Radio legends Ray Maharaj and Vikash Mathura reprise Peru and Bala alter-egos

Ray Maharaj and Vikash Mathura as Peru and Bala. Picture: Supplied.

Ray Maharaj and Vikash Mathura as Peru and Bala. Picture: Supplied.

Published Jul 1, 2024


Mzansi’s favourite uncles from the yesteryear are back.

Radio comedy duo Ray Maharaj and Vikash Mathura, together with their alter egos, Peru and Bala, have made a digital comeback on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.

Peru and Bala are well known characters from a radio series of the same name, which featured on Lotus FM's “Weekend Lift Off”.

The show was about the misadventures of two old men and their reflections on life. After over 800 episodes on radio, the uncles became household names.

Their comedic brilliance extended beyond radio, resulting in live shows, two best-selling CDs, a chart-topping book, and a beloved cartoon strip that ran for seven years in a local newspaper.

It’s been a decade since Maharaj and Mathura retired the characters to pursue other opportunities but couldn’t ignore the calls from fans who wanted them back.

The “two uncles”, as they were affectionately known, have come out of retirement to bring joy and laughter to anyone and everyone who needs it.

Vikash Mathura (Bala) and Ray Maharaj (Peru). Picture: Supplied

Mathura said: “Social media is the first of various projects that we have planned as part of our relaunch. Ten years ago, Peru and Bala retired from Lotus FM and from the stage shows as well, so its been a decade that the uncles have been in retirement.”

He added that when they retired these characters, social media was not as advanced as it is today.

“Ray and I were talking, and we needed to come back and thought we needed to reach not only the South African audience, but the world, and add a little bit of laughter again ...

“So social media, in the form of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok is the first of various projects.”

Peru and Bala fans will also get a chance to see their two favourite uncles at live shows, which are planned for later this year.

The comedy duo had been toying with the idea of returning to the entertainment scene for close to a year but had many things to consider due to the evolved comedy landscape.

“We couldn’t do things the way it was done historically, because if we wanted to return as Peru and Bala in a bigger way and try and attract a global audience, we would need a lot of assistance and a team that could provide us with that kind of assistance.

“Fadeen Mia and Crystal Vittee approached us and told us that they had the infrastructure to support us, if we had the appetite to relaunch the characters. So the conversation started last year and then slowly we managed to bring in other collaborators.”

After the logistics were sorted, it was onto scripting, conceptualising, strategising and marketing.

“We were dying to tell the world about it for almost 11 months, but had to be very very quite about what we are planning to do,” said Mathura.

Meanwhile Maharaj’s fear was that Peru and Bala may not be relevant in today’s society.

He said: “Fadeen and Crystal did market research to ask if we were still relevant and the answer was a definite yes. People are excited for our return to comedy, especially through social media, which is something we’ve never done before.

“What we are most excited about is that we perhaps have the most professional social media campaign that’s ever been attempted in this country. Social media users will appreciate what that means when they see the content we have lined up for them.”

As for their content, Maharaj and Mathura have already filmed more than 70 videos, which will be posted on various platforms in the coming weeks.

Mathura said: “The four social media platforms require completely different types of material and its the kind of content that people who remember the brand are not accustomed to from Peru and Bala...

“The first thing people remember when they think of Peru and Bala, are the radio shows, then the live shows and the cartoon strips, apart from the CD’s and books.

He explained that social media was totally different from their previous platforms, “The cartoons don’t fly on platforms like TikTok and YouTube. Our content had to be engaging, relevant, time-driven, they got to hit the spot, and the content has to stay true to Peru and Bala as a brand and what it represents.

“So when people heard we coming back, they thought that we are going to be doing live shows and cartoons. When they see the content drop on social media, I think it is going to blow a lot of people out of the water.”

Get your daily dose of joy and laughter from Peru and Bala by following their handle on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.