Jaspal Bhatti’s Flop Show, a satire on socio-cultural issues using humor, which used to air on Doordarshan in 1990s, has come back to life after around two decades. Its principle cast is back with a play, Chowki No.10, as a homage to the writer, director and lead actor of the show, at Jaspal Bhatti Humor Festival, which started on Thursday. The festival is being organised to mark his birth anniversary on March 3.
Savita Bhatti, wife of Bhatti, said last year Kuldeep Sharma had floated the idea of this play during the festival, but at that time there was no scope of doing it as they had already decided the schedule. “I okayed it as it worked well with our ideals, plus it gets people, who have actually worked with Jaspal, together and that is the biggest tribute to him. Our initial thought was to reunite the whole cast, but unfortunately we have lost so many of our members,” she stated. Taking a pause, she added, “But then, we thought we could at least get the core actors and some sort of reunion could take place.”
Kuldeep, the director of the play, said this fitted the theme of the festival. About his experience with Jaspal, he said he was a wonderful and creative man who had opened doors for Chandigarh artists “like me”. Kuldeep, who is also the director of Tagore Theatre, which is hosting the event, rued how the comedy scenario has changed. “Vulgarity has become central now. We used to have clean and satirical humor with a social message. Nowadays, at times, it is about making faces or insulting. Also the standard of comedy isn’t very healthy now,” he said.
About the formal reunion of the Flop Show team, he said while Savita doesn’t do much plays, Vinod Sharma has been working with him and Brijesh Ahuja is mainly a singer. “We often meet informally, but not on stage that much.” Vinod, a long-time friend and associate of Jaspal, narrated his journey with him: “I’ve been with Nonsense Club since its inception. Whenever the members give a call, all of us assemble without hesitation.”
He added they try to present the prevailing evils in a satirical way because that was the aim of his comedy, which he believed to be of more impact. “He always picked socially-relevant issues like domestic violence, brides’ sale or drying up of a Sukhna lake,” he said. Brijesh, another core member of the troupe and a singer, said he remembered Bhatti sab used to write the scripts for all his shows. “I would contribute once in a while, mainly to the songs that came at the end of the show. We had such a great relation that we would often end up with many fully-improvised skits on sets,” he said.
On a personal note, Brijesh remembered his days with Jaspal as a “great time” as they did everything together, be it fun or work. He said that there was a spark in Jaspal that most, he has worked with since then, don’t have.