The Kapil Sharma Show went off air a few months ago due to your ill-health. How are you now, and when does the show return?
I’m better now but I need to lose weight and get back in shape. I’ll focus on that after my film releases. And that’s also when I will sit down with my creative team to plan what we do next. I am not bringing back The Kapil Sharma Show. I’ll do something new, and maybe this time, attempt a seasonal. When you make a good show and it does well, it’s tough to take a break and turn it seasonal because the money coming in is a huge draw. But I see that it also affects one’s health.
But there have also been controversies, of alcohol abuse, tantrums and so on.
In the place and circumstances I come from, we lived within our means. When I began my career in TV, I worked hard, for 10 years straight and without a break. I didn’t realise when I moved from a cycle to a Mercedes. I managed to acquire all these things but I wasn’t sure how to handle them. I didn’t sit down to think I need a PR or a business manager to guide me. I said and did what I felt without giving it much thought. I was two drinks down when I tweeted to Modiji and dragged him into my personal issue. I haven’t changed since my younger days where my friends and I would return to the hostel after winning a match, drink and brawl, and then forget about it in the morning. That’s our culture. But now I am 36, and maybe I need to act my age.
Do you mean you need to be mature, or just more careful?
It’s about thinking something through before doing it. For instance, once, I returned home after a bad meeting with Colors, had a few drinks and tweeted that we will take Comedy Nights with Kapil off air. I realised what I had done only the next morning. I did that in anger and under the influence of alcohol. I was angry because the channel wanted to launch another show called Comedy Nights Bachao and I told them that the move would dilute the brand and confuse the audience. My anger was justified but my means of expressing it were not.
How difficult is it to sit here today and accept all your mistakes?
I realise my mistakes very quickly. I just need to begin learning from them. Maybe my comedy is richer now due to my experiences. I have seen a lot and that slips into my comedy. I am not sure if someone born with a silver spoon will have the humour I am capable of.
From a participant in The Great Indian Laughter Challenge in 2007 to having your own comedy show and turning a film producer, it’s been an eventful journey for you.
I didn’t ever think I would get here, in fact, I didn’t think I will be a producer until two years ago. While I was doing theatre in Punjab, my ambition was limited to getting a break with Laughter Challenge. I was rejected four times before I got a chance. That opportunity got me Comedy Circus, which I won for six consecutive seasons. Colors thought I deserved my own show and they launched Comedy Nights with Kapil. Then The Kapil Sharma Show happened with Sony, which is a replica of Comedy Nights, in a way. But seeing myself on the big screen is something I had never ever imagined. I didn’t even know what to expect from it. Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon wasn’t an expensive film to make but the producers managed to recover the cost from the first day’s opening. I was surprised by the audience’s love for me. This encouraged me to do my second film. But people told me that my first felt like an extension of my TV show with its gag-a-minute comedy. I thought the second should be different, and I shouldn’t dominate every frame in it. To control the quality, I also turned producer for it.
Your film Firangi, which releases on November 24, is set in pre-Partition India. Is it based on real events?
It is a fictional story set in pre-Partition India. Firangi is a mix of light comedy, drama and a love story. It revolves around a jobless young man in love. The girl’s family insists he get himself a job first before he marries her. He finds employment with the British, which doesn’t go down well with his lady love’s grandfather, a Gandhivadi. From thereon, things go south for him.
There is another emerging market for comedy, available through the digital medium, performed by stand-up comics such as East India Comedy and AIB. What are your views on them?
I haven’t watched them much. That kind of comedy is for urban, moneyed youth with Netflix and smartphones. My comedy is more rooted, it’s for the masses. And unlike the AIB Roast, my comedy is clean, without any double meanings, and it caters to family audience. I challenge anyone who can point out a dirty joke I may have cracked on my shows.