively though, it’s more of a mixed bag.

By removing the need for hard-to-nail segues, it lends a certain crispness to each segment that would be hard to accomplish otherwise. But this approach has drawbacks too. Though enjoyable individually, the four parts don’t quite come together to make a cohesive whole. Instead of a special, it feels more like four videos extracted from a longer set. There aren’t any running jokes or callbacks, no connecting links, and no engagement with the audience.

It’s unlikely though, that there will be any complaints about the performance itself. It’s all very warm and wholesome. Singh keeps her jokes clean, with minimal profanity and even less controversy. There are no political rants or soapbox sermons. Even a few light jabs at the Marwadi community are cushioned with compliments. Then there’s her inherent likability, which she deploys to great effect. It pulls the audience in even when she’s talking about a ridiculous dance competition at a house party where she’s giving it her (incredibly embarrassing) all.

I am curious to see how Singh’s work evolves as she goes forward. For now though, it’s enough to see Singh play the goofy, lovable raconteur on Door Khade Sharmaaye—gesticulating wildly as she tells embarrassing stories to make her friends (in this case the audience) feel slightly better about their own trials and failures.


Deborah Cornelious


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