In conversation with Sorabh Pant

Mumbai rains flexed its muscles with all might, submerging the city and its residents. During a rather gloomy evening, Sorabh Pant’s effervescent and vibrant interactive tone, coupled with his impressive intelligence and restrained aggression, infused a new lease of exuberance. Noted stand-up comedian cum digital content creator, Sorabh is badass witty and he has created a niche by being vocal about issues which concern every single citizen of this country.

And when this Pant is on Fire, it makes for one helluva watch. Founder of East India Comedy (now gone solo), youth icon, darling of trollers and of course a professional par excellence, Sorabh is an inspiration for those who dare to take the leap of faith and soar on wings of ambition.

IndianWikiMedia recently got into a candid chat with the talented man, and here are excerpts from the same: Read on…

To begin with, how does it feel to be so popular and a potent pertinent modern day voice…

(smiles) Well, I don’t really know how potent or pertinent I am, all I can say I have always talked about things which I find funny or interesting. Yes, due to Rant of the Pant and prior to that in EIC Outrage, previous to that The Bottomline and even prior to that News on The Loose, these news comedy properties which I have been working since 2007, have put me in a different light. It’s interesting when college goers tell me that they got to know about some XYZ issue after watching my show. It’s gratifying and the best part about being popular is that you can talk to random people, which is fun and you learn so much.

You started as a writer on TV…now you are a digital rage…tell us something about the entire transition…

I was a writer for TV but my biggest complain with Indian television is that there is still a severe lack of creativity, lot of copy cat business happens. I have not seen something really ‘wow worthy’ in recent times, but yes, Epic TV’s historic shows did impress me. I eventually got bored writing for Indian television. But yes, I did write for a show called The Great India Comedy Show, which was sketches with Ranvir Shorey, Vinay Pathak among others. The effort did not set the world on fire but we did become one of those who started sketch comedy. I also enjoyed writing for POGO, which was indeed fun.

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Talking about transition, Vir Das asked me to work on News on the Loose and I jumped into the opportunity and had a blast. Post that stand up comedy happened and here we are. In hindsight, I feel I did enjoy TV work in bits and parts and may be have grown cynical with age (smiles), but yes, I did have a transition and that was meant to be.

I too stay relatively neutral in my Rant of The Pant videos. I do believe in being open minded and discussing an issue. There is no conscious attempt to be fearless, but the idea is to do justice to the content

So you watch TV or ever fancy working for a fiction show…or may be write for Bigg Boss?

I am not saying no to working for a TV show at all, you never know where your life would take you and how the medium would evolve. But I am really excited by the content in the OTT universe and all other interesting web series which are really imaginative and engaging. So that’s what I am kicked about for that’s where true creativity is being seen. For a long time Indian television has not provided some great comedy content, and I am not one of those people who will scream from the rooftop abusing Kapil Sharma. I have always found him very funny. It is quite challenging to pull off so many episodes with a serious dearth of writers, and the pressure has led to the show where it is today.   I still find Kapil Sharma as a comedian very funny. And yes, Bigg Boss or reality shows are not my game. However, you never know what’s in store in future.

You are fearless in your video content…unlike many who like to stay neutral…is it a conscious decision to stay relevant, or something you believe in or a way to gain more views?

I too stay relatively neutral in my Rant of The Pant videos. I do believe in being open minded and discussing an issue. There is no conscious attempt to be fearless, but the idea is to do justice to the content. For example, I once recorded a video about drugs in India and I was told by people that I have to remove certain parts for legal reasons and ultimately I did not release it inspite of it being very funny. So, the core is to talk on relevant issues and get noticed because very few people actually deal with their fears and open up on such matters. The idea is to keep expressing what you believe in inspite of being trolled and bullied. Just keep at it.

You can use your regrets as motivation, don’t repeat similar mistakes. I feel I could have followed my instincts more in my career and now I am in a situation to do what I like more

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And talking about gaining eyeballs, well only two or three of my videos have really gone viral in terms of 6-7 million views and with Rant of The Pant I don’t expect the content to go viral as the issue is not something everyone is excited about vis a vis a papa-kid video on Facebook. Well, I don’t intend to degrade anyone’s effort for majority of digital audience is young, so such content is made. But I will keep taking up issues and talking about them and I have an audience for that. Once I did a funny Justin Bieber video to pep up Rant of the Pant viewership and I actually got hate mails as people could not relate to it. Chasing views is a bad idea and with sustained time the cumulative viewership of Rant of The Pant has hit over 17-18 million views. Idea is to always dole out good content and then viewership will follow.

Your current thoughts on Ram Rahim arrest and its aftermath…

I am actually writing a stand up on the entire Ram Rahim situation. It’s ironic how people start abusing comedians when they say stuff which are not as per their belief or sentiment, but people like MSG, Asaram have been promoted by national channels blatantly for years now and no one questions. They have grown so big because governments have failed the people by not being able to curb their negative reach and influence. It’s absurd.

You founded East India Comedy…got some of the best talent on board and then left…precise reason for the decision?

