Comedian Amit Tandon has had his hands full this year, with his two shows, Sony LIV’s Chalo Koi Baat Nahin and Netflix’s Comedy Premium League, both of which hit the streaming platforms days within each other.
While Chalo Koi Baat Nahin’s premise was based on satirical sketches featuring other comedians such as Gursimran Khamba and Abhish Matthew, Comedy Premium League saw a battle for laughs between several stand-up comedians, including Kenny Sebastian, Mallika Dua, Sumukhi Suresh, Rahul Subramanium among others. In an interview, Amit Tandon speaks about his work, the evolution of the comedy scene in India and more.
Amit mentions that his recently-released show Chalo Koi Baat Nahin was ‘clean’, and something that can be watched with family. As there has been much debate and discussion on whether comedy in India is becoming a little to safe, he says, ‘A little of that has happened. I’ve never felt that because I’ve been doing comedy that is clean and can be watched by family. It was not by design, these are the things that bother me, so I talk about my wife, kids and parents. You have to go through one extra check of standards and procedures, on what is going out on the OTT platform. So you have to be a little more careful. Just take a little care. But the way we wrote Chalo Koi Baat Nahin, we didn’t face such challenges. The comedy scene in India has become a lucrative profession over the years, compared to the early days. Amit, who has been a stand-up comedian since 2009, talks about how it evolved from a fraternity to a fully-fledged industry. “I’ve been around since 2009. When we started, it was very much like club comedy and there was not much money. We didn’t join it for money. Slowly, it moved from being a fraternity to an industry as the money started flowing in.
He adds that it was a task to explain what stand up comedy was in the beginning, as it didn’t have an overarching reach. ‘Initially, it was very tough to explain what stand-up is, and it was was limited to the the elite of Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. Now it has reached every city in India. Today, there are shows happening in Kanpur and Jabalpur. Stand up comedy has grown a hundred, thousand times in the past few years, Amit Tandon says.
He adds, ‘Earlier, even to get five people in a room for an hour was tough. Now you look at 2016, Zakir fills up a 5000-seater stadium, back-to-back twice, 10,000 tickets in a show. So that’s the kind of a climb we have seen.
Speaking about Chalo Koi Baat Nahin, he says, ‘We tried to create a show that is relatable to people, a show that you can watch with your family. We wanted to do something that happened in 90’s, a satire show where we are not just looking at the system and saying there’s something wrong with it, but looking at ourselves,
and saying it with fun and comedy: It was his first experience as a writer and creator, Amit says. I have been a stand-up comedian before, for me, it’s the first show as a creator and a writer where somebody else has been acting upon what I have written. Khamba has done this initially. It was a challenge for how a sketch worked. I was clear on what I wanted to say, how I wanted to say, and structuring and all, he adds. The show featured cameos by other prominent comedians like Atul Khatri and Abhish Matthew. ‘Atul Khatri and Abhish Matthew did it as a friendly gesture and they didn’t take any money from us, he says.