The dhoti-clad Jat known for his inimitable punch lines, usually delivered with a deadpan expression, is back on the small screen. But this time, Udham Singh, who goes by the name of Munish Makhija in real life, will be seen as a cab driver on Cash Cab — Meter Chalu Hai, the desi version of the Emmy Award-winning show Cash Cab on UTV’s Bindaas.
Packed with wit and sarcasm, the show caters to a varied audience. “I play a cabbie from Haryana, who picks up passengers and gives them a free ride while quizzing them all the way. The passengers have a chance to win prize money of upto Rs 20,000,” says the former VJ from Channel [V]. <b1>
“The concept of the cab driver quizzing the passenger seemed very interesting, and moreover the international show is quite famous in many countries. So when I was offered this assignment I accepted immediately,” says Makhija, who went from being a jeans-and-T-shirt-sporting, English-speaking VJ to the blanket-and-dhoti-clad, Haryanvi-speaking Udham Singh, a character that helped Makhija scale dizzying heights of fame.
“At times my passengers recognise me as Udham Singh… and that feels good,” says this one-time T-shirt designer, who also featured in television commercials as Udham Singh.
Interestingly, Makhija also had a stint as visiting professor in several Delhi colleges. As a musician, he has composed the background score for films like Paap, Rog and Dhokha. “I introduced Rahat Fateh Ali Khan to Bollywood with Mann Ki Lagaan in Paap,” he reveals.
As the caustic cabbie, Makhija offers passengers fruits, just for fun. “At times, they are quite intelligent and answer questions instantaneously, but at times they are really slow. That is when I need to speed things up,” says the ‘cabbie’, who still writes his own scripts. But given the traffic situation in Mumbai, being a cabbie is tough. “I’d like to keep moving… embark on endless journeys from one place to another.”