Ha! Just meet four survivors of the comedy business in the city. Bole to Cyrus Sahukar, Cyrus Broacha, Gaurav Kapur and Sajid Khan get chortling with our evergrin Nikhil Taneja.
Suddenly, Raju Srivastava of Laughter Challenge ha-ha fame is grinning at you from billboards all over the city. An obvious inheritor of Johnny Lever’s kidneys, he’s evidently guffawing all the way to the bank. Vir Das can get you into splits. Purbi Joshi haazir hoti rehti hai. Television’s humour honchos Vinay Pathak and Ranvir Shorey are kinda big in the movies. Shah Rukh Khan mimic Sunil Grover has a captive audience. Archana Puran Singh, Gaurav Gera and Suresh Menon (forget him in Hello though) have an easygoing presence, the screen size no bar. And then there are the big-time survivors of the comedy biz. Here’s chatting up four 365 x 12 rib ticklers:
How essential is comedy?
People need to laugh. How would you like it if you didn’t laugh at all for 24 hours?
Who has inspired you?
Kishore Kumar and the Marx Brothers.
What makes you laugh ?
Funny situations like two people fighting over a car accident.
What makes you cry ?
Watching my own shows!
You’ve said that quite a few moments in Heyy Babyy are straight out of your private life.
I haven’t made anyone pregnant but I’m still single. I’m nearly 40, and still unmarried. I can’t commit to women, I love kids and I don’t give girlfriends the respect they deserve.
Tell me about your role in the movie Rakeysh Mehra’s
I play a watering plant. Abhishek Bachchan waters me in the film. It’s true! After they finish watering, they tell me, “Go home, we’ll call you, don’t call us.”
Get serious, bro.
Well, I’m a plant with thorns. (Laughs) Okay seriously, everyone has been sweet to me on the sets. Every day, I realise that everyone around me is a genius. So, I feel like becoming a gardener because that’s the only thing I’m brilliant at.
Did your stint at MTV make you funny?
MTV? Hmm, strangely my memory of being funny as a child is people grunting at my jokes. My friends don’t find me funny, they say I’m plain irritating.
What do you find funny?
Our quirks make us hilarious. I’ve grown up around dogs, they’re fascinating. They don’t hold grudges. Funny no?
Who’s the funniest person you can recall?
An economics tutor who would ask for biscuits, fold them in tissues and take them home. Once when he didn’t get the biscuits, he grabbed my hand which can be a disturbing experience for a 13-year-old. He wanted to check my veins to see if my mental balance was okay. It wasn’t.
Don’t your friends object when you mimic them on
MTV Kickass Mornings?
No, they like attention. Actually we don’t have much money at MTV, so it’s like a family show. Whoever comes in is featured. Recently, I made a friend from Goa wear a weird wig and shoot a show as a criminal. I’ve never heard from him after that.
When do you get serious?
All the time. There is a part of me that is not noisy, loud or irritating. No one can be funny all the time.
What is comedy to you?
I am very paranoid about hurting people. I don’t talk about anyone’s private life. But I genuinely feel that people love you if you can make them laugh. They forget their worries. Everyone looks beautiful when they laugh, which is why I respect the business of comedy.
You were an RJ at 17 and then a VJ.
(Chuckles) Is that a crime? When I was in college, I’d do anything to bunk. I got a break in radio. Later, I got a call from Channel [V] but I didn’t want to move from Delhi. When they talked money, I was on the next flight to Bombay.
Are you perceived as a funny guy?
Not always. Like when I go to a restaurant and tell them no sugar since I am diabetic, initially they think I am joking.. but then they understand.
How are you handling your diabetes?
I do awareness work for the Diabetic Research Cell in Delhi. Ignorance is the real killer because diabetes can be controlled.
I believe you’ve written a film script called Make Me a Match.
It’s still with producers, I don’t know if it will ever get made. Some day I’ll write a book on the script.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done?
Visiting cable operators, clicking pictures with their families and making sure that Channel [V] stays in the top 20 channels.
What makes you cry?
I look at the mirror every day and cry with joy, “Wow! There’s so much beauty in this world!”
What do you want from life now?
I’ve shifted my focus to films. I hope that works. But I’d really like a summer home in the hills.. with large windows, overlooking a valley, where I can just sit and write.
Very difficult question you’re asking baba. When I learn to be better to my family, I think I’ll become a human being. Otherwise, I’m very nice to the general public.
Is a sense of humour essential for veejaying ?
If you can’t get work anywhere else and have no respect in society, then you veejay baba.
How has veejaying changed?
When I started out, veejays were very serious — they had American accents and views on music. I’d wonder why because MTV isn’t a serious channel. The Parliament is supposed to be serious but it isn’t. Maybe all MPs should become veejays.
How did you land up becoming a Pepsi mascot for a while?
At that time, Shah Rukh Khan was sick and Amitabh Bachchan was injured. They couldn’t find people who actually drink Pepsi and were willing to endorse it. I was desperate for publicity. I said I’ll do anything — I’d wear a sari, I’d abuse myself if they want.
Ever lose your cool?
When someone bangs my car, because then I have to face my father. I went home once with a banged car, I was bleeding, but my father just wanted to check how the car was.
Were you funny from the beginning?
This is a very funny question baba because I couldn’t have been funny from the end.
What scares you?
After my wife, no one is as scary.
You were made a Bakra, too, with the help of Prahlad Kakkar.
Is Prahlad giving you money to promote him?
What do you want from life now ?
I’m already old. I want to retire. I’ve to spend the rest of my life running away from my wife. I hope she doesn’t read this! She gets physically violent when she reads my jokes on her. I have scars on my body to prove this. Please take a photo, I’m not lying. Now I’ve decided that I’ll join politics or play cricket with myself.