Zakir Khan on his Amazon exclusive: Like my character, I feel pressure to make everyone around me happy
Comedian Zakir Khan has starred and written the script of his fiction debut, Amazon Prime Video India exclusive Chacha Vidhayak Hai Hamare.
"Chacha vidhayak hai hamare," said every sakht launda ever. This waving of the nepotism flag or flashing of the silver spoon is ingrained in the monster size egos of thousands of Indians. But here is one man, who does throw that line around but without throwing his weight. "Chacha vidhayak hai hamare" ceases to be an I've-got-my-eyes-on-you threat and transforms into a can-I-help-you-with-my-contacts offer.
In Amazon Prime Video India's new exclusive Chacha Vidhayak Hai Hamare, comedian Zakir Khan turns to fiction and plays a Delhi guy who goes about claiming to be a he-who-must-not-be-named MLA's nephew. Here are some excerpts of an exclusive interview with Zakir:
How has your journey with Amazon been, from Haq Se Single to Chacha Vidhayak Hai Hamare?
I think this is the best client I’ve worked with. Their creative involvement is very positive and supportive in terms of creative calls. They give you your space and they believe in your belief. They stand by you if something goes wrong. The first time, the show had some technical glitches, they gave us enough buffer time to fix things and redo it. It’s very comforting to work with someone who can understand the meter.
How different was it to adapt to fiction? Does it require a different muscle to do comedy in fiction, as opposed to stand-up? And does writing your own fiction show help in acting?
Yes, it helped a lot. Had someone else written it, I would not have been able to do it. I have written it according to my convenience and personal experience. You can own those things and rework on it. As an actor, you get an already established character, which is comparatively difficult to enact. If you are a first time actor, you should try to write it. It was difficult for me to adapt with fiction. I tried to act for three days, I thought I’ll enact becoming Naseeruddin Shah, but the acting was not at par so I gave up on it. And since then, it became fine. I’m not a really big fan of my acting. But my standard is that even if the acting is invisible, it’s fine.
Have you seen other fiction shows of fellow comedians? Like Biswa or Sumukhi's shows? What will be your feedback to them?
If you see, everyone is coming up with such different ideas and that is very enduring to me. I did not know the people around me knew how to narrate so many stories. Sumukhi’s show (Pushpavalli) is drastically different than what I had expected. It is a very goofy show. Laakhon Main Ek (Biswa's show) was very interesting. I really liked Shaitaan Haveli too. What Andaaz Apna Apna used to do for me, Shaitaan Haveli did the same, considering that I have seen a lot of B-grade horror movies.
Talking about your show, dozens of people rely on Ronny (Zakir's character) to help them out with their issues, do you feel the same pressure in real life? To keep everyone happy around you? Does this responsibility choke you any time?
Yes, I have felt this. People think that I chill with Shah Rukh Khan but that is not true. People around me know my status but my relatives believe that I chill with SRK because I stay in Mumbai and they think we stay in the same locality (laughs out loud). When my cousins from Rajasthan visit, they usually say, “I’m coming on the 6th, could you ask Salman Khan if he’s free to meet?" Why would he meet me? I’m the eldest son in my family and I have two younger brothers. I was the school head boy and I had a lot of responsibility. This is who I am now, I’m like Rooney. I have done all of this. My experiences in school have helped me a lot to write today. I know when the gas tank is lost, how to get the new one.
Are comedians using fiction to say what they want to say since the censorship is more direct in stand-up comedy? In fiction, you can just blame the character or 'script ki demand'.
Censorship has no role to play. This question has a suggestion. Why would I follow your suggestion? I do what I feel like. I have no answer to this.
How has your experience of growing up in Indore and living in Delhi helped you gain the 'chaud' that you had to show off in this show?
A man who sells chhole kulche, he will ensure that he’s the best in doing that. It depends a lot on the personality and not the city. The way I was in Indore and Delhi, depends on three major things — your family, your upbringing and your environment. If you are brought up in different kinds of environment, you learn and evolve a lot. I feel blessed that I have switched five or six cities. This power as a teenager seems very attractive. I have seen my cousins showcasing the chaud. When I came to Indore, I tried to do the same. When I went to Delhi, I saw an extreme version of it. I was a silent observer there because I understood of power of being a localite.
Chacha Vidhayak Hai Hamare addresses the scene in North India where every Tom, Dick and Harry is power drunk. How do you think that can change?
The middle India and South India, it’s better people pick this up because clearly we are not going to leave this habit (laughs).
Do you feel a lot of budding comedians are aping your style to get noticed?
I feel great about it. Even I was learning. It often happens that when you consume someone a lot, you don’t even realise when that person becomes a part of you. I think they are probably watching a lot of videos. Even I watch a lot of comedians and when I watch three episodes continuously, I feel that they have come inside me. I watch the four sequels of Pirates of the Caribbean together and the next morning, I woke up as Jack Sparrow. When I came into comedy, everyone was writing about stereotypes so I thought I’ll do the same. So this is justified. The audience has to choose.
Chacha Vidhayak Hai Hamare starts streaming on 18 May.
All images from YouTube.
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