Chaplin, a world-renowned comedian believed that “Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.” Laughing out loud at their jokes and spreading cheers among the crowd has been the business of comedians for decades, from the King's court to Nautankis and Tamashas. However, in India the comedians weren't given a platform to showcase their talent for the longest time. But then came in a storm of series of talk shows, laughter challenges and stand-up comedy programs that made these raw talents a household name. Raju Srivastava's “Gajodhar”, Sunil Pal's “Ratan Noora”, Navin Prabhakar's “Julie – the bar girl”, Kapil Sharma's “Shamsher Singh”, came to light. What we got, can never really replace Johnny Walker and Johnny Lever, but a bunch of comedians who could make you laugh till you had your stomachs hurting. It was a revolution of comedy that we witnessed.
Prior to these laughter challenges, we had acts put up in chat shows by talents like Gaurav Gera, Sunil Grover, Purbi Joshi, Saurabh Shukla, to name a few. “Movers and Shakers”, a Shekhar Suman venture inspired by “Tonight Show” became a rage in the '90s. We also had a show hosted by Archana Puran Singh in her dashing style called as “Kandy Floss” and Cyrus Broacha's Indian satirical “The Week That Wasn't”. Later, came the era of the extremely elegant Simi Grewal and the rather candid Karan Johar. These were celebrity talk shows that gave insights into the lives of the guests invited on the show. Giving more space to the genre, the shows like “The Great Indian Laughter Challenge”, “Chote Miyan” and “Comedy Circus” took it to another level. And now, what has become a talk of the town is Kapil Sharma's chat show “Comedy Nights with Kapil.” A mad family hovering over and around the householder, Bittu, while he interviews celebs. An Indianized-version of the hit Brit show “The Kumars at no. 42”, these comedy nights are looked upto in every Indian household in India and abroad. Celebrities have confessed to have been honoured to be a part of the maddening family and the fellow comedians have expressed how Sharma has upped the level of comedy with his show! The massive success of the show and the subsequent tragedies – the burning down of the sets, a news about Sharma evading taxes and Gutthi leaving the show – related to it has made Sharma, “India's clown prince”, albeit a tragic one.
Having tried his luck in regional channels, Sharma auditioned for Laughter Challenge and was initially rejected. Next time around, he was not only selected but he went on to win the show and later hosted the next season. Lala Roshan Lal, a Punjabi cop Shamsher Singh and a natkhat Daadima became stars overnight as did Kapil. From being an acting teacher in a girl's college, doing theatricals for over 10 years, with an aspiration to be a singer and then being a comedian, it has been a long journey for Sharma. His natural flair, perfect comic timing, spontaneity, the ability to make ordinary look extraordinary has been a reason for Sharma's humongous fan-following.
A wise person once said, “Making people laugh is the toughest job in show business” but tweaking it to fit the contemporary realities, one would agree that “Making people laugh without the usage of vulgarity is the toughest job in show business”. Kapil does that without much fuss. The audience who have seen Comedy Nights and who have been a part of the show believe so too.
“The show has been an immense stress-buster for me. The show is nothing like the laughter shows on other GECs, it has its own flavor,” says Ali Mohammed, a hospitality industry professional. While Abhijith Manayil, a student of aviation believes that “The show and especially, Kapil, has redefined comedy with his spontaneity and fresh humour. What the show gives us is different from regular.”
“It is a show that connects us. It not only drains off the day's fatigue with its top-notch entertainment, but it is one show we can watch with our family without an ounce of embarrassment,” says Usha Mhatre, a banker by profession.
Differing on these opinions are Pratik Pawar and Priyanka Malvi. “Kapil is street-smart and has sure redefined comedy with his flawless comic skills but there are bits and pieces of below the belt jokes cracked on the show which usually go unheard,” says Pratik. “The show is nothing like the other shows, it is indeed entertaining. However, there are certain characters that go over the top and at times take away the goodness of the show,” says Priyanka.
In spite of all these anomalies, the show remains a favorite of this gang of friends, it brings them together and doesn't deter them from mimicking Kapil's famous takiyakalam (signature dialogue), “Thoko Taali!”