New Delhi, Aug 15 (IANS) The concept is fresh, the content is clean and the laughs on "Comedy Nights With Kapil" are exceedingly entertaining for the "entire family". It even gets tweets from Afghanistan. Its popularity and high TRPs have catapulted Kapil Sharma, the host and producer of the show, into a star, but the stand-up comedian says he is reaping the benefit of several years of struggle and hard work.
Kapil came into the limelight after winning the third season of "The Great Indian Laughter Challenge" and since then, there has been no looking back for him.
"People noticed me when I came in '.... Laughter Challenge' seven years ago, but nobody is aware of the work that I did in theatre. People usually feel that I am an overnight star, but this is not true," Kapil told IANS in an interview.
"Whatever I am today is because of my hard work and struggle. I did serious theatre, I also did comedy plays without taking any money and those days have made me a better person," he added.
An emcee, an actor, a host and on top of it all a stand-up comedian, Kapil wears many hats. He is satisfied with his career graph.
"I started comedy in 2005. I have seen massive improvement in myself. When I came to Mumbai in 2001, I felt there is nothing for me in this dream city. But today I think that whatever god has given is enough...and if I deserve more, god will give it to me," he said.
"Comedy Nights with Kapil" is the result of year-long planning and ideating.
"It feels great when your show is tagged as one of the highest rated on TV. Our show is Number one in the non-fiction category. I usually say that the show happened out of fun, but in reality it took us a year to come up with 'Comedy Nights...'," he said.
The initial plan was for just 26 episodes but after receiving a positive response, the crew shot another 10 episodes. Now the channel has asked him to continue the show.
"We get tweets from Afghanistan saying that people love my show there. I also feel good when audiences say that after a long time, there is show that they can watch with their entire family. From the last few weeks, our show is getting the highest TRPs, but despite that every Thursday, the pressure of maintaining the same TRPs gives me sleepless night," he said.
"I am not doing any new comedy. I have given it a new packaging. Involvement and support of Bollywood make the show more fun and audience-friendly," he added.
Appreciation from superstars like Shah Rukh and Salman Khan is encouraging.
"For the first time, Bollywood is watching the show. Shah Rukh bhai watches the show when he is not travelling. Salman Khan too watches the show and gives his valuable feedback," said the comedian.
The set is designed as a house and most of the action takes place in the living room. Kapil is the main protagonist, who lives with his grandmother, aunt, wife, and servant. Cricketer-turned-politician-turned-comedy show host Navjot Singh Sidhu's one-liners spice up the show.
Talking about the format, Kapil said: "The audience is important for any show's success. I love talking to the audience and they like it too. Earlier, people used to come to watch the shooting, but now they request us to invite them and take a pot shot at them," he said.
"We don't insult the audience sitting in our show. That's just for fun and it makes our 120 crore (1.2 billion) population laugh, so what's the harm? Our interviews and audience interaction sections are impromptu. No scripting is involved in these two segments," he added.
Kapil always wanted to be a singer and acting happened by chance. In 1998, as a first year student he joined his college's theatre group in order to stay close to a girl.
"Later I started enjoying my work and won third position in college youth festival... This was the time when I was studying in Hindu College, Amritsar. I did my post- graduation from Apeejay College of Fine Arts, Jalandhar. After that I became the drama teacher in a girls college," he added.
His hobby has now become his responsibility.
"Comedy started as a hobby for me, soon it became a passion and now I feel the responsibility to make people laugh, even if I have to make fun of myself. Many people earn money and fame, but nothing can beat the love you get from the audience and this makes me content," said Kapil.
Who is his inspiration?
"I admire Shah Rukh and after seeing him, I feel that I have done nothing in my life. I want to adopt his qualities like hard work, dedication and the way he gives space to others. He came on my show twice, but never made me feel that he is a superstar," said Kapil, who will soon start shooting his Punjabi film.
(Nivedita can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)