”˜And No, I Did Not Grow Up Doing Yoga’ ”“ an interview with Aarti Vincent

By Neena Badhwar

And no she did not anticipate having to move all the way to Melbourne from India to learn yoga from white yoga teachers either. And no she did not anticipate being a person of colour when she moved to Melbourne, so she went and auditioned for a play set in the Great Britain based on a white British Family. Did they select her, no they said, try again.

Her first few months here were spent in shock, “Where are all the kangaroos?” she remember asking her husband the very second day.

Aarti Vincent, stand up comedian performing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival ( March 30 ”“ April 11, 2021 at Club Voltaire, 8pm) who moved to Melbourne with her husband fourteen years ago and now a mother of an 8-year-old daughter says, “I tried to audition for theatre for a British play here as that was my background in India having acted in British plays, Russian and French Dramas.”

“I was not cast and wondered why, as they said thank you, try again”¦”

“Up until then I didn’t realise that I was a woman of color. That thought had never crossed my mind in Delhi where I come from. So I stopped trying out for theatre and got into work which is to do with advertising as in India I had worked as a TV producer working with ad agencies.”

Says Aarti, “I did observe though many incidents all along how girls here are mad about sun tanning trying to make their skin look brown whereas in India we are using bleach to make our skin look white. So I thought why not I write my observations and I did my first show in 2019, the response was pretty good.”

“It encouraged me to write more episodes during the lockdown and then I did stand-up comedy at the Melbourne Fringe Festival where the audience really enjoyed with some coming up to say that ”˜they had a good laugh.”

“It was these little observations like in India we just do not care about traffic rules, the idea is to drive whichever way just to reach a destination. But here, they are very strict about the traffic rules.”

About the role of women, she says, “I am so lucky that my husband supports me in all this. I am allowed to do all what I do without feeling guilty, without feeling bad about myself. Women have to break that kind of mindset themselves first because they tend to put themselves in the last of their priority list. Its ok and one does not have to justify oneself all the time.”

What does she say about the status of women here, any different than that of women in India, “There is not much of a difference. For example domestic violence is here as well. Intensity may be a bit lesser here. Internationally women do get cast in the role like it is ok for men to do certain things and not for women. Yet the mindset is changing slowly all around us. It will take a long time but it will change.”

About having been rejected for the role in theatre what does she say now 14 years hence, “Things are getting better. I went with my daughter to see ”˜The Little Mermaid’ where the King and the Queen are both Caucasian but the son was of Asian origin. The question never came to our mind that he was of different colour or origin. Just that he was such a good actor. The world is changing rapidly. We are bringing out a mixed race which will eventually show up in movies, ads, art and all its other forms. Its already happening, one can see.”

Aarti’s solo debut show for the Melbourne International Comedy festival:
Venue(s): Club Voltaire
Dates: 30 March – 11 April
Time: 8.00pm
Tickets: $15 – $24
Bookings: comedyfestival.com.au & at the door

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