Home >Opinion >‘The Kapil Sharma Show’ is back

Men dressed as women, lightly molesting other men. Garish cross-dressers. Lewd, crude, slapstick humour. Bollywood stars who will allow themselves to be felt up slightly by a cross-dressing “dadi"—all for the sake of convincing audiences to watch their new film. A former Member of Parliament sitting in a leather chair simply repeating random words of the host, when not spouting some strange nonsensical shayari.

Yes, you guessed right. The Kapil Sharma Show is back. Well, actually Comedy Nights With Kapil is back—only this time it’s called The Kapil Sharma Show and instead of being on Colors, it’s on Sony. But it seems those are the only two things that have changed.

Now, there’s no denying the fan following that Kapil Sharma has had ever since he began Comedy Nights With Kapil on Colors. It was a novel format by Indian standards—to have a comic stand on stage, with ensemble actors/comediennes (you really have to use this word lightly while discussing some of those in the cast), enacting various skits, interviewing a celebrity guest and having the celebrity act in some of the skits and generally displaying how desperate they are while promoting their films. There was a live audience and interactions with the audience, song and dance and, of course, Navjot Singh Sidhu, whose role in this bacchanalia is not clear even to him. This was as close as we were going to get to Saturday Night Live (SNL), which made enough careers—from Tina Fey to Amy Poehler to Seth Meyers to Jimmy Fallon. And Comedy Nights has established Sunil Grover and Kiku Sharda as known names today.

But that’s where the guts and glory ends. Unlike SNL, the comedy bits are rarely, if ever, even remotely intelligent or catering to any cerebral faculty. This is more David Dhawan’s Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, less Kundan Shah’s Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. Its popularity among the masses is also more that of the former’s, than the latter’s. So I can scoff all I want, but the producers are laughing their way to the bank, most probably dressed in drag while doing so.

It’s been three months since the show was pulled off air on Colors, with much mud-slinging ensuing between Colors and Kapil Sharma. And Kapil Sharma’s return has been advertised unendingly on newspapers, hoardings, TV ads and radio spots.

This is the second coming of the comedian. And the pure excitement around the return of a self-made comedian should be applauded.

But oh the show! Saturday was the “launch" episode. Not episode one, but the launch. Which was held at a stadium in New Delhi filled to the brim with people. For the last few months, the team has been travelling across certain cities and doing live events to promote the new show. But was there anything different or novel? No. Because why fix something which isn’t broken, right?

So after Kapil Sharma entered the stadium to wild applause and people crying and lunging at him and his cast members who followed, we got a taste of what was to come. Which was some old wine in a new bottle and it embodied what audiences want as entertainment. The audience was asked if they preferred seeing the characters of Sunil Grover (who used to play a woman, Gutthi) and Ali Asgar (who used to play the molesting Dadi) as men or women. And the audience unanimously shouted to see the actors in drag.

All this while, Bharatiya Janata Party MP and Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary Anurag Thakur, soon to be Rajya Sabha MP Navjot Singh Sidhu and Sony India chief executive officer N.P. Singh smiled beatifically.

The “launch" episode had some funny lines by Sharma on politics, about Kiku Sharda doing what few comedians can do, which is being arrested, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Aam Aadmi Party, service tax deductions and how the Delhi Police doesn’t pay any heed to the chief minister. The latter getting great giggles from the police officers overseeing the security at the event.

The clincher of the launch episode was the guest star Shah Rukh Khan. And I must say that when he came on stage, the humour did improve. Otherwise, the bits still remain the same with slight tweaking. The cross-dressing dadi who used to molest men on the show played a Lucknowi naachnewali. There was a spot of molestation of Anurag Thakur, who looked petrified. Asgar kept addressing Thakur as “Thakur saab" and told him that it was common knowledge that he had the “richest body" and wanted to know where all there were “heeras".

Two men from the audience were asked to court Ali Asgar, while Asgar was in drag. The two men fell over themselves with excitement while doing so. Kiku Sharda who I love ever since he was arrested for mimicking self-proclaimed godman and auteur extraordinaire Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insan, played a nawab. Sunil Grover was a policewoman, who fondled SRK. Then SRK and he nuzzled each other and danced to Gerua. The cops looked utterly bemused. Grover then wore handcuffs while Shah Rukh beat his derriere with a stick, while the real cops laughed—in shock. Then Grover undressed. And became the fan from Fan. And then both he and SRK danced to Jabra.

The second episode of The Kapil Sharma Show, which was actually the first episode, was on Sunday night. It’s the same format as that in Comedy Nights With Kapil, with Sidhu playing laugh master or whatever it is he is paid to be doing, and the cast playing different bits along with the celebrity guest. The only difference was that instead of a house, the setting is now a neighbourhood with characters playing different neighbours. Rochelle Rao has been added as what can only be called a “bimbo" on the show, and in keeping with tradition, the weakest members of the team are the actual women. Sumona Chakravarti and Rao are not funny, they have no comic lines or timing—at least Rao’s USP seems to be her looks and fabulous figure. You almost get why the male comedians are cross-dressing as women, because the female ones are really quite terrible on the show.

And just to underline the phrase, “from the sublime to the ridiculous", after setting the bar high with SRK as the guest star on the launch episode, the guest stars on the first episode were Jackie Shroff’s son Tiger Shroff and Shakti Kapoor’s daughter, Shradha Kapoor—who were out promoting their new film Baaghi. Ali Asgar now cross-dresses as a partially blind grandmother, Sunil Grover is the neighbourhood doctor, Rochelle Rao is his nurse in an outfit from which air can’t pass through, Sumona Chakravarti plays his daughter who is madly in love with Kapil Sharma, Chandan Prabhakar plays the chaiwalla (and there’s a joke about how important chaiwallahs are, which will not please Mani Shankar Aiyar but will please Narendra Modi) and Kiku Sharda is a cop and a Kung Fu expert. All this while Sidhu guffaws from his leather seat facing the stage. Tiger Shroff and Shraddha Kapoor danced and tried to be funny and showed us their minimal acting skills.

I cannot tell you what happened after this, because my brain started seizing up at the horror I was subjecting it to, two days in a row. I then shut the television and decided less damage would be done by reading the laugh riot that is Tavleen Singh’s India’s Broken Tryst (which is reading more like Singh’s broken tryst with Sonia Gandhi). Anything seems preferable to The Kapil Sharma Show.

The Kapil Sharma Show is telecast on Sony at 9pm every Saturday and Sunday.

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