He was 36 years old.
Well-known and loved local comedian Manjunath Naidu died on stage on Friday while performing his routine to a packed house at a Dubai event. He suffered a cardiac arrest while doing a standup on anxiety at a hotel in Al Barsha. He was 36.
In the two-hour comedy show, Naidu was the last to perform. Mango – as he was affectionately called – complained of high level of anxiety, sat down on the bench next to him and collapsed onto the floor, while still eliciting laughter because many thought it was part of the act.
Tragically it was not so as everyone soon realised Naidu was gasping for breath.
His friends and fellow comedians were in a state of shock as one said he died doing what he loved doing best.
Naidu, according to friends, was born in Abu Dhabi but later shifted base to Dubai. He was a popular comedian in the Racy Desis band of standup held in Dubai for the past few years.
Miqdaad Dohadwala, friend and fellow comedian, said Naidu was a star performer and left while entertaining the UAE.
“He was the last act in the line-up. He went on stage and was making people laugh with his stories. He was talking about his father and family. Everybody was enjoying. And then he got into a story of how he suffers from anxiety. And a minute into the story he collapsed. People thought it was part of the act. They took it as a joke as he was talking about anxiety and then collapsed. Everyone rushed to the stage. He stopped breathing in our hands. The paramedics reached within 20 minutes but couldn’t revive him. We took him to the hospital but after trying for 20 minutes they said Manju was gone. The man killed his performance and his performance killed him,” Dohadwala said.
“His parents passed away and he has a brother but no relatives here. All in the arts and comedy circle are his family. We are all figuring out procedures to follow for the death certificate and last rites,” he added.
Naidu was a popular figure in the local comedy circle. Comedy and acting were his passion which he had been doing in Dubai for last 4-5 years. He was a regular at The Courtyard Playhouse, a performing arts training centre. Naidu had also been an advocate for good health.
Tributes poured in on social media from his friends. “We called each other papa. We started standup comedy together in 2013. Your first show was my first show. We spoke about our dreams, about being stars one day. While you became a star last night forever. I lost you in the stars somewhere. Not fair what you did to me bro,” friend Amit Asudani wrote.
Salman Z Qureshi said: “The world has lost so much goodness today. If the rest of you knew, you would shed tears like his friends are doing so. My brother and I have shared so much laughter together but he was also my backbone. My plans always included you in them. Manju, you’ll always be the star, the kind-hearted brother and the dearest of family to me. God bless you. You’ve made wherever you’ve gone a much better place. I love you.”
Grace Chng, who was there at the event, wrote: “He will be in our memory as Mango, and as the man who touched the lives of countless people. He changed my life and I became a comedian and improviser that he thought I was meant to be. His cremation will be this Sunday morning.”
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