I don’t understand why people think stereotypes are bad: Lola Kutty

Anuradha Menon’s alter ego Lola Kutty was one of the first to celebrate the culture cliches

brunch Updated: Mar 18, 2017 21:46 IST
lola kutty,anu menon,channel v
Anuradha Menon, whose alter ego Lola Kutty, was Channel [V]’s resident Beauty on Duty (Shivangi Kulkarni)

Talk to any ’90s kid and they’ll instantly join you in singing Lola Kutty’s favourite song – By the Rivers of Babylon – or recreate her catchphrase. Lola was youth television Channel [V]’s resident Beauty on Duty and the most popular Mallu of all times.

The accent was not offensive, it was funny and it still is. Anuradha Menon, who brought Lola to life, is glad that she belonged to a time when cracking a joke did not mean that you were immediately beheaded by the goons of the Twitter universe.

Lola Kutty was a typical Malayali character, with oily hair ornamented with gajra, and traditional silk saris. She had a thick Mallu accent, and it was that accent that made her such a success. She was a refreshing change from the constantly decked up bunch of VJs, which explains why we still remember her catch-phrase, ‘simbly enjay!’ almost two decades later.

“The character had to be an exaggeration of a stereotype because if I had been ‘normal’, I would have never caught anyone’s attention. We needed to give that cultural context,” adds Menon.

During her life as Lola Kutty, Menon received only one hate letter. “There was no social media to troll me at that time,” she laughs. “But I don’t understand why people think stereotypes are so bad. Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason, because there is some truth to them. It’s not as if we are degrading anyone; it is a fun take on reality. A lot of people are influenced by their mother tongue when they talk in English, but what is wrong with that? Why shy away from it?”

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From HT Brunch, March 19, 2017

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First Published: Mar 18, 2017 21:46 IST