It was not the first time the joke was on Karthik Kumar. He has faced quite a bit of ribbing ever since Mani Ratnam’s Alaippayuthe and began to be typecast as the American bridegroom in Tamil movies. Earnest, professional and serious, Karthik Kumar was the well heeled loser. And trolls loved him.
Reinventing himself as a comedian, he turned the joke on others. His comedy didn’t go quite as far as the roasts of All India Bakchod, but it went pretty far. He had fun poking fun at his own middle class milieu. In a series called Second Decoction — he talked about how his grandmother hoarded kilograms of milk sachets.
But then Suchileaks struck. And the joke was once again on him. Some 7,500 people signed up as his followers on Twitter. They stayed as his followers even after Suchileaks faded away from public memory. Why? “Hope,” Karthik replied at the Good Shepherd Convent auditorium in Bangalore, where his stand-up comedy show Blood Chutney premièred in September 2017. ‘Hope’ that somehow the promised X-rated celebrity videos would come from his handle, if not from his wife and film playback singer Suchitra’s. But all they got were comedy show schedules and random musings, bordering on the philosophical, he said at the show.
Best known in Chennai as the co-founder of Evam, a theatre and arts entertainment group, Karthik says he had a “torridly difficult” year when Suchileaks struck. His wife’s Twitter handle became all the rage on social media when it started hosting porn videos, promising more X-rated clips of Tamil film stars. Titillating countdowns to upcoming revelations drew thousands of followers to the handle — at one time it had more than 4.5 lakh of them. About half a dozen fake Suchi accounts popped up simultaneously with voyeuristic images and videos. “The worst point was when my wife was in hospital and I was at the police station trying to get the Twitter handle down,” he recalls in an interview.
Blood Chutney is the third episode of Karthi Kumar’s standup comedy series, after #PokeMe and Second Decoction. After a tour across India and many other countries, the show was released in Amazon on June 8.
Karthik says Blood Chutney refers to a Vadivelu lament asking why the blood coming out of his face should be dismissed as tomato chutney. It was not chutney but blood that came with a lot of hurt, he wants to say.
During theSuchileaks episode, he says he was bleeding inside from the thousand cuts dealt by theTwitterati. Trolls had a free run, shaming him and his wife. The joke was on him and the laughter was hurting, derisive. “We are culturally tuned to shaming others and ourselves,” he says.
“We are culturally tuned to shaming others and ourselves,” says Karthik Kumar.
Karthik says Blood Chutney helped him put some demons at rest. But Suchileaks had many other celebrities quivering too. They were being shamed. Their private videos were being put in the open. Suchileaks showed how invasive social media has become and how someone going off the kilter could easily devastate others.
Blood Chutney is not a confessional. It is preachy at times, but never complaining. How much responsibility does it take for what happened and the hurt Suchileaks caused? Watch it on Amazon to find out.