Monday, November 11, 2013

A confession

This is a confession. I like Comedy Nights With Kapil.

I have really no interest in Bollywood. This last Bollywood film I consented to see was Bunty and Bubbly, which, on checking on Wikipedia was released in 2005. I saw it then. Yes, I do recognise the major stars and, yes, I often wonder how people like Ritesh Deshmukh and Sharman Joshi, to name but two, are film stars. They look like the guys who come from Nova Weatherworks to service my split air conditioner. So, under normal circumstances, my tuning to a TV channel showing Comedy Nights With Kapil would have been, pardon the pun, remote. However, one evening I chanced on Colours and the show was running and I was quite charmed.

The show is a runaway success. From what I could see, it is used as a vehicle to promote various films that being released. The high viewership ensures that the promotion will be effective.

Not only was I charmed, but I was rather shocked, in a pleasant manner, at the format of the show. This was, in my limited knowledge of comedy in India, especially on television, genre busting. This I found most refreshing.

The show has at least 3 characters a grandmother, a girl in pig tales called Gutti and a stouter lady called Palak, all of whom are played by men. These three characters are made up to look like women, not women in drag. The characters they play are really women. It is not the more clichéd and hackneyed situation of men only masquerading as women to escape a situation. In this show the characters are played by men but the characters are women. I do not know if I have made the distinction clear. This portrayal is in my view, refreshing and probably unique. If you have seen the show Little Britain you have the same portrayal.

The second aspect that I found refreshing and out of the ordinary is there seems to be very little fawning and obsequiousness on the show. There is very little use of the word `ji’ and relatively few honorific’s are used. Shah Rukh Khan is call Shah Rukh, Hrithik Roshan is called Hrithik and so on and so forth. To add to this casualness is the fact that there is a lot of actual touching of the stars on the show by the various characters. I mean physical touching, the grandmother will stroke a stars knee, and she will kiss him leaving lipstick, red obviously, on his cheeks. All this is new to me. Stars hitherto did not get touched by characters in television studios.

And then there is the sex. It is loud and clear, not couched and totally clean and up front. The grandmother, brilliantly portrayed I must say, who openly expresses desires to bed the actors. The show also has a character who is Kapil’s Aunt called `Bua’ who is played by a lady. She too openly expresses her desires, including bedding the actors. This is a rather western expression of sexual desire. I do not think this openness is visible even in Bollywood films. Most sexual desires in Bollywood films are expressed with crudity, ribald humour and not in this way. Have a look.

I do like a Punjabi accent, and this show has a lot of Punjabi accents. The host Kapil Sharma is a Punjabi as are many of the other actors. The show is extremely North Indian, but then so is Bollywood who ride on the shows coat tails. Normally, unless there is a reason for characters to be Punjabi, normally stereotypes, shows do not have such strong accents. Most of the characters have rather strong Punjabi accents.

Generally speaking the quality of the humour, the one liners, the seemingly spontaneous reactions of the Stars on the show are of a high quality. Mind you I compare this with the dreadful Comedy Circus which is really the pits. Here in Comedy Nights With Kapil the humour, the situations and all round quality is decent.

Of course the show is plagued with problems. Navjyot Singh Siddhu plays the part of `live’ canned laughter, the only thing that members of the audience want to do, besides mouthing platitudes is dancing with the Stars or worse, singing a song. Most of this puts my teeth on edge. Often Kapil pokes fun at a hapless audience member which descends into cheap personal hurtful comments. This part is unnecessary. Then again, we see the typical Indian trait of laughing and clapping at the same time. This I cannot for the life of me under. We Indians like to laugh hysterically in when in this hysterical state we have to simultaneously clap. Do observe this.

All in all, I quite like Comedy Nights With Kapil. The best Indian show on Indian Television.   

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