Yesterday, Kapil Sharma was fun, so was his guest, the rich, young, eligible, cricket hero Virat Kohli. The programme had the usual gags, young girls flirting with Virat, who blushed appropriately and tried to convince the audience he is no brat.
There was also, expectedly, a regular dropping of Anushka Sharma’s name. In between, stand-up comedian Kapil made fun of his wife-on-TV and her family. Daadi dropped in, and towards the end, the very popular bua had Virat do an ad for a pink lipishtick. He obliged.
Everything went according to plan. The unplanned portion of Kapil’s show, the questions from the audience, is where things went awry. Two girls with fair skin asked questions, one about Virat’s nickname, another wanted the cricketer to go down on his knees for her because he had done it for a ‘special someone’. Kapil, after the usual ribbing, allowed their outrageous questions and requests.
But he came down heavily on a girl who admitted she was from Borivali, Mumbai, and who, in fact, had asked the more sensible question -- on Virat’s diet: on a rainy day, would the cricketer indulge in pakoras or would he worry about his health? Kapil hated her question; he made fun of where she came from.
While I know this is part of standard comedy, I felt Kapil crossed the fine line between humour and insulting someone’s origins. I also feel he did this because the questioner had a dark skin tone.
This was immediately followed by Kapil asking Virat why he had turned down a light-hearted marriage proposal from a “gori-chitti” British sportswoman.
OK, now I can hear fans of ‘Comedy Nights with Kapil’ wondering why this is a problem. Colour and gender are common fare for comedy, especially in India. I am disappointed because I thought Kapil Sharma would rise above that, especially given his popularity and pan-India appeal.
Families bond over Kapil’s show, so do colleagues. My neighbour in office, BS news editor Santanu Bose, and I, discovered a common interest when we realized he tickles our funny bone. Some of his best acts have featured sports people, including Jwala Gutta, one of India’s rare recongnisable female athletes, who sent out a strong message for putting girls into sport.
So, there is a lot of good going on in that comedy act. Now, if Kapil Sharma can control the bad.
He can remember, for starters, that he himself has a complexion described in India as ‘wheatish’, which has not come in the way of his popularity. Also, Mr Sharma’s own story indicates, it is unimportant where you come from. It is where you are trying to reach that matters.