Kapil Sharma is back, but should we rejoice?
Over the years The Kapil Sharma Show has become tediously repetitive. Gags in drag have dragged down the show to the level of a village nautanki.
There was a time when Kapil Sharma upturned the nation’s recreational habits. People like yours truly who never watched television switched on for his show: it was genuinely funny and more importantly it was free of vulgarity, although I did find Kapil’s jokes about the audiences’ weight issues to be distasteful. I felt the jokes about the tonde (paunch) would be toned down.
Alas, the ‘paunch’-line persists.
Over the years the show has become tediously repetitive. Gags in drag have dragged down the show to the level of a village nautanki. Men in women’s clothes were in vogue at the Ram Lila celebration in the villages because women were not allowed to act on stage.
Why so many drag acts on Kapil Sharma’s show? I asked him.
“This time all your grievances will be washed away,” Kapil had promised. Except for Kapil Sharma’s hairstyle and Archana Puran Singh’s couture (she’s switched to smartly-cut suits), nothing much has changed in the new season. Sharma’s show has two full-scale drag acts. One of them by Kiku Sharda is mildly funny. This Kiku plays a washerwoman named Guddi who washes dirty linen in public. So to speak.
The show is in its ninth year now. It gets more repetitive and jaded with every passing season. Clearly, the writers are the same this season as the previous ones. If they are different, they have been closely instructed to follow the humour pattern of the past. The laughter is strained. The skits are skippable.
The new season kickstarted on September 10. We saw a newly revamped Kapil Sharma (nice haircut) welcoming us back. While the producers ensured a new avatar for the host, they forgot to order the same for the show itself. The bland jokes fell out with quivering obstinacy. Kapil we were told has lost memory.
That’s right. Amnesia is a joke. I wish we could also forget that all the jokes being heard in the new season have been heard before. Kapil continues to insult his ‘wife’ Sumona Chakravarti. She is repeatedly heckled for her looks, and her parents are supposed to be thick-skinned child-producing machines while Kapil and his wife remain childless.
There is no mention of a choice here. That Kapil and Sumona are perhaps childless by choice is not a consideration: the joke is, they aren’t having sex. Ha ha.
After watching three episodes this season, I am dismayed by the oblique blandness of the presentation and quite alarmed by how non-vegetarian the purported humour has become. In the inaugural episode there was dig at Ranveer Singh’s nude photo session which thought not unfunny, comes a bit too late to evoke laughter.
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Particularly distasteful are the cringe-worthy references to the personal lives of the guests. Jackky Bhagnani and Rakul Preet Singh had to bear dating jokes. But the worst potshot (so far) was at Sushmita Sen’s alleged relationship with Lalit Modi. Why was poor Chandrachur Singh asked about Sen and Modi? Just because he co-starred with Ms Sen in Aarya? In that case, could we ask Kapil Sharma about Navjot Sidhu’s incarceration?
Chandrachur looked discernibly uncomfortable. “Could we talk about something else?” he requested.
Yes, but what? This season of The Kapil Sharma Show seems bereft of the quick quips and ready repartees that made Kapil such a phenomenal entertainer at one time. All we now have is a bone-weary replica of the original humour, sitting with guests trying hard to smile at a humour that went out of style with Honey Singh’s music.
There is hope yet (for Kapil, not Honey). Kapil Sharma should hire new writing talent. Look around at how much the world has changed during the past two years. Jokes about men in drag and women being ragged just seem sad.
Subhash K Jha is a Patna-based film critic who has been writing about Bollywood for long enough to know the industry inside out. He tweets at @SubhashK_Jha.
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