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THE evening was about memories, memorable moments and of course; laughter. The first day of the ‘Jaspal Bhatti Humour Festival 2017’ was dedicated to Punjabi comedy, and celebrated the vision and legacy of Bhatti and his inimitable style of humour. While the audience celebrated names in Punjabi comedy and remembered Bhatti, for Savita Bhatti, the evening was an emotional journey, as March 3 is also Jaspal Bhatti’s birthday.
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“It is a privilege and honour to perform here and establish a connection with the audience. No matter where you go, Punjabi comedy has an audience and its popularity is increasing every day. We have grown up seeing Jaspal Bhatti. His humour transcended borders. It was clean, socially relevant, fearless, and questioned the system at every step and this festival and our act is a salute to his style, unmatched and unique,” said Satti Sembi, who added how he never prepares before a show, and performs according to the audience and their reactions.
The genre of satirical comedy, be it Bhatti’s famous ‘Ulta Pulta’, ‘Mahaul Theek Hai’, added Deepak Raja, had a message for everyone and people of all ages could connect to Bhatti’s humour, which was for the entire family and without any vulgarity. “I can see his face, as I speak of him. I remember he had come for my wedding, and I asked him jokingly about what he had put in my shagun envelope. He asked me to open it, and I found Rs 10 in the envelope. I asked him why only Rs 10, and he with a straight face told me, the kind of food you fed us, this is more than enough. He found humour in every aspect of life,” said Raja, adding that he had started his journey with Bhatti, and the base of his work comes from him.
Bhatti started in a time when there was no social media or platform, and despite this he reached out to so many people because of his sheer hard work, writing acumen and dedication. “These days you can take shortcuts, achieve instant fame with double-meaning jokes, and get lakhs of views on social media. But Bhatti ji created humour that was honest and one that we all still remember. He was a complete natural; there was no one like him. Punjabi humour can sometimes be too animated and over-done. But he was so subtle and always effective,” added the performers.
Though Ssumier Pasricha (of Pummy Aunty fame) had never worked with Jaspal Bhatti, he talked about how it was wonderful to be part of a festival dedicated to him. “We are blessed that we have been chosen to make people laugh and our comedy comes from real life. We believe every situation in our life can be turned into a comedy, and we can beat stress with laughter,” said Sembi and Raja.
The festival is on at Tagore Theatre, from 6.30-9 pm. On March 4, on the English comedy day you can laugh with Amit Tandon, Atul Khatri and Jeeveshu Ahluwalia.