Television

This one’s the Gags Gang!

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MUMBAI: One – a gritty drama around the coal mafia of Dhanbad has nothing to do with the other – a laughter riot cooked up by television’s funnies.

We’re talking about Zee TV’s first-of-its-kind ‘variety’ comedy show titled Gangs of Hasseypur  which promises to tickle your funny bone and bears no resemblance whatsoever to its cerebral namesake – Anurag Kashyap’s critically acclaimed film, Gangs of Wasseypur.

As reported earlier by indiantelevision.com, Gangs of Hasseypur is slated for an April 26 premiere on Zee TV. So, at 8:00 pm every Saturday and Sunday, viewers will be treated to a mish-mash of hasya kavis making them laugh at everyday issues or stand-up comics unraveling the real faces behind the big names in cinema, sports and politics.

Be it the unending speculation over superstar Salman Khan’s bachelor (should we say virgin) status or something as everyday as rising prices, the show will see comedians like Raju Shrivastav and Suresh Menon leaving the audience in splits with their witty punches and comic timing. Actor-comic Bharti Singh will add her own brand of madness while divas Mandira Bedi and Tanishaa Mukherjee will step in as Hasseypur ki Haseenayein, upping the show’s glam quotient. Gorgeous and witty Ragini Khanna will host the show. Dabur Glucose-D will be the title sponsor.

Pankaj Saraswat of Laughter Challenge fame will helm this laugh-a-thon as creative director. He says that the show was conceptualized in just 15 days. With the shoot having begun not very long ago on April 14, four episodes have been canned already.

Asked if the jokes on issues ranging from inflation to the serial lack of trust in politicians will be taken in the right spirit, Saraswat says: “We are not attacking anyone personally. We are talking about things that are known to everyone. Everybody knows that Narendra Modi’s wife’s issue has come up suddenly. Everybody knows that Aam Aadmi Party chief got slapped. We don’t have any personal agenda and are not politically biased against anyone. It is more socio-political.”

Referring to a joke about “Neil Nitin Mukesh is menghai ke zamane me teen naam leke chal raha hai” in the show, Saraswat explains: “It is comedy; we are not making the show to hurt anyone’s sentiments. It is not below the belt. We have got a lot of different elements in the show. It is not just stand-up comedians coming, throwing jokes and going but it has got more meat to it like interactive sessions, panel discussions and much more.”

What was it like with the production team having been given just 15 days to put the show together? “We brainstormed on the idea internally and I gave Pankaj a call and threw a bomb saying let’s shoot in the next two weeks. He has his pool of comedians, he knows them, and he knows how to utilize their talents in the best way. And he did it and we would like to improve on what we have done and I am sure the audience is going to just love it,” answers Zee TV programming head, Namit Sharma.

Sharma was confident that the concept would be bang on in an election season in a country where there aren’t too many platforms to showcase comic talent. “If you look at the English comedy, they allow young talent to grow. We have not created enough platforms for comic talent to grow. So I am very keen to do that,” he says.

Going by industry sources, the show costs are anywhere between Rs 15 and Rs 20 lakh per episode.

A media expert opined that the channel has also got the slot timing right for this show. “The channel has made a safe move by not airing the show during a latter slot which has some of the best shows like Khatron Ke Khiladi, Mad In India and Comedy Nights with Kapil,” he says. “The show will get a  thumbs up as far as viewership is concerned, because people who are bored of watching daily soaps have an option to switch to Zee for the new content.”

Despite the competition, Sharma believes that good content always work on television. “There are so many daily soaps that work across channels despite competition. On the same slot many shows work sometimes, so why non-fiction should be treated any differently? People like laughing; then why not?” he says. “It is really difficult to shoot such shows and I am nervous as hell about audience reaction. However, we are trying and we hope it works.”

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