Television and film personality Jayant Kripalani’s silver-grey hair is striking and so is his unmistakable sense of humour. But the moment you discuss comedy shows with the “Ji Mantriji” actor, he dismisses them all, saying they are purveying jokes and not humour.
“There is no humour left. It is all about telling new jokes and telling jokes is not humour. A joke is a joke and humour is something that comes from a slice of life,” Kripalani told IANS in an interview.
“On a show you have three anchors who start laughing before you tell jokes and continue laughing till you end the joke and then the best thing is in the content there is nothing to laugh about! That is bad comedy and humour is something different,” he added.
According to the Mumbai-based actor, whose theatre dates back to his growing-up days in Kolkata where his father ran a laundry, the innate capacity to make people laugh comes with the ability to first laugh at yourself.
“The last humorous person I saw whose humour was based on real life was (the late comedian) Jaspal Bhatti. He told stories that had humour. A person should first have an ability to laugh at himself and then put situations together in a funny way,” Kripalani said, adding films like “Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi” and “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron” were perfect examples of situational comedies.
Those who belong to the 1980s will instantly associate the actor with the popular ‘khich-khich’ proposition for Vicks Cough Drops (VCD) advertisement.
An English literature graduate, his stint with theatre was sheer serendipity and he then worked as a senior creative director in an advertising agency before calling it quits.
“There was no freedom to do what your position required you to do. I am someone who enjoys working independently,” he admitted.
This streak of independence is reflected in his novel “New Market Tales”, to promote which he was recently in the capital. The novel dwells on Kolkata’s British era 139-year-old New Market.
“New Market was a cradle for me. The place where I grew up and ate. All the characters in this novel are people I know, they were always there in my memory. It was an obvious choice to write about it,” he elaborated.
New Market is the thread and all stories are woven around it. In simple language and with detailed description of the characters, Kripalani creates a visual imagery of settings, an art he says he inherited from his mother and sister.
“They would always tell me less is more,” he recollected.
One of the stories in the novel is of Sati G, a woman who runs a shady “Zack’s” pub in the market and of a 16-year-old boy who falls in love with her.
Ask Kripalani who the young boy is and a mischievous spark flits through his eyes.
“Sati G is real. She did have a shady nightclub and the boy who falls in love with her is me. I am not denying that. The first four pages are true but after that there is fabrication,” he said.
“I have so many stories from this market, so much nostalgia that I can write many such stories all my life, and it will be pretty effortless,” he added.