IWMBuzz.com reviews Sony TV's Family Time With Kapil Sharma. 

Review of Sony TV’s Family Time With Kapil Sharma: Old Wine in a New Bottle

Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful. -John Wooden

Normally, we don’t like beginning with quotes. Never did. But, we’ve made an exception for this one. Take our divergence as our ode to the immense talent of this well-loved public figure. And since this quote amply sums up his public life, or spectacle, if we may, we thought it apt to use it here.

You do know who we’re talking about; the name’s Kapil, Kapil Sharma- the impish, baby-faced, King of comedy; the poster child of the Indian comedy scene; sadly, also the ‘enfant terrible’ of the entertainment world.

After a disgraceful exit from the limelight, and having been incommunicado for six months almost, the man’s made a hesitant comeback, with ‘Family Time With Kapil Sharma’, the new show on Sony TV.

Once upon a time, The Kapil Sharma Show had been at the peak of success. And then disaster struck, in the form of an ugly, mid-air brawl between the show’s leading lights- Kapil and Sunil Grover. Apparently, a drunken Kapil had man-handled and abused Sunil Grover mid-flight, while returning from a show abroad. The incident did not go down too well with his other colleagues on the show. Led by Grover himself, there was a mass exodus of popular characters from the show. The spectacular walk-out quickly turned into a free-for- all, with all and sundry commenting that Kapil had become too big for his boots. Soon after, there were reports about Kapil suffering from panic attacks and nervous breakdowns, his battle with alcoholism, and his playing truant on the show. The entire unfortunate episode had a cascading effect, leading to curtains for The Kapil Sharma Show.

And now, he’s back! Still impish, but more grown, with a double chin and pronounced paunch. Almost six months after Kapil’s eponymous, ‘The Kapil Sharma Show’, had been yanked off by Sony TV, without so much as a by your leave, the channel has resurrected the beleaguered comedian, with the brand new show, ‘Family Time With Kapil Sharma’. So, the question on everybody’s lips is this- will Sharma be able to rise, phoenix-like, from the ashes of ignominy, to rule Indian TV once again?

The jury’s still out on this one. As for us at IWMBuzz.com, reviews are our forte, and review this show, we will! At the outset, let us tell you that the show isn’t too bad, per se. But, it is nothing to write home about, either. The jokes are pedestrian; the setting, ordinary. The premise of the show is pretty run-of-the- mill. It is a game show plus a celeb chat show, all rolled into one unimaginative package.

Kapil hosts the show– obviously, d-uh! He’s the star of the show, and holds centre-stage. Then there’s Kiku Sharda, again in drag, and Chandan Prabhakar, again a poor chaiwala, coming and going, in-between the many game segments. Both are passable, though a bit jaded. The show could’ve done with some imagination there, but, perhaps, they just wanted to milk the tried-and- tested success formula of the old Kapil show.

Neha Pendse is Kapil’s co-host in this one. While she makes the right moves and looks glam enough, what’s missing is that crucial oomph factor. She simply lacks the verve and vivacity of Sumona Chakravorty. Another thing that rankles is the tiny repertoire of lines given to her. The lady just stands there like a bimbo, taking Kiku Sharda’s crass insults, Kapil’s incessant flirting and Chandan’s cringe-worthy chit-chat, with nary a thing to say! For heaven’s sake, give her some lines, guys! A few smart comebacks, a few charming witticisms, something, anything!

There’s also the omnipresent Sidhu Paaji; yes, he makes an appearance here too, doing the things he always does- mouthing inane shayaris, laughing at the antics on stage and watching, patriarch-like, over the proceedings.

The aim of the show is to bring families closer together, in today’s tech-driven world, by means of games. Games? Did someone say games? If games are the centre-piece of the show, then w expect it to be more interesting and inspiring. In the midst of all the melee, Kapil Sharma doles out gifts and prizes like he’s Santa Claus; and the contestants lap it all up with glee.

Coming to which, since Kapil is the star of the show, and the entire premise of the show revolves around Kapil the funny-man, here’s our verdict on the man himself. And it has to be said, even if some may not like it- this Kapil is a pale shadow, a caricature almost, of the Kapil we all knew and loved.

Gone is the self-assured star-with- a-swagger, the one who could slay with his sharp-as- a-sabre words. In his place is a hesitant, uncertain man, still fighting to come to terms with his stress management issues and panic attacks. Yes, you can see it all too clearly- in his eyes, his half smiles, his unsure words, his half-hearted jokes. And also in the way he clutches at a yellow squeezy ball for support– exactly the way a drowning man clutches at a straw.

Yes, this was something that caught our eye- for almost 40 minutes of the 48 minutes total run-time of the third episode, Kapil Sharma held the squeezy ball in his hand, without ever letting go. Isn’t squeezing a squeezy ball an accepted stress-management approach? So, was it that, or are we reading too much into his actions?

That he’s stressed is obvious. Stress surrounds him like an unshakeable aura, something that can be clearly made out in all the three episodes aired until now. Kapil looks broken, shattered beyond repair, waiting for providence to redeem him. He looks like a little lost boy who’s had his candy taken away from him. And at that moment, when he looks the way he does, our heart goes out to the genius, gone awry.

That he’s struggling is all too clear– struggling to rekindle the same old spark, the razor-sharp humour, the easy connect with the audience. That he’s failing at it is also all too clear. The spark has fizzled out; the humour is tepid; the connect with the audience is missing. And the reason for this is none but the man at the centre of it all. He seems to be haunted by the backlash of the past.

It’s not that the show is badly written. And going by the reactions, it is obvious that the audience still loves him. He’s in his element when he indulges in his trademark, self-deprecating humour. The lines, where Kapil and his comrades-in- arms take digs at his misdemeanours and six-month absence, are really funny. If he could just exorcise the ghosts of the past, he would soon be the darling of the masses again.

There’s no arguing the fact that his is a rare talent- the ability to make people laugh is a talent to be cherished, because so few are blessed with it. Kapil has huge shoes to fill in- his own. The faster he snaps out of the past, the better for him. The show has opened to great ratings. It is just a matter of time when Kapil regains his mojo and propels himself to being Numero Uno of the entertainment world again!

We, at IWMBuzz, will not rate the show yet…for Kapil has fast grown the stature. All we would want is freshness and novelty.

Wish him well.

(Written By Rashmi Paharia)

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