Kapil Sharma: Definitely Not Done Yet

04 Feb,2022



By Shailesh Kapoor


Shailesh KapoorKapil Sharma is arguably (or perhaps inarguably) the biggest television celebrity in India over the last decade. His astonishing rise to fame in 2013, with Comedy Nights With Kapil, was followed by a spate of controversies, where the star comedian lost his mojo, in a manner of speaking. I wrote about it in 2016 (The Loss of Innocence) and 2018 (The Fault in our Star) in this column.


Since then, Sharma’s show has made a comeback on Sony. But the going has been tough, especially because of the pandemic. With an irregular pattern of film releases, the celebrity line-up on the show has been less than ideal, with more ‘filler episodes’ than desirable. The show took a long-ish break in 2020. Since its return in early 2021, the ratings have settled around the 1.5-2.0 mark, which, by no yardstick, is a runaway success for weekend non-fiction property.


I watched Sharma’s Netflix special, interestingly titled I’m Not Done Yet, in this context. What can a 50-minute special achieve for a comedian (besides a wider global reach, perhaps?) than a long-running mass TV show hasn’t already managed to, I wondered.


The first few minutes had me sighing. The jokes didn’t seem to be landing, with only an occasional one worth a chuckle. Maybe he’s trying too hard for this one, and it’s going to be a colossal disappointment… That was my mind racing ahead of the content.


But soon, it dawned upon me that this is not a usual stand-up special. This is a biopic-ish confessional of sorts, almost like a no-holds-barred interview, except that there is no interviewer. Chapter by chapter, Sharma bared his life, finding humour in his own imperfections. It was difficult to say which incidents are real and which are exaggerated, or even entirely made up. But the candor shone though, bright and clear.


I also realised why he needed a streaming platform for this. Drinking has been a huge ‘factor’ in Sharma’s life, and that’s a topic off limits on mass television. In this special, he went on a rampage, dishing out jokes around his drinking habit, not always funny but generally insightful, as if they had been bottled up inside him for the last few years, waiting to find the right destination.


The political jokes, including some very subtle jibes at the current Prime Minister, and an emphatic endorsement of his predecessor, were a delight, if only because they were attempted in the first place. In times when channels and streamers want to stay away from all things political, Sharma must be lauded for having the courage to go down that route, and then be smart enough to make it so subtle it won’t ignite any controversy at all. Well played!


He also spoke about his family, especially his relationship with his father, even dedicating a sappy but surprisingly effective song to him, as the closing act of the special.


It may not be the best content through its length, but the Kapil Sharma special on Netflix stands out. It a rare comedy special where the comedian’s stardom is the central subject, and it is (rightly) assumed that he is famous and admired enough for content that focuses on him, as a celebrity and a common person, to be engaging. I say “a common person” because that continues to be Sharma’s public connect with the GEC masses, despite him having amassed wealth and fame that is anything but commonplace.


I wish he spent a couple of minutes on the Sunil Grover chapter of his life too. Their pairing remains the crowning jewel of Sharma’s long and successful TV stint. And we don’t know if they will come together ever again. Maybe Sharma is keeping that material aside for his second special.


We can’t call this a ‘comeback’, because his TV show continues to be on air. But Kapil Sharma has found a new voice on Netflix. A voice that we want to hear more from.


Post a Comment 

Comments are closed.