Carry on laughing with Smeep Kang : The Tribune India

Carry on laughing with Smeep Kang

Despite detractors panning it, ‘Carry on Jatta 3’ has crossed the Rs 100-crore mark

Carry on laughing with Smeep Kang

Sonam Bajwa (standing) with (L-R) Gurpreet Ghuggi, Gippy Grewal and Binnu Dhillon.

Nonika Singh

“I AM the most insecure director.” Coming from Smeep Kang, whose latest offering in the superhit franchise ‘Carry on Jatta’ has hit the Rs 100-crore mark, the assertion may sound a bit modest. But humility and confidence go together for this director, who rarely fails to tickle our funny bone. As he savours box-office success, we grill him on whether it’s his responsibility to elevate the standards of Punjabi comedy, often dismissed as crass and lowbrow.

Smeep Kang

To all those who found certain parts of the film offensive, his unassuming refrain is: “I will be more careful next time.” While factoring in the censure, he is equally sure about his product that has passed the ultimate litmus test of box office. Indeed, what can be more heartening than a Punjabi film giving Bollywood biggies a run for money? Since ‘Carry on Jatta 3’ has worked like magic on the BO, it could open doors for more investment in Punjabi film industry and greater alchemy with Bollywood too. Smeep, who has made ‘Jhootha Kahin Ka’ with Rishi Kapoor and ‘Second Hand Husband’ with Gippy Grewal and Dharmendra, would love to crack the comic code in Hindi cinema once more, provided he gets the actors of his choice. And the ones he is eyeing are Vicky Kaushal and Kartik Aaryan, “both of whom possess perfect comic timing”.

Punjabi comedies might be frowned upon by some, but Smeep believes “comedies are serious business”, far more than putting together a serious film. “While watching a tragic scene, viewers might relate to it, but in a comedy, you can’t laugh thinking of a previous joke,” he says. In short, there has to be an instant connect. While his films are verbose and dialogue-driven, he tries to keep the momentum going and ensure there is no breathing space. “Even if the viewers are not laughing all the time, they should certainly be engrossed in the comic proceedings,” he adds.

In fact, when Smeep started making comedies, he was advised to keep the thread serious and introduce a comic track within the sombre subject. But he was determined to make an out and out comedy. “Comedy,” he shares, “is my comfort zone, home ground. I like making what I like watching.” As he reveals how Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s ‘Chupke Chupke’ is his all-time favourite, we once again try to catch him on the wrong foot. Wasn’t that a clean intelligent comedy, the likes Pollywood desperately needs? Smeep agrees, but adds, “There is a thin line between being naughty and being vulgar. I don’t think I cross the line, even if some people think otherwise.” For him, the ultimate raison d’etre behind crafting films is to make people laugh. In fact, ‘a hearty laugh’ is exactly what he believes viewers want too.

He feels that what makes the ‘Carry on Jatta’ franchise such a rage is its ever-loyal fan base. As for the Gippy-Smeep partnership, which works by the axiom ‘never change a winning combination’ and is as steadfast as the film’s roaring success, he says, “Why Gippy has not replaced me as a director is a question only he can answer. All I can say is he reposed confidence in me 11 years ago even though my first film, ‘Chak De Phatte’, had bombed. He does not interfere with the creative aspects and has no role to play in the casting, that incidentally includes his son Shinda Grewal.” All praise for his producer-actor, Smeep finds Gippy one of the most intelligent actors in Pollywood, who is constantly learning and relearning.

Another factor that has remained constant in all three outings is dialogue writer Naresh Kathooria. While he wrote the story and screenplay of the first part along with Smeep, in the sequel, writers Shreya Srivastava and Vaibhav Suman came on board. In ‘Carry on Jatta 3’, too, the writing team remained the same, with Naresh firing the volley of punch-lines as its dialogue writer as well. His pen drips with humour and ribaldry. Invariably, he brings the house down with classic one-liners like ‘Advocater Bhalla ne kaala coat aiven nahi paaya’ becoming a signature of the franchise.

While rejigging the formula third time over, how does Smeep know what to retain and what to omit? He reveals, “The first two parts were quite similar. But in the trequel, fatigue could have set in. I changed the plot, retained some characters, and introduced Nasir Chinyoti.”

While the Pakistani actor’s part as Sonam Bajwa’s maternal uncle hit more than a chord, why did the heroine herself get a short shrift in the film? He nods he is aware of the criticism. To counter it, a new franchise ‘Carry on Jatti’ could be in the offing. Who, what, when, the answers are as yet nebulous, but part four of ‘Carry on Jatta’ is certainly in the pipeline, not before 2026-27 though. While his critics might think that making a comedy is a whimsical overnight affair, he reasons, “What might appear nonsensical to you actually calls for a lot of sensible thinking.”

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