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New video offers a funny take on struggles of renting a flat in Mumbai

 The latest video from Anuvab Pal’s series, Scenes from Indian Life for YouTube channel #LaughterGames comes with a note. It says, “After the search for extra-terrestrial life, the second most difficult thing is for a single woman to find a flat in Mumbai.” This immediately reminds us of a film where a new recruit in a magazine rents an apartment in the city with a view of the sea, considerable space inside and even another room. The streets of Bandra are now replete with carcasses of such sweet illusions, piling up over the years.

Anuvab Pal plays a house owner
Anuvab Pal plays a house owner

Anuvab Pal’s The Broker, however, is the real thing; for entertainment and education before you set out to find an apartment. In the video, a 27 year-old single woman is faced with house owners with conditions but she is armed with a broker who is ready to fill every gap. The demands are common and the execution is hilarious: single women not allowed, only vegetarians, only foreigners, same religion. The experiences, Pal says, are of multiple people. “I got to know about the horrid experiences of finding a place on rent for a single woman from my journalist wife’s friends. The questions and requirements are often bizarre with a moral encroachment upon your life. Even I faced an incident with chicken nuggets in a vegetarian apartment when the broker promptly put the nuggets in his pocket and told me that he will manage it,” he says.

Gopal Datt as landlord
Gopal Datt as landlord

Pal did not want to make it an angry video but laugh at the idiosyncrasies. “This topic is such that the obvious reaction is outrage. But this is the common reaction. As comedians, we needed to stand away from the situation a little and see what’s funny and give a clever and different reaction. So we wondered what if there is a broker, who tries to fix every demand made by the house owners. And the story rolled,” he recounts.

A scene from the video where tenant (Rasika Dugal) and broker (Soumik Sen) approach an owner
A scene from the video where tenant (Rasika Dugal) and broker (Soumik Sen) approach an owner 

Small is big
Pal says that he was drawn to the topic because he is interested in the smaller problems of life. “There are, of course, much bigger issues in the world but I am drawn to the smaller ones and find much humour in it,” he explains. A surprising part of the video is a judgmental Bengali owner who would only allow a poet to take up his house. When pointed out, Pal admits that he wanted to introduce the character because he finds his own community hilarious. “We are funny in a Woody Allen way and the best part is we don’t know it. In fact, I am also a fan of a tradition of humour that is very Calcutta in nature that you can find in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s cinema. I want to bring back that kind of humour,” he signs off.

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