This dermatologist uses humour to provoke thoughts on political awareness

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Dr Anil Abraham previously served as the Head of Dermatology at St John’s Medical College, Bengaluru. Photo: Special arrangement.

When a seasoned dermatologist takes to the stage, you would expect him to dwell on malaises that are skin-deep. But when Dr Anil Abraham faces the crowd, he digs deep, engages with them and provokes thoughts on social and political awareness.
The dermatology professor-turned-stand-up comedian effortlessly manages humour to shape public discourse. Recognising the importance of political engagement in a country like India, Dr Anil emphasises that it's our responsibility to participate in the administration and policy-making actively. He considers the forming of logical opinions based on facts and critiquing the functioning of government to be essential parts of a thriving democracy. To drive home the message, he quotes Martin Luther King Jr: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Dr Anil's satire reels are a hit on Instagram and YouTube

He prefers stand-up comedy over scripted theatre and appreciates the spontaneity and direct interaction with the audience. "The advantage of performing on a stage is that you will get immediate response from the audience. The audience response is the reward that helps us to grow," he tells Onmanorama in an email interaction.

Dr Anil draws inspiration from comedians like Zakir Khan, Vir Das, Munnawar Farruqui and Azeem Banatwalla, who skillfully reflect societal realities with humour. Despite challenges faced by comedians like Vir Das, Dr Anil finds motivation in Alan King's notion that comedy mirrors society. He employs self-deprecating humour to comment on socio-political realities, echoing Moliere's belief that comedy serves to correct men by amusing.

Maintaining a fine balance between his various roles, Dr Anil stresses the importance of time management. He finds creative inspiration during the morning walks, efficiently juggling responsibilities without compromise. "I can't be a 50 per cent doctor and 50 per cent content creator. Whenever I am doing one, I'm completely focused on that role. It's like two separate worlds with little overlap, except maybe when I have to explain medical concepts to patients in a creative way," he says. “I’ve been a professor in a medical college for over 30 years. I am a father, a husband, a son, a brother and an active member of the community in which I live. All the roles have to be fulfilled, ideally without compromise,” he adds.

Despite the current challenges, Dr Anil remains hopeful about India's vibrant democracy. "Indian democracy has survived many volatile situations and its citizens have gone through a historical roller-coaster," he says. He encourages voter participation and expresses confidence that regardless of the election outcomes, comedians will continue to play their role in critiquing and creating content inspired by government actions.

(Dr Anil Abraham previously served as the Head of Dermatology at St John’s Medical College, Bengaluru. Currently, he practices as a Dermatologist and Trichologist at Abrahams Skin and Hair Clinic.)

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