MUMBAI — Expectations from Kapil Sharma have always been clear — clean, hilarious and witty humor resulting in comedy that the entire family can watch together. That is what has made his television show “Comedy Nights With Kapil” a 200-plus episode cult program with several live presentations in the U.S., Canada, the Gulf and other countries overseas.
Immensely grounded and courteous, the highly successful comic is also very pragmatic. Dismissing his misfired debut with Yash Raj Films, he says, “Kuch cheezen na apne haath mein nahin hoti, sir (some things are not in our hands)!” I was anyway going to do “Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon,” produced by Venus, but maybe as a follow-up assignment. However, I am glad that it turned out to be my first film. They say that certain things should be left to God, and we should not think too much about such things!”
Over to his interview:
Q: Why do you call this the right film rather than the movie you were supposed to do?
A: People expect out-and-out comedy from me, and I am doing it here. This is a film that, like my shows, will not be watched only by one or two people but their complete families from parents and grandparents to kids.
Q: The Yash Raj film was to be a crime comedy. This one’s a comedy being directed by the masters of crime thrillers — Abbas-Mustan. Were you not apprehensive of the result?
A: Frankly, I was! But then, they reassured me, and the fact that Anukalp Goswami, one of my oldest associates, had written the film and showed them the script, was added assurance.
Besides, if you have noticed, the humor in Abbas-Mustan’s films has always been very good. And I realized that they are brilliant storytellers. They are also so strong technically, and, when they told me that they had loved Anukalp’s script but had waited two years to find the right actor, as they did not want either a top name or a rank newcomer, I was touched by their faith in me.
Q: Were you not in a three-film contract with YRF?
A: Yes, I was! And I will never do films for the sake of it. No bulk films for me! See, my kitchen is safe. I will never leave television or give it second priority. It has given me everything, made me what I am, and earned me so much love and respect. Do you know that my live shows see audiences in five figures simply because they all love me so much?
A film I take up will have to be indeed special, and I should love the script. And it has to be something new from me, otherwise why should anyone come to watch me in a theater?
Q: What about overexposure and then the same genre — comedy?
A: On “Comedy Nights With Kapil,” I have the same family; we broadly follow the same pattern and yet we have touched 200. This time, there is a definite graph, a finite storyline, and so many characters. There is romance; there are songs and dances. Besides, I am not playing myself but a character in a series of situations.
Q: What was the difference in working as Kapil on TV and as a character in a movie?
A: Frankly, it was much more comfortable and relaxing, sir! In films, we give a shot and then wait until the next one is ready. On television, we stand continuously for five or six hours, and, even if we are dying, we have to complete the number of episodes we have to do per week!
Q: How is it handling four women on-screen when you are a bachelor?
A: (Laughs) It is tough to look after one wife in real life! And I am handling three — that’s the unique selling point of this film! Incidentally, like all mothers, my mummy — who is seen in every episode! — is also after me to settle down, and I keep telling her, main audience ko ek saath baandhke rakh rahaa hoon (I try to bind audiences together) aur aap mujhe baandhne ki baat kar rahi hain (and you are thinking of binding me)!
Q: Will the audience accept you as a playboy?
A: Sir, the best part is that this man, whom his mother has named Shiv Ram Krishan (with the acronym SRK!) is not characterless but a simple, golden-hearted young guy! He only takes his mother’s maxim, ‘Never hurt a girl’s feelings!’ seriously and ends up being husband to three girls — as Shiv, Ram and Krishen! And he also has a girlfriend whom he loves!
Q: Which of the four actresses was your favorite?
A: Actually, all were equally good (Grins), but I would compliment Elli Avram for her hard work. She is not from India, but the amount of effort she makes to get her diction right is amazing.
Q: You also produce your show so that you have a creative control. How much of a say did you have here?
A: On “CNWK,” I do it to maintain the wholesomeness of the humor. Otherwise, as a mere actor, I would have earned much more for far less effort. But if even one artiste indulges in below-the-belt humor and I am not in control, by default, I become his accomplice! Below-the-belt humor karna bahut aasaan hota hai, sir (is very easy to do)!
Here, Abbas-Mustan and I were on the same page on the humor. And, in a comedy, improvisations happen all the time, and the directors had complete faith in me. In a monologue at the end, I went on for several minutes after I finished the written lines. I became a bit emotional. And they have retained it all.
Q: Was doing comedy always on your radar?
A: Aap believe nahin karenge (you will not believe) that I started in 1997 doing serious theater at my college! Then I watched one student play different characters in the same costume and get a fantastic response. I also tried that and slowly started doing shows on regional channels and then moved on to being a contestant on “Comedy Circus.” The response was great, because everyone likes to laugh!
Q: What is comedy to you?
A: It is the most difficult part of entertainment. A singer like Mohammed Rafi or Sonu Nigam can sing the same song for 20 years onstage. But, even in a five-minute act, a comedian has to think of something new all the time!
Q: And who has your kind of ready wit among the celebs who have come on the show?
A: (Instantly) Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan! But over there, it’s all about unwinding and getting into the flow. I recall Varun Dhawan coming on the first episode of his and being a shade reserved — now he dances and gets into the spirit totally!