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The Curious Case of Kapil Sharma

Stardom Interrupted: The Curious Case of Kapil Sharma

Kapil Sharma’s small-screen stardom was not only the stuff of entertainment but an aspirational tale offering a blueprint to beat the odds in a nepotistic world. It was the success story that every struggling outsider hankered after. Viewers parted with guffaws since they identified with this Son of Amritsar with an unpretentious sense of humour, as one of their own.

Born to a lower middle-class family, Sharma’s father was a head constable and his mother, a homemaker. He took up his first job in a telephone booth at the young age of 15. The funny man also performed in night jagratas to help support his family.

Kapil’s father passed away after battling cancer when he was still completing his college education. It was during this time that he honed his acting skills. Sharma received a sponsorship for his education after he started participating in youth festivals. This enabled him to pursue Commercial Arts. He had to give it up to teach theatre in order to gather funds for his father’s treatment. This is when he sharpened his ‘histrionics’, which led him to the auditions of The Great Indian Laughter Challenge. Not only did he make it to those but also emerged as the winner of the reality comedy television series.

He then went on to participate in a reality series on television which included Comedy Circus, Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, Chhote Miyan, Ustaadon Ka Ustaad and several others as both host and stand-up comedian. He stormed into the stand-up comedy scene on TV in its nascent stage.

It was now time to go big. He launched his own show Comedy Nights With Kapil in 2003 on Colors TV and became synonymous with Hindi stand-up comedy on the small screen. This money-spinner, a celebrity talk show and sketch comedy, in equal measure, clicked with the audience and lived up to its positioning as a show that could be watched with the family. It came as a disruption when saas-bahu sagas pervaded the television landscape. The show also became almost indispensable for celebrities as a publicity vehicle, with all of them vying for a piece of the prime time programming.

But it’s with this show that the lone wolf’s work family expanded. The show became the highest-rated non-fiction show on television because of its ensemble crop of comedians- namely, Sunil Grover, Ali Asgar and Kiku Sharda amongst others.

Despite teeming with characters that were played by men dressed as women, this show packed to the rafters with misogyny struck a chord with the audience. Sharma’s comedic timing was on point and the show’s milieu, relatable.

Such was his popularity by then that a film could ride on his shoulders. That’s when his film, Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon (2015) ensued. It emerged as a huge hit at the domestic box.

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