Comic act

Comedy is the new buzzword for serious filmmakers, says Ritika Kumar

WhATís common between Shyam Benegal, Madhur Bhandarkar, Ram Gopal Varma and Raj Kumar Santoshi? These are the filmmakers, who have found their niche in making realistic, hard-hitting cinema but have now taken a fancy to the genre of comedy in Bollywood.

Raj Kumar Santoshiís Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani was one of the biggest grossers of 2009
Raj Kumar Santoshiís Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani was one of the biggest grossers of 2009

A still from Shyam Benegalís Well Done Abba
A still from Shyam Benegalís Well Done Abba

Bhandarkar, known for films like Chandni Bar, Page 3 and Corporate is all set to helm his first romantic comedy, Dil to Bachcha Hai Ji and has signed up an unusual star cast in Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi and Omi Vaidya of 3 Idiots fame.

The filmmaker, who is inspired by film legend Hrishikesh Mukherjee, says, "I know I have been known for making hard hitting, real and controversial films. But I always wanted to make a light film like Dil to Bachcha Hai Ji as well."

Another filmmaker who is taking up the genre, is Ram Gopal Varma. After finishing his ambitious project Rakta Charitra, a biopic on political leader Paritala Ravi starring Vivek Oberoi, the director is looking forward to make a situational comedy, his first.

Varma, whose films range from underworld gang warfare, politician-criminal nexus, psychological thrillers and horror, promises the film will bring forth his funny side.

The script is ready and he will start casting after finishing Rakta Charitra.

Veteran moviemaker Shyam Benegal, one of the pioneers of New Wave Cinema in the 1970s and early 1980s, feels that comedy, especially satire, is what comes naturally to him now.

"I think I have mellowed down with age. I now see the irony in serious issues which I have tried to portray in Well Done Abba and Welcome to Sajjanpur and audience have connected to them," Benegal said.

Raj Kumar Santoshi, who started his career with Sunny Deolís Ghayal in 1990, forayed into comedy and gave the cult hit Andaz Apna Apna, starring Salman Khan and Aamir Khan, in 1994.

Later, he went on to make dramatic and serious films like Ghatak, Pukar, Lajja, The Legend of Bhagat Singh and Halla Bol.

But after a gap 15 years the filmmaker came back with a comedy Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, one of the biggest grossers of 2009.

After the success of Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif-starrer, Santoshi is reportedly planning to make another comedy where he is set to explore a more subtle type of the genre that has not been seen in Indian cinema so far.

Another critically acclaimed director who is set to tickle the funny bone is Sudhir Mishra.

And the maker has brought a rather unusual couple Chitrangada Singh and Irrfan Khan in his upcoming romantic comedy Sali Zindagi.

Shot in Delhi, the film is "an exciting, funny take on love. Itís a romantic film in the guise of a thriller," according to the filmmaker who has hugely contributed to Indian offbeat cinema from Yeh Woh Manzil To Nahin in 1987 to the recent ones like Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi and Khoya Khoya Chand.

Filmmaker Karan Johar, known for family dramas Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and My Name is Khan is also itching to direct a comedy.

Meanwhile as a producer, he is putting his money on comedies like Dostana and next in the line is Imran Khan and Sonam Kapoor-starrer I Hate Luv Storys and Koochie Kocchie Hota Hai, a animated rip-off of Joharís tear-jerker Kuch Kuch Hota Hai directed by Tarun Mansukhani. ó PTI