March 09, 2014

On Comedy

I've recently been informed that a show named Comedy Nights with Kapil is the highest rated television show on Indian television right now. I'm also assured by various people that he is hilarious. Now I haven't seen much of the show (maybe 4-5 episodes) but I hope for the sake of our country that he was having a rough day on those, because as far as I can tell, all the show consists of is:
 - Men wearing women's clothes (and since that is funny by default, not bothering to do any standup whatsoever)
 - People hitting each other and magically falling to the ground 
 - A really confusing Delhi accent
 - Something called 'babaji ka thullu' which could be anything from the finger to something even more obscene, no one knows. 
 - Getting celebrities to participate in this (and man, they do love it)

Which gets you thinking about the state of Indian comedy. I mean, look at it. It has provided a secure retirement to Navjot Singh Siddhu and Shekhar Suman, replaced all the weekend prime time slots for movies and provided consistent employment to the same actors competing every year (or six months) in the Comedy Challenge (Laughter Challenge? The one where Archana Puran Singh laughs.) Most of it relies on repetitive cross-dressing and slapstick, and the rest on innuendo that just about makes it past the censor board - though given how the I&B ministry seems to be on the verge of beeping out "damn" and "girl", it wouldn't hurt if they focused on Hindi television a bit more and left the English alone for some time. 

We're of course far from a day when there can be a Seinfeld for Indian viewers. But would it be so difficult to have a Modern Family Hindi equivalent? Think about it. 3 families, several kids, lots of drama - that's the template for most Hindi shows right now anyway. The issue really isn't even that the audience is stupid - the issue is that the writers seem to be unable to envisage a world wherein audiences could laugh at something other than a man dressed as Kapil's grandmother hitting on male actors. Or not having a laugh track / studio audience that's high on something.

Remember Mahi Way? No you don't, because it was discontinued. Remember Star One? Sure, because at some point they just started airing all the programming that Star Plus wouldn't. Remember, for God's sake, even Shrimaan Shrimati? It really wasn't so bad. 

And honestly, now there are wedding videos on my Facebook timeline (all the frikkin' time) with better production values than Hindi television shows (but with the small issue that they take songs I like and make them the background of a couple I barely know, getting really handsy, and that's just disturbing). What went wrong? 

So, dear reader, if you feel compelled to watch it, here's a list of other things you could consider watching:
1. Any David Dhawan movie (I'm not even going to mention Our Beloved and Most Loved Govinda and Comedy Nights in the same breath, but all I'm going to say is that any David Dhawan movie is funnier. Even the ones with Salman Khan.)
2. Arnab Goswami on Times Now
3. Anyone on India TV
4. KRK's Youtube reviews
5. Bigg Boss, Indian Idol, Roadies! Any reality show that delicately balances that seriousness of random *tasks* with the utter hare-brained-ness of the participants.

Go now, run along and spread the word. 

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