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The Return of Pawankali

Pawankali aka Loonibha Tuladhar is back again to entertain her audiences with her sassiness after 15 long years. This time, she presents an online show that puts the focus on prevalent issues in society. More than 11 episodes of the show have been on air where she has focused on the pandemic and lockdown ranging in topics on self care, mental wellbeing, ways to protect children from abuse, caring for newborn and mother, staying away from fake news, rights of LGBTQ, etc. She educates her audiences in a dramatic way by interacting with the experts.

Theatre artiste Loonibha Tuladhar is known more as Pawankali, a name she carries from her popular show on Kantipur TV in 2005. She has also worked in several movies and appeared in comedy shows.
In a telephonic conversation with WOW’s Pabita Dahal, the versatile artiste talks about her new show. Excerpts:

Photos: Pawankali Online

What inspired Pawankali to make a comeback?

I am a workaholic who started working at the age of 16. I am not habitual to staying at home. It was already two weeks of lockdown and I was anxious about how to pass time at home. Meanwhile, my husband advised me to start an online show which could be entertaining as well as informative during the pandemic. With his suggestion and support I started this show. If you ask why as Pawankali, we were thinking about starting The Pawankali Show on Kantipur TV but the lockdown halted it. So, why not something that is already in the demand.

How different is this Pawankali from Pawankali of 15 years ago?

There is a vast difference. Fifteen years back, I was a young girl in my early twenties. Now, I am 36 and more serious. I have also tied up with Save the Children. I have to make sure that I am politically correct.
Then I was immature and didn’t realise that body shaming is harmful. The double meaning jokes were also one of the features of the show. At that time, people had developed the idea that one had to cross 18 years of age to talk with Loonibha. Even I am amazed at how people liked the way I talked while watching old episodes in 2016.

What has the response been to your online shows?

I think most of my viewers are older since the younger generation does not know Loonibha as Pawankali. Even if they search on YouTube, they find some episodes of Tara Kandel and Mampi Ghosh who are the second and third Pawankali respectively. At that time, Kantipur Television was screened only in Kathmandu valley.

The online show has good viewership and most of the responses are positive. New viewers are also increasing gradually. Today’s audiences are luckier because of the technological advancement. They can respond instantly through social media about their favourite show and the host. Before they had to wait to personally meet them and show appreciation. Even today, my old viewers recognise and call me Pawankali if they see anywhere. But now audiences know us more through social media more than just as a character or a show host.

How is it different to work on an online platform than on TV?

Work wise there is no difference but I think TV has more viewership and outreach. Since I am producing the show at home and doing everything by myself, there are some difficulties; little things like makeup and hair, or the sound of the neighbour’s pressure cooker, barking of the dog or the sound of the rain. It is challenging but I am enjoying it.

What are your learning from this pandemic?

I realised that we have to be self-sufficient in any situation and save money because life is so unpredictable. Anything can happen anytime. Who would have thought that we would be stuck in our homes for so long?
As for my work, I think this lockdown turned out to be a good time. People in general are more active creatively. Everybody is involved in art in one or the other way. Art is not limited to films, poetry or drama. Every skill a person learns is an art: cooking, managing home, cleaning the house, reading, writing, etc. Half of my Facebook friends cooked jeri during this lockdown. Moreover, everybody is showcasing their creativity on social media in addition to the many live discussions, dance performances, online classes, etc.

You are also part of a comedy show Mundreko Comedy Club. What was the experience like?

It was very tough for me because making people laugh is not an easy task. Besides live comedy for live audiences is very different from theatre comedy. The theatre has live audiences too but it is scripted and we know the comic timing. But in Mundreko Comedy Club, we were uncertain about many things. We didn’t know how the audiences would react and what we might have to do instantly. However it was fun and comfortable to work with Jitu dai and the team. They are amazing. It would get extremely hot in that room at Tourism Board but we would forget everything while performing.
I love my work. Nothing can stop me from working except if I am severely ill.