Dressed in a colourful, embroidered jacket and a blingy cap, comedian Kiku Sharda mimicked Baba Ram Rahim Singh of Dera Sacha Sauda in a spoof of the latter’s film, MSG — Messenger of God. The act was part of Zee’s New Year special Jashn-E-Ummeed, which aired on December 27. And it is this act that landed Sharda in trouble.
The actor — best known for his role as Palak on Comedy Nights with Kapil — was arrested from the show’s set on Tuesday night. “It is sad that he has been targeted in this way. He is just an actor,” said actor Vinay Pathak, his friend of many years.
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Kiku Sharda was born into a middle-class family from Jodhpur, and was named Raghavendra. His talent for comedy was evident from his childhood as he performed comedy acts during school and college days. The first in his family to join the entertainment industry, Sharda left his hometown Jodhpur for Mumbai in his early twenties.
One of his earliest breaks, said comedian Suresh Menon, his friend of 11 years, was a Hindi play titled All the Best. “His career took off with the success of the play,” said Menon, who knows him from the time of The Great Indian Laughter Challenge that aired on Star One in 2005. While the show helped him hone his comedy skills, Sharda’s friends say the 40-year-old is an all-rounder.
“He has done theatre, television and films. He was part of Ram Gopal Varma’s Darna Mana Hai, and also Anurag Kashyap’s No Smoking…He is one of the finest and the most underused actors I know ,” said Pathak.
However, it was the comedy series FIR on SAB that gave Sharda’s career the first impetus. Sharda, who played Constable Mulayam Singh Gulgule in the show, used physical comedy effectively to essay the role.
He has since used his weight to his advantage while playing comic characters. It has been central to his humour while playing different characters, like Lachha or Pankhudi, on the Colors show. “He has played several characters on the show, but Palak became a hit because of the character’s repartee with Gutthi,” said Menon, who has been on the show many times.
It is, however, after Sunil Grover — who plays Gutthi — left the show briefly that Sharda came into his own. “The conviction with which he delivers his performances is reminiscent of comedy in the cult films like Andaz Apna Apna,” said Menon.
A member of the production team of Kapil Sharma’s show said that it was during the show that the actor discovered his dancing skills. “It was part of an act with Gutthi and the episode worked, so we started adding dancing to his acts,” he added. This won him a spot as a contestant first in Nach Baliye 6 in 2013, and then in the seventh edition of Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa in 2014.
“But that said, his USP is spoofs. He is one of the finest mimics I know,” Menon said. Little did Sharda know his talent would land him in jail one day.