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Posted at: Jul 19, 2019, 9:14 AM; last updated: Jul 19, 2019, 9:14 AM (IST)

“A comedy film is not a collection of jokes', says Smeep Kang

Be prepared to hop on for another fun ride with Punjabi director Smeep Kang, who shares his reasons for making a Hindi film Jhootha Kahin Ka
“A comedy film is not a collection of jokes', says Smeep Kang
A still from the movie Jhootha Kahin Ka.

Nonika Singh

I am not a confident filmmaker,” strange words from  master of comedies, successful Punjabi director Smeep Kang, who gave us three consecutive Punjabi hits last year alone. However, as he is ready to bat on a different pitch (read Bollywood) once again, his is not a classic case of ‘once bitten twice shy.’ Despite the failure of his maiden Hindi film Second Hand Husband, he has had no apprehension in making his second foray.  

As his Hindi directorial signature Jhootha Kahin Ka is all set to hit screens today, we wonder what is the irresistible lure of Bollywood? He puts it simply in two words; “Rishi Kapoor.” You bet he is an avid fan of the versatile actor and when the opportunity to direct him presented itself, it was a fan moment he dare not let go. Nor was he going to let the failure of debut in Hindi cinema bog him down. 

Serious thought

You win some, you lose some... says he, who we think cracked the comedy code back in time when he gave us cult Punjabi comedy Carry on Jatta.  But seriously, he adds, “There is no way to know what will work on the big screen and what will fail miserably.” One thing he understands is that if people on the sets don’t burst out laughing while canning the scene, the chances are audiences won’t either.  

Comedy, sure, is Kang’s forte. No wonder he is piqued when the genre is not taken seriously. He rues, “While critics are invariably soft on issue-based films, howsoever incompetent, comedies, even well made, invariably are judged harshly.”  To those dismissive of comedies, he reminds, “A comedy is not a collection/compilation of jokes. It has to have a storyline, must engage the viewers who must stay invested both in the characters and the script.”  Jhootha Kahin Ka, he promises, is a script-driven situational comedy, deriving its humour from dialogues. Rest assured it is not a, “no brainer. “Were it so, Rishi wouldn’t be on board.”

Two hours of fun

Indeed, the flavour of Punjabi humour is distinctively inimitable. So, viewers should not expect a movie in the Carry on Jatta mould or re-creation of Bollywood’s famed comedy of errors Chupke Chupke, his personal favourite. “All they should seek is two hours of fun.” Between Bollywood and Pollywood the defining differences according to him are several.  Apart from the Hindi film industry being more professional and Punjabi more friendly, he asserts, “When you approach the actors for a Punjabi film, their first question/concern is about money. But in Bollywood they want to read the script first and that is why there is greater emphasis on content.” 

But having said that, his first love always would be Punjabi cinema, which, he insists, has come a long way since he made his debut in 2008 with Chak De Phatte. “Both its base and reach have widened. Imagine when Carry on Jatta released in 2012, the first day opening of Rs 66 lakh was considered bumper.  In 2018, its sequel collected three-and-a-half crores on the first day.” 

Monotony factor

Add to it the fact that Punjabi cinema is no longer about tickling the funny bone alone and he couldn’t be happier.  “When a serious film like Qismat does well I am truly heartened.” Less competition for him?  “Not exactly. When there is a barrage of comedies with the same set of actors, since we have only limited number who excels in comedy, monotony sets in. This is an un-businesslike situation, which would inevitably turn audiences away.” But nothing could separate him from his favourite turf; laugh riot!

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