Anil Thakraney: Bhatti was a comic genius

26 Oct,2012

By Anil Thakraney


Long before Indian TV audiences got saddled with the motormouth Navjot Singh Sidhu, another truly funny Sardar had the nation enthralled. Long before the likes of Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal began protesting against corruption, that hilarious man, with his wicked satire, was busy giving netas and babus a great deal of tension on his popular television show.


Jaspal Bhatti’s ‘Flop Show’ was a national show-stealer on Doordarshan in the early nineties. He was like a breath of fresh air in DD’s mostly dreary programming. What is amazing about the serial is that it enjoyed a relatively short run, but many people still remember it quite vividly. Such was the comedy magic Bhatti possessed. We loved the mad Sardar not just because he dealt with incidents of corruption we encounter in our daily lives, but also because his style was never over the top (unlike Sidhu). Bhatti, even while being totally funny, performed like a common man, his troubles felt like our troubles, we could easily relate to him. I must add here that Priya Tendulkar’s Rajani enjoyed the same fan following for pretty much the same reasons, but Bhatti’s unique comedy style enhanced the overall entertainment value, the entire family would eagerly look forward to his Flop Show.


The funny man went on to do more TV shows later in his life, he even acted in and produced feature films. But sadly, as times changed, Bhatti evaporated from public memory. As private entertainment channels took control, and the focus shifted to loud, slapstick comedy. And Bhatti got left behind in the new scenario, which is a pity, really. His ideas, his stories and his acting could have got a huge play if the channels and the producers were alive to the man’s powerful, understated comic timing.


Rest in peace, Mr Bhatti. We are still busy fighting against corruption (that will never change!), but the laughter is gone. It’s time for the heavens to guffaw a bit.




PS: Remember Conrad Black? The disgraced media baron who was sent to jail after being convicted on charges of financial fraud? Well, he’s out from jail, and is now getting ready to promote his book. Here’s his recent interview with the BBC. Don’t miss the arrogance, the bluster and the I-can-do-no-wrong attitude. Black even calls the interviewer a fool. Guess if you’ve once lived the life of power, fame and riches, it becomes very, very difficult to descend to earth.


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