“Career can change anytime in life. We had no idea of her talents, but now when I see her performing on the stage, I feel proud of her,” says the daughter of Deepika Mhatre, a stand-up comedian who was formerly a maid.
Sold jewellery on train
Just a weeks days ago, the 44-year-old would start her day differently. She would get up at 4 am and catch a 4:30 am a local train from Nalasopara station to Churchgate. Her daily job would start as soon as she got on the train. She would open her big bag to sell imitation jewellery on the train.
“I used to keep changing my trains, from one compartment to another. Till 7 am I would finish my morning business and would board a train to Malad,” said the mother of three daughters while speaking to The Logical Indian.
She says, selling jewellery on the train got her only 300-400 a day and sometimes not even that much. That is why she had to resort to taking up other jobs to provide for her family of five people.
Worked as a maid
Every morning, by 7:30 am she would reach to Sangeetha Vihar Colony in Malad, where she worked as a cook in five different houses. Deepika’s day did not end there. After finishing cooking at other people’s house, she would manage to get back home by around 2-2:30 pm to do her daily chores.
“I have to take care of my husband too. He is not keeping well for the last many years as he is an asthma patient. He used to work, but after some years of our marriage, he started to fall ill frequently. So I decided to feed my family and give him some rest,” said Deepika.
All this was her daily routine until she started getting offers to perform as a stand-up comedian. Her journey as a comedian began a year back when one of her “madams” organised a talent show in the colony and asked other maids, including her to perform in the function.
The talent show
While some chose to dance and sing, she prepared a few jokes to perform in front of an audience. She told us that, a journalist in the audience liked her gig and introduced her to comedian Aditi Mittal.
“After a few days, I met Aditi Mittal at my madam’s house, who asked me to perform and I readily agreed. The first time I went to the stage, I was nervous as well as confident,” she said.
It has been more than a year now since she performed her first gig, and till now the 44-year-old has performed in many stand-up shows in and around Mumbai.
“I feel so good after every show. Many people come and hug me, they appreciate my jokes as well. In my show, when I crack jokes on how people discriminated against their maids, some people do understand the gravity of the issue. In fact, a few have even apologised for doing the same with their maids,” she added.
Her worries are more
However, there is one thing that Deepika is worried about after getting to do stand-ups. “I am not getting paid for any of these shows as it is just the start of my stand-ups, but this is getting very difficult as my I have no other source of income. I want to make this my new career because this is the first time when people recognised me for my talent, but financially it is challenging,” she adds.
She says if she gets some role for acting she will go for it. When we asked her how is her family’s attitude toward her new journey, she says, “my family gives me ideas for my jokes, they are very supportive.” Deepika says she is preparing for her new sketches, and she says I want to talk about Demonetisation and how it affected maids like me. “When demonetisation happened we maids had to face a lot of problems, and we are still facing it,” she says. She is also working on a sketch which will talk about the problems women face due to their husbands.
Deepika is now very active on social media, she says “nobody used to know me before, but now not just people from my locality, but people from different states and countries talk to me,” she says with a giggle.