Dubai: Six days after he died of a heart attack while performing on stage, Dubai stand up comedian Manjunath ‘Mango’ Naidu was cremated on Wednesday afternoon.
Several people from Dubai’s theatre community came together to bid a tearful farewell to him at the Jebel Ali crematorium, where his funeral rites were performed. Friends familiar with the traditional South Indian rituals led the prayers as Naidu was from the south of India.
The 36-year-old Naidu suffered a cardiac arrest, collapsed and died while performing on stage at a show in Dubai on July 19, sending shock waves through the community.
Borders and cultural differences dissolved as grief brought the theatre community together.
Naidu’s parents had died earlier and his only family member, a brother who resides in Hong Kong, was unable to attend the funeral owing to a visa glitch.
His sister-in-law, however, flew down from Hong Kong. It was the multinational group of Dubai theatre community enthusiasts who came together and worked tirelessly behind the scenes to hold this funeral.
Friends divided themselves into teams to help with clearance and permissions liaising with Dubai Police, the forensics and mortuary officials to get clearances.
One team worked closely with the Indian consulate to get the No Objection Certificate from Naidu’s brother in Hong Kong to go ahead with the funeral.
Miqdad Dohadwala, one of Naidu’s close friends who was present at the event where Naidu died, told Gulf News: “Manju was our family member and it was important for all of us to come together and give him this final farewell.”
Salman Qureshi, a stand-up comedian from Pakistan and Naidu’s closest friend, said: “Manju was like a brother to me and my family. He appointed himself as the godfather to my child. Despite knowing about his generosity and large heart, I had no idea how many lives he had touched.
"He had helped people with counselling, financial and moral support. He had this quality of making everyone feel special, so much so that it made me envious. So many people from our community have turned up at the cremation not just because of his stand-up act, but also because he was a unique and special human being who went out of his way to help people.”
He had this quality of making everyone feel special ... So many people from our community have turned up at the cremation not just because of his stand-up act, but also because he was a unique and special human being who went out of his way to help people.
Naidu, it appears, had a philosophical take on life and death. Recently, when Naidu’s friend Vinod’s father died the obituary he wrote seemed like a premonition of his own death.
Qureshi, who shared the post on Facebook, said: “I was surprised to know how much at peace Naidu was with the idea of death. When one of our friends lost his father recently, Manju paid the most unusual tribute that outlined his belief on life and death. Naidu wrote, ‘Human life as it is, is very difficult, the needs that we have to acquire just to survive are vast. Let alone, if we desire to make it a bit pleasurable the struggle and need becomes more. I always wondered what the biggest gift a human being can ever ask for.
Every time the only answer that dawned upon me was freedom from this body. The thought of no hunger, pain, heat or cold, loss or gain, freedom from attachment, growth, and many other painful experiences as such. Wow even as I am typing this, it brings joy to my heart’. I feel we need to honour these sublime feelings that Manju held about death, even though his death is a terrible shock to all of us.”