Don’t we all know of an old, well-meaning, harmless uncle who offers unsolicited advice and thinks he has the answers to all life’s problems? Dr Anil Abraham has used this quintessential character to dispense advice in his popular video series on YouTube, Ungle’s Simbil Solutions. Anil is a dermatologist in Bengaluru. A theatre personality and improv comedian, Anil offers advice to senior citizens in lockdown. He uploads a video every day, 20 videos have been uploaded so far, with Ungle advising characters such as Complaining Kuppuswamy, Reasonable Radhika, Naughty Nandini, Berry Nerbous Banerjee, Foreign Returned Fernandes, Jovial Javed and Handsome Harris. “The episodes have a Bollywood song, references to poetry, literature and language all gift wrapped with generous doses of humour,” says Anil.
Ungle discusses life and death with Morbid Mahesha in Episode 20 and meets Simpering Simran in Episode 18. He is in the red zone and she wants to travel. Ungle is in High Spirits in episode 17, in which he meets an Old Monk who sells him his Maruti. He explores various themes in his videos such as helping with household chores, exercising through dance, romance during corona, complaining and cribbing, exploring passions and hobbies, the loss of Rishi Kapoor and Irrfan Khan, nervousness and panic, missing simple things such as panipuri and travel, Trump and his foolishness, Whatsapp remedies, meditation and introspection, charity without publicity, and so on.
Anil says he has received an overwhelming response. “I have received feedback such as ‘Ungle makes my day brighter’, ‘Ungle is helping us get by !’, ‘Thank you for helping me laugh when I was feeling low’. Responses like this pouring in from all over encourages me to keep Ungle fit and funny. He has gone viral and the number of people enquiring about him if he is an hour late is testimony to the fact that Ungle’s Simbil Solutions are building laughter into the lockdown.”
Creating comic videos seemed like the logical next step, says Anil. “In 30 years of my medical practice there have been thousands of patients who have asked me questions and cleared their doubts. Explaining things simply and with a sense of humour have always been an advantage . The patient is worried. Your job is to ease the situation and help them feel better. Medicines come after that.”
Anil has trained in theatre with stalwarts such as Prakash Belawadi, Arjun Sajnani, Kirtana Kumar, Ashish Sengupta and Arundathi Raja. “They are among a host of other mentors who have helped to hone my acting skills. Comedy has to be inborn but training has come primarily from stand-up performances and improv comedy with talented performers such as Danish Sait, Cyrus Sahukar, Darius Sunavala, Saad Khan, Sonu Venugopal and Karan Machado.” He adds: “Working as a doctor, and training in theatre, radio, and improv comedy helped me to come up with the idea of an Agony Uncle.”
As a doctor, he has been helping with senior citizen initiatives during lockdown, such as reaching medical help, groceries and medication to them. “Senior citizens have been affected the most in many ways. They are cut off from their chance to take a walk in the park or even have family visit them. Other than the risk of infection, their mood and morale have been affected by this lockdown. I found that what most of them missed was a good laugh and some human contact. Ungle’s Simbil Solutions helped to bridge that gap with a dash of humour.”
Anil says shooting the video was a challenge, though he adds: “Scripting and enacting the video was quite easy . I decided to keep it simple and just used a phone camera and talc on the hair. So it was minimal and non- fussy . The editing was done by a friend, Karn Malhotra and uploading was my son, Anirudh’s contribution. He was happy to see his dad trying something new and happening . I don’t think I could have done this without Karn and Anirudh.”
Watch Unkil’s Simbil Solutions on: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw9QF6FQXUwa5PDIBi_pWcg.