People underestimate the power of stand-up comedy: Karan Johar

New Delhi (IANSlife) Bollywood director Karan Johar has donned a never seen avatar as he collaborates with stand-up comedian Zakir Khan and swap roles with him for an ad campaign.

In an interview with IANSlife, Karan says, “I think people actually underestimate the power of stand-up comedy and also the ability to do it.”

Read the full interview:

Q: How was your experience of swapping roles with Zakir?

A: The experience was great fun, me being Zakir, Zakir being me. I am a big fan of Zakir and I think that he is really hilarious. So, I think this kind of a switch was quite fun, it was a good surprise and I enjoyed it.

Q: Is there a particular trait in Zakir that you found interesting and therefore decided to swap with yours?

A: Zakir has a very straight-faced comic timing, I like the way that he is not theatrical in his comic timing. I think he is quite clear, clean and one tonal but in a very strong way. He connects with an audience because of his straight face. I watched a lot of his stuff, especially before shooting the commercial and I was very enthralled by his comic timings and how he projected himself to an audience.

Q: The idea of swapping personalities to bring out a surprise, looks interesting. How will this be executed by both of you? Did you have to study each other’s personalities for this activity?

A: Well, I did a fair amount of research as much as I could. I watched a lot of his videos. It is an interesting concept and we hope that the way it comes out actually enthralls and entertains the audience that is going to watch this commercial and this new concept. So, I anyway had watched a lot of Zakir’s videos earlier but right prior to the filming of the commercial, I watched a lot more of them and tried to study his mannerisms, basically because I am not a mimic myself and just wanted to catch some of the nuances.

Q: How do you think your fans and the audience will react when you swap your personality from the KJo we know to the ultimate sakht launda?

A: Well, I hope that they are entertained by the fact that we tried to do something novel and new. It’s the age actually of doing different things, even in the world of advertising. I think the creative team came up with a really ingenious concept of doing this swap. I hope everyone really enjoys it and appreciates the efforts behind the campaign.

Q: Usually, you’re the one behind the camera, directing the actors, here we find you front and centre — what was that like for you?

A: Well, being in front of the camera is not entirely new to me. I have faced the camera several times as a show host, as a reality show judge, so this was yet another vertical of that same feeling. Though of course facing the camera in the pandemic is a rare thing. Always exciting, it kind of makes you feel that you are back at work. So, it was fun, it was exciting and there was a young crew working on the campaign and everyone was giving it their all, so the energy was infectious.

Q: Have you ever tried stand-up comedy? Has this campaign inspired you to in any way?

A: I mean, I would like to believe that I am a kind of funny person. But I have never done stand up. I think people actually underestimate the power of stand-up comedy and also the ability to do it. Not everyone can crack a joke and say something funny. It’s not something like reading off the page. Because I know many people who have tried and failed. It’s like the ability to tell a story, not everyone can do it. Similarly, the ability to do stand-up is really an ability in itself. I know that I may not necessarily have that ability, I might be funny in a room but I may not be funny on stage. So, I have great respect for the great comics that we have in our country and even internationally and I am a big fan of watching comedy.

Q: What was the toughest part of swapping personalities for you?

A: I think the toughest part of swapping personalities was to get Zakir’s tone, tonality and syntax and I am hoping that he was equally challenged. It is not something that I have done before in a commercial or even something on screen. So, it was exciting and at least it was something new. And anything new is always a challenge. It is an unknown path to kind of walk on. So, that is what made it exciting and challenging.

Q: During your shoot, was there any one trait that you noticed could be similar between you and Zakir?

A: I don’t think there is anything in common between me and Zakir. And I say that with a lot of complement to him, I hope that he takes it in the right spirit, but I really don’t believe that we have anything in common. I tried really hard to think if there was one point of commonality, but no, I came up with nothing.

Q: Your first memory associated with Britannia Good Day?

A: I have many childhood memories associated with Britannia. It is a household brand and we have all consumed Britannia products as children, we have grown up on Britannia. My particularly recent memory with Good Day, well not actually memory but a fun fact is that in the film Good News, Diljeet actually throws a joke with Good Day in it. It was quite funny, he just said it ad hoc on the set that have a good day and he meant the biscuit of course. So, it was just something that we all laughed at when we watched. That is my most recent memory attached with Good Day.

Q: How do you see the audience reaction and acceptance change over the years in the film industry?

A: I think that the audience’s taste is constantly evolving. And challenging filmmakers, ad filmmakers, storytellers, digital filmmakers, at the same time. There is so much content being consumed in digital space that actually makes people pull up their creative socks. Similarly, in the world of advertising people are thinking of new and innovative ways to tell their stories and sell their products, and this was yet another innovation that I applaud and I hope that the audience will too.

Q: What’s next in the pipeline for you?

A: Well, there is lot at Dharma and Dharma that I would like to look forward to, post when things can hopefully open up and when there is light at the end of this deep dark tunnel. There is a lot of content waiting for both verticals of Dharma as in films and digital and we are very excited to tell new, unusual and unconventional stories.

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