Catching up with Kalyani Nagarajan

Actor Kalyani smiles past the camera in a black shirt and sunglasses. Behind him is a yellow wall.Mrs Krishnan’s Party hit Pittsburgh, Vancouver and New York in a 14-week tour, from December last year. What was the tour like?
Yeah nah, it was amazing. Especially considering that travelling to perform a show is a rare opportunity for Kiwis. My co-star Justin Rogers (DJ Jimmy James, party-thrower and Mrs Krishnan’s slightly troublesome boarder), was excited for his first trip on a “big plane”.

The premise of the show is that the audiences are the partygoers. How did the international crowd respond to their ‘role’?
They took so much ownership, it was crazy. In Vancouver, especially, the audience took more ownership of the show than I’d ever experienced before. Whenever the aunties got on stage, they’d start messing with the element. They were like “we’ll put it on four”, and I’m like aunty, there’s a science to this. Stop turning it down!

Kayani Nagarajan (Mrs Krishnan) all the way in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where the show performed in the International Festival of FirstsThere were also these really loving moments.

One audience member, a widower, opened up about his wife having passed away — this is in front of 150 people. So we took really good care of him and he came up [on stage] and said, “I’ve never felt so empowered and proud to be who I am and just to really respect my late wife.”

You know, there are moments in the show, you’ve obviously got your gags, but when the audience gives you something like that and are so open… It’s really beautiful.

Or, people in their mid-twenties would come and then they’d bring their parents. That’s what you want — you want to think about your parents when you come to this show, or you want your mum and dad to think about you when they come to this show. It’s all about that connection.



Like with all parties, something or the other doesn’t go according to plan —  a can opener breaks while opening a tin of tomatoes, a phone rings in an awkward moment, or you forget to turn the stove top onWhat’s it like having to improvise?
Actor Kalyani as Mrs Krishnan looks into a pot lit which has a light shining on it while she stirs the dahl in the pot
The best thing about this show is that anything can go wrong. Watching the mayhem unfold is a part of the show’s charm. It’s endearing watching these actors because we’re still in character. But, like, imagine your teeth falling out in front of a hundred people — it happened to me in Pittsburgh. For the most part, though, Justin and I are accustomed to running with the show — to the point where we mess around with each other’s characters on stage.

What did happen when your teeth fell out?
I corpsed it.*

*Corpse [ kawrps]
Verb, corpse, corpsed, corpsing
To ruin a piece of acting by laughing uncontrollably.