Kahan se miley tumhe nakli se actor
Kahan se laya ye flop director
Kaahey ko kiya tuney serial ka halwa
Prime time ka tuney kiya hai malwa
Gup-chup tamasha dekhe, waah re teri chaturayi
Kaahey ko comedy banaayi tuney, aahey ko comedy banaayi
These were the words of the parody song in the episode of ‘Kabristan ka chowkidar‘ which was one of the episodes of Flop Show. This one parody sums up the efforts of the motley crew, ably handled by Jaspal Bhatti, to capture the society and the ills of the bureaucracy. The above episode was on making of a tv series. Towards the end of the episode, a body equivalent to ITA, awards Jaspal Bhatti for ‘Best Comedy’ and Bhatti saheb, in his typical sarcastic tone says ‘Humne to tragedy banayi thi !’
A tragedy played on the tv screens and we laughed ourselves silly because every incident was slice of life. Our interactions with government officials, our struggle to get a telephone connection, our hassles with the builder/contractor, our long wait for a chief guest to cut a ribbon, our inability to push medical bills lying at the boss’ table, our attempt at working for a PhD, and so many such incidents depicted in the serial are straight out of our lives. We can identify with these issues even today. And that’s one of the reasons why Flop Show has stood the test of time as it still strikes a chord with the common man.
His cast was usually remained the same; the reliable Vivek Shauq and his wife Savita featured in most of the episodes. Another highlight of Flop Show was the credit rolls. Misdirection, Production Damager, Camera Jerks etc. It was like, they were making fun of themselves while still addressing serious issues. And he had the uncanny wit to call the series Flop Show.
In just 10 episodes, he tried his best to throw light on civil society and the babudom. Week after week, the satire played on as he took up one issue at a time. In one of the episodes on the difficulty of obtaining a new landline phone connection, he showed the benefits of having a lines-man as a damaad [son-in-law]. In an era where common man had to wait for 6 months to get a telephone connection, a damaad in telecom could benefit the entire family. While in another episode he showed the nexus between builder and neta; how a bad quality of construction ends up as a reward to the builder when a resident of the house was trying to drive a nail into the wall and the entire wall fell on a small time thief and he was nabbed, is just hilarious.
His parody songs in Flop Show were just superb. ‘Jis gali mei kirayedar se jhagda na ho, uss gali mei hume ghar lena nahi‘, in the episode where tenants take ownership of house and drive out the real owners. Then ‘Bill da mamla hai‘, parodied on Gurdas Mann’s song was used in the episode where Bhatti gets his friend’s treatment done on his office expense at ‘Hit & Trial’ hospital.
His late foray into films was also a welcome move. But barring a few performances, like in Aa Ab Laut Chalen, he wasn’t utilized well. Maybe, he wasn’t used to being directed by others or probably didn’t like the limitations of doing cameo roles. That’s the reason he kept going back to making movies for his own production house. Although he did a couple of more tv shows like ‘Thank you Jijaji’ and ‘Full Tension’, but none of them could match the wit or content of ‘Flop Show’. Flop Show became his identity.
Bhatti was also known for organising events that would make fun of government policies and decisions. He would create fake political parties with hilarious names like ‘Hawala Party’ and ‘Suitcase Party’ during elections, and poke fun at the political class. His sense of humor and the deep satire was appreciable. Without trying to be over-the-top, he would convey the message in a sly manner.
The rip-roaring laughter that Bhatti generated was infectious. Bhatti was not just a satirist, but a good observer of the way things function. His work in Ulta Pulta and Flop Show are basically social commentaries. And he continued this even on his twitter account.
His sudden death has shocked one and all. It was really premature, as he was just 57. And what’s worse is that, he isn’t around to see the release of his latest movie ‘Power Cut‘ which he was busy promoting for past few months. He still had a lot of laughs left in him, but we shall never hear it.
Last year it was shagird Vivek Shauq, and this year guru Bhatti has joined him. On the brighter side, heaven will now be a funny place and he can spoof Chitragupt and Yamraj. Please don’t shed tears for him, that would only be hurting his spirit. Spread smile and cheer, and he will continue to live-on. Thanks Bhatti ji for all the laughs you provided us. R.I.P.
Also published on MadAboutMoviez