I still love all the boys at East India Company and we are still good friends. I left to chart my own path, wanted to do stuff which I believed in. Stand-up comedy has always been cathartic and I have always wanted to say things which I relate to. I thought it would have been unfair to give my personal career more precedence over that of the company’s. I founded and was part of East India Company for 5 years, and sometimes you just get an inner calling to move on. We will work and join forces together of course; it’s just that as lovers of comedians you can enjoy content on two different channels now. So, comedy is the winner.

Get into digital content if you are passionate about the craft, not to become an overnight success or a rockstar or being loved by the chicks. Do it for the art, the passion, not anything else

How do you see the digital content space evolving… and when can we see more variety?

As I said, every time I perform in a college show, which I love, I have not come across a single student who watches Indian television regularly. On & off they watch, say sports, or a youth reality show but no appointment viewing at all. They are all hooked to Youtube and Facebook and we have to note this trend. OTTs will certainly see a great success, and it’s a good thing as internet is the most democratic medium and people can choose what they want to watch. 2016 will be like the 90s…how TV revolutionized content consumption back then, OTT will do the same now.

Competition you admire…

The best thing about the Indian comedy industry is that it’s very small, there are some 40 professional comedians who are working hard to make the space more vibrant. Every time someone does a show abroad or anywhere in India, opportunities for others also increase. There are a couple of bad seeds, which is a case in any industry, but I don’t think we are competing in its real sense rather pushing each other to go up.

People you owe your success…

Everyone someone asks this question, I feel like I have won a Best Actor Award at Golden Globe or IIFA, so will not answer this precisely. People who matter know about it… family, friends and industry people. I am yet to achieve a certain degree of success to give a retirement speech, may be after 10 years.

Tell us something about your family life…

My family life is very interesting. Whenever I am not travelling, earlier I used to go drinking with friends but now I spend time with my family, my wife, kids, parents, sisters. My family is cool, funny, progressive and an important part of my life. As you grow up you realize the importance of a good balanced family life. I look forward to being with my loved ones.

In the competitive space how do you keep evolving…

Unless you change, you won’t grow. You keep moving and exploring. You evolve by being little ego less, I watch work of contemporaries and acknowledge good work. It’s all about helping each other and growing together.

I don’t think I have earned enough success. I am barely a percent of where I can be. I am pretty competitive in general and ambitious. I want to achieve more and continue to create content which will be engaging for people

You have earned so much adulation…what has been your success mantra?

I don’t think I have earned enough success. I am barely a percent of where I can be. I am pretty competitive in general and ambitious. I want to achieve more and continue to create content which will be engaging for people. So hope for the best.

Tips for digital content creator aspirants…

Know what, just go for it. It’s not too complicated, it’s not a brain surgery. Having said that, do it if you are passionate about the craft, not to become an overnight success or a rockstar or being loved by the chicks. Do it for the art, the passion, not anything else.

You have written a book as well…the Wednesday Soul…any more pen work in the pipeline?

Yes, Wednesday Soul I wrote and followed that up with Under Delhi which is a prequel to Wednesday Soul.  Wednesday Soul is a fantasy fiction of what happens when you die. Some have loved it, others have hated it. I have loved writing it. In November, I am coming up with my other novel called Pawan the Flying Accountant. It’s about a guy who is a superhuman who doesn’t want to fight for the country. It’s an interesting mix of mythology, fantasy, science fiction etc. So guys, I can write, do read my books. Go grab it.

Any regrets in life…

I don’t really have too many regrets, don’t have time for such thing. Know what, cancel it because anyone who says that is lying to you.  You can use your regrets as motivation, don’t repeat similar mistakes. I feel I could have followed my instincts more in my career and now I am in a situation to do what I like more. I can say no to things which I don’t relate to.

How do you unwind?

I like to travel and being a comedian helps as we get to meet new people and visit new places. My stand-up helps me unwind and if I am too stressed I spend time with my kids. They help you relax but then again you get stressed because you realize you have to pay for everything (smiles).

Talking about Rant of The Pant, it’s one of the best shows on digital…how did you conceive the idea?

Well, I wanted to talk about issues which are more relevant and matter to me. News comedy has been part of my life since 2007. Now, with experience I have evolved in the art and Rant of The Pant is something which is an extension of myself.

OTTs will certainly see a great success, and it’s a good thing as internet is the most democratic medium and people can choose what they want to watch. 2016 will be like the 90s…how TV revolutionized content consumption back then, OTT will do the same now

And you released Best Of Rant of the Pant 2017 …what can one expect?

It’s fun, it deals with relatable issues and audience is going to enjoy it. It’s essentially recorded at six different places talking about topics like beef ban, fairness cream being racist, noise pollution & religion among others. It’s some of my favourite bits and hope you all like it.

What next…future plans?

I have been in stand-up comedy space since 9 years now, that will continue. Furthermore, I will be coming with a new show on digital soon, and of course, I am also looking forward to my book launch in November. So, lots on the plate and yes, the idea is to earn enough money so that I can retire soon (smiles).

Check out The Best Of Rant of the Pant 2017 right here: ENJOY, LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE!!!

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