The original stand-up comedian - Shekhar, who once ruled television with his show Movers & Shakers says that Kapil Sharma needs to reinvent himself quickly...
He did stand-up comedy when Indians didn’t know what it was. Heck even he didn’t know what it meant! “I was an actor and stand-up comedy was just another role for me,” confesses Shekhar Suman. Turned out, he was so good in his new role that his show Movers & Shakers ran for four years on Sony. Later he hosted it under different names — Simply Shekhar and Carry On Shekhar on various channels.
The show was known for its irreverent take on current affairs that included politics, sports and entertainment. Shekhar with his gift of the gab, sense of humour and witty one-liners made the show entertaining. “For me doing the show was an experiment. I saw myself as RK Laxman’s common man who observed as well as interacted with people,” he shares. The show, that was on the lines of Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, opened with Shekhar’s monologue, after which he did interviews with celebrities and had a music band to break the monotony. “I had no ensemble cast, the entire show was driven by content and I had to rely on my talent and writers,” he explains. He had a diverse variety of celebrities coming on his show like Govinda, Shah Rukh Khan and Bal Thackeray.
So, why did he stop hosting it? He lets on that Sony wanted him to sign a 10-year contract with them but he did not want to do that all his life. “I am primarily an actor and I wanted to do films, TV and theatre too. But because I was doing this show daily, it left me no time for anything else,” he says and till date regrets turning down the role of Chunnibabu in Devdas. “Sanjay Leela Bhansali had called me saying he had a good role for me, but I couldn’t take it up because of Movers & Shakers. Also, I didn’t want the image of a funny man. I would probably slap a person if he says ‘you are a funny man’. When you do something better than everybody you become complacent. That’s the time you have to get out of your comfort zone and do something else,” says the actor who has the knack of reinventing himself. From a not-so-successful film actor to becoming the highest paid TV actor to being the pioneer of stand-up TV shows to winning rave reviews for his play Ek Mulaqat, to foraying into singing, the actor has done it all.
Ask him if he has watched Kapil Sharma’s new show and he says, “It was like Bombay Velvet.. too much hoopla, but hugely disappointing. I can understand Kapil’s dilemma — If you move from one place to another and you do the old stuff, people ask you, why you are doing the old stuff, if you do something new, then they say that was better. Kapil is hugely talented, but unfortunately everything has a shelf life and Kapil has lived that life. He has to quickly do something else and reinvent himself.”
Incidentally, Shekhar has judged Kapil in The Great Indian Laughter Challenge, the show with which the latter made his entry into television. “Kapil had that spark in him and could think on his feet. But hosting your own show requires a different talent — the skill of language and quick repartees. Though Kapil is good in that, and has great set of talent around him, it’s getting repetitive. Why for Christ’s sake do you require men to become women for humour? A little act here and there is fine, but becoming a cross-dresser doesn’t make sense to me. However, there is an audience for everything.”
One cannot say this is good or this is bad. As far as I am concerned, this kind of humour is pedestrian, but these shows — whether it’s Kapil’s or Krushna Abhishek’s — they are doing a similar thing. Insult, seems to be the new cool in comedy.”
Movers & Shakers in comparison, he says was cerebral. “It was based on newspaper reports and I would give a funny academic angle to it,” he quips adding that it was tough to be consistent with humour. “Beyond a point, I would think what next, but this country always gives news, politicians especially and since I specialised in satire, it worked,” smiles Shekhar who would often target the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpai and Laloo Prasad Yadav. “They were my muse, but after them there was nobody exciting till Narendra Modi came into power. He has a strong persona, and there is so much to talk about him,” says Shekhar.
Does that mean he is considering making a comeback with his iconic show? “Some channels have approached me and even I feel it’s a good time to return. There is a lot happening in this country — the intolerance debate, for instance, which can be talked about. Movers & Shakers was not just a stand-up comedy show, it was a wake-up call too,” he concludes.
Also check out the press conference held to announce The Kapil Sharma Show in the video below:
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