Chutki wears bright salwar-kameez, cheap perfume, funky, blue shades and two plaits. Her body language defines the typical small-town girl and her Punjabi accented broken English make her likeable. You may remember her as Guthi (from Comedy Nights with Kapil). In real life, Guthi (Sunil Grover) is a sharp dresser with chiseled features, and has a deep, husky voice.
Sunil Grover’s drag comedy act in ‘Comedy Nights with Kapil’ on Colors won him many accolades a few months ago. He became the life of the chat show. “Kapil-Guthi, Guthi-Kapil, Kapil-Audience, Audience-Kapil…,” became her trademark way of introducing guests. And then one day, Grover quit the show when he was at the peak of popularity, to the disappointment of his fans. However, he soon announced his next interview-based comedy show with actors Manish Paul and Dolly Ahluwalia, titled Mad in India on Star Plus, where he plays Chutki.
In Delhi to promote the show, Grover gave a glimpse into Chutki’s world, which is oddly similar to Guthi’s. Probe him about leaving Comedy Nights…and he says, “It’s such an old question, I don’t want to talk about it. It was a difficult decision but I was compelled to take it.”
About the similarity between Chutki and Guthi, Grover highlights the differences in his characteristic wit. “They are different — one uses a three-blade razor, the other uses a two-blade razor,” he says, adding, “There are differences but the objective is the same — to make people laugh.”
While Guthi’s character catapulted Grover to fame, it is not his first outing as an actor. The 36-year-old from Mandi Dabwali, Haryana, did his Masters in Theatre from Panjab University, followed by a stint in professional theatre and in 2003, he shifted to Mumbai. “My friends lived there. We had money and lived in a plush flat and then one day the money got over and I had to work. I shifted to a 1BHK and began doing voice overs. This is when Sud also happened,” reminisces Grover. Sud is one of Grover’s more famous characters, which was created for the radio. “Mumbai was a culture shock.
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Back home, everyone is family, while here the meaning of attachments and personal space is very different,” he says. It was while hosting a show on Star One in 2009 that Grover suggested the character of a small-town girl to the producers and since then, he has been playing it, and finally perfected it as Guthi. “I am from a small town and being a man, I am interested in women. So, obviously I observed the girls in Mandi Dabwali and this is how they were. It comes very naturally to me,” he says. (See Pics: Sunil Grover aka Gutthi is back on TV in a new avatar)
Apart from playing Chutki on Mad in India, Grover is also working on a film. “There were many offers once people saw me on Comedy Nights…but I can only do one or two things at a time. The industry has been very kind, but what has touched me about my character is that it was adored by everybody — from an old lady to a school kid,” he says.
While television is the single most far reaching medium, it does come with a number of limitations, especially for those who do comedy. Kapil Sharma, the host of Comedy Nights… too has been in trouble over his misogynist comments and various other comedy shows in India have received flak for one reason or the other. “Humour ke liye dimaag aur dil side mein rakhna chahiye. People shouldn’t take everything so personally, and at the same time, those on TV should also be sensitive. There are social topics which are taboo here and that limits me as an actor. Nobody wants to challenge the intellect of the people,” says Grover.
As Mad in India goes on air on February 16, Grover manages a tight schedule with promotional activities lined up every hour. The fame, however, hasn’t taken away his humility as he obliges everyone with photo ops and autographs. Though visibly tired, Grover, seems to be on a mission to make people smile.