Kapil's comic banter

Kapil's comic banter

The new comedy show on weekends, ‘Comedy Nights with Kapil’, offers much-needed relief from daily soaps. Chetna Keer takes a critical look at the show.

Comedian Kapil Sharma is to telly comedy shows what Navjot Singh Sidhu is to cricket commentary: Badshah of Banter and One-liner. And so their coming together for a comedy show raises expectations of a double dose of humour.

The new comedy show on Colors, Comedy Nights with Kapil, that follows their prime-time offering Jhalak Dikhla Jaa, where Kapil also plays co-host, sees the popular comedian donning the hats of not just comedian, but also producer and script writer.

Who better to dabble in comic show production than the man who has made his mark in telly’s comedy genre to become synonymous with spoofs, Punjabi ishtyle.

The format of the show borrows the best elements of the comedy template on telly and strives to be distinct by bringing to it its own USP. Thus, Comedy Nights with Kapil presents a combo of the participative and interactive comedy formats.

Participative, since Kapil interacts with a live audience, sharing burning problems and his concerns with them and in turn inviting them to be a part of the dialogue by narrating jokes etc. Interactive, as he also engages in an conversational session with celebrity guests every weekend, turning the show into a platform for promos of new flicks.

One element that sets the show apart from near-clones in the comedy genre is that it props up the big fat Punjabi family as the pivot, around which the script revolves, with Kapil playing the head of the family who runs a magazine for which he invites film celebrities for a tête-à-tête.

Punjabi ‘tadka’

And making up this colourful collage of the loud ‘n’ laughing Punjabi family are established telly artistes and others. The ensemble cast sees actor Sumona Chakravarti in the role of his wife Mrs Sharma, the melodramatic daadi played by actor Ali Asgar, the unmarried eccentric bua played by Upasana Singh, comedy artiste Naseem Vicky playing the irksome-meddlesome servant, while theatre artiste and comedian Sunil Grover is cast in colourful characters throughout the series.

The characters do wear some shades of the stereotypical Punjabi cast of a Sooraj Bharjatiya or Yash Chopra Bollywood script, but out of this pack, the one who delivers the most rib-tickling performance is Ali Asgar. Best remembered for playing Kamal in Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii, actor Asgar is not knew to essaying female roles, having already done so in Comedy Circus.

So, it is with elan that he sports the visage and vocals of an elderly yet endearing female to render the trademark daadi dialogue: “Bittu, yeh mat bhool ki imaarat kitni bhi puraani ho gayi hai, magar buniyaad abhi bhi mazboot hai… (Bittu, do not forget that the building may be old, but the foundation is still strong).”

The bua’s act of an over-the-hill Punjabi kudi obsessed with hooking a groom does have its lighter moments, like when she tells star guest Shah Rukh that he is her ‘Rahul’ and she his ‘Anjali’, but Kapil butts into her match-making with the spoilsport snub, “Anjali nahi karamjali!” But, at times, it does go over the top, like some of the gags between Kapil and his servant, as well as with other characters.

The USP of the casting of the show, however, remains the convergence and clash of Sidhu-isms and Kapil-isms. For, in the role of a confidant and commentator-spectator to the wacky ‘n’ weird Kapil household is cast none other than the ‘Master Blaster’ of Banter Punjabi ishtyle: cricketer-turned-commentator and celebrity judge Navjot Singh Sidhu.

That Sidhu serves as a foil to the Kapil brand of humour is a feature that enhances the humour quotient of the show. For, in taking up current burning issues or social concerns, Kapil finds a sounding board in Sidhu, who spices up the script with his trademark Sidhu-isms.

Sidhu’s presence no doubt is value addition to the show. But seeing that the show belongs to Kapil, Sidhu’s role in the script seems a trifle trivial and ambiguous, as he could have done better than being a prop to push up the script’s star and humour quotient.

Laughing it off

Coming to the content, it is current issues concerning the common man that drive the script, from the hold of spiritual conmen on the commoners, the prevalence of quacks and so on. Kapil brings his comic perspective to social maladies and situations of daily life with his signature one-liners and his poker face delivery.

The participative segment that sees members of the audience narrating jokes or being serenaded by the stars surely stands out as a distinct feature of the show, though one wishes that we could get to hear some fresh gags from the studio audience and that Kapil could tone down his potshots at the audience jokes.

The interactive celebrity segment, of course, drives much of the eyeballs of the show. Having stars on the reality show stage to promote their upcoming flicks has now become a staple of the telly template. So, there is the star pair of Ghanchakker Emraan Hashmi and Vidya Balan, the Chennai Express team of Shah Rukh, Deepika Padukone and Rohit Shetty, the veteran Bollywood star from Punjab, Dharmendra and many others spicing up the script.

The difference here being that the star presence is punctuated by Kapil’s witticisms. So, when actors Sonakshi Sinha and Ranveer Singh came on the show to promote their new film, Lootera, Ranveer literally ‘rose’ to the occasion and played the prop of a tree, around which Kapil and Sonakshi staged a hilarious impromptu 1950s Bollywood scene.

Kapil’s common man’s gags, coupled with the Bollywood presence, interwoven into the inimitable and incorrigible Big Fat Punjabi Family act, thus drive this script and save it from becoming a clone in the clutch of comedy shows.

Nothing could sum up better the show’s convergence between Bollywood and the Badshah of Banter than Kapil’s rejoinder to the overage bua’s wooing of B-town’s King of Romance, giving a comic twist to Shah Rukh’s signature song:

“Tumhe dekha toh yeh jaana sanam … yeh samaan (Bua) hai puraana sanam … agar tum (Bua) nahi gayi toh inhon ne phir se nahi aana sanam!”

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