That an institution like Kapil Sharma is feeding news almost 24/7 to the print and electronic media is a given. But behind the facade of the comedian who has grown from strength to strength, done a successful film, and has just released his second big-screen effort, Firangi, what is the real man like? What is happening to The Kapil Sharma Show and what about his annoying superstars from showbiz? What ails him that he needed a rehab at a popular Bengaluru ayurvedic centre?
Science of comedy
Too many questions and controversies - and just one Kapil Sharma to answer them! But the man makes our interaction lively enough. And so, somewhere at mid-point, we asked him: from Charlie Chaplin to Johnny Walker and Johnny Lever, every great comedian was or is actually a very serious person. What about him?
"I am very serious only about my work," he replies. "The situations and the lines spoken by every character on my show are minutely filtered by me before they are shot. Otherwise, it all depends on the company, time and environment."
Arising from that, how much of his popular show is actually impromptu? "Well, we do script the entries of the characters and so on," he answers. "But what happens later, especially with the celebrities on the show, is impromptu."
Why do we occasionally feel that even the people who ask the questions are all pre-selected? "We have to do that sometimes," he admits. "For example, there was this guy who wanted to ask Kareena (Kapoor Khan) a question that was extremely improper. We had to tell him to change it."
We share that his good friend from Class 9, Rajiev Dhingra, also the writer-director of his new film and also of many episodes of his earlier shows, has told us a good bit about him. "Zyaada bakwaas to nahin ki ussne (I hope he has not talked too much rubbish)?" he asks mischievously.
Rajiev has informed us that Kapil was a very silent boy in school. How did this quiet boy metamorphose into someone as talkative as him who earns mega-money for himself and the two GECs with which he has been associated? And Kapil replies, "I was quiet because I did not know in which subjects I would flunk! Actually, theatre helped me shed my inhibitions, and after a lot of serious plays, I thought it was better to make people laugh when they are investing time and money in you."
What was his first reaction when the story of Firangi came to him? "The story did not come, Rajiev did!" quips Kapil. He adds, "Rajiev wanted to do a film with me for long, but you cannot trust old friends, you know! So, it was only after he made a Punjabi hit film Love Punjab and offered this idea that I agreed, and he developed the script."
Firangi is a light-hearted film against the Independence backdrop without showing any unpleasantness or violence. "The characters are serious, but the audience will laugh at their innocent foibles," explains Kapil.
When will his television comeback happen? "We are working on something. But this time, I will call it The Khairati Lal Show!"
And why would that be? He grins, "On The Kapil Sharma Show, I get the flak always! Look at how a scribe who saw Sumona Chakravarti smoking reported the news: 'Kapil ki biwi peeti hai cigarette (Kapil's wife is smoking a cigarette)!' Sidhu paaji says something and again I am blamed. When Kiku Sharda was arrested because he spoke against a godman, the headline was that Kapil's Palak (his character on my show) had been put in jail."
Clearing the air
What about reports of his keeping big names like Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn waiting and inviting their wrath? "I have no PR to take care of me!" he replies. "And since I continue doing my work - I think now that I should reveal my side too! - people write anything about me that the stars I am supposed to have angered know is rubbish. I shot for Akshay Kumar's show just yesterday. When I was not keeping well, Shah Rukh advised me to pay attention to my health first."
Kapil explains, "Anybody familiar with our work will know that if a star is called at 7 pm, my team is there at least six hours earlier. We fine-tune our scripts, rehearse, do readings and so on."
Bengaluru fans are especially eager to know how Kapil has done in his recent rehab at a famous ayurvedic centre here. Is he completely fit now? Kapil is honest: "No, I am not completely alright, though much better. There is still some weakness, but then I was neglecting my health in every aspect for months. When I went in, the first two days were like being in jail. But gradually, I began to enjoy the discipline, the diet, the massages that are done with everything possible from hot oil to rice and so on. I felt my strength coming back and strongly recommend the place to everyone."
Kapil left the centre after just day 15 of the 40-day regimen as he needed to promote his film and release it. "But now, they are sending me medicines," he says.
A little bird has told us that he has been offered an international comedy show by the people who made Big Momma's House. "Now, who told you that?" he grins. "Well, I have just received an offer over the phone. I need to go there and see what they have for me."