I know you will snigger at this letter. You will probably tell your hangers-on, chamchas and yes-men that I am jealous of your success. And never mind that I’m not a stand-up comedian and I do not aspire to make the world laugh with me.
Once upon a time, not too long ago in Laugh Laugh Land, you ruled supreme. You still do, I guess, though I’ve stopped watching your show, and many like me have stopped, too. In your journey to comic nirvana, you somewhere lost your sense of equilibrium. I saw it happen. I saw the change. Almost like a physical transformation of a beast from domestic to predatory.
Something seriously went wrong in your journey to superstardom. When we first interacted, your show Comedy Nights With Kapil had just begun its meteoric rise. One day, I got a call from your childhood friend (I wonder if he is still your friend) and he introduced us.
Kapil, you were simple, down-to-earth, unaffected by your sudden if belated success. And when I told you that I had begun to watch television again after years just to see your show, you seemed genuinely happy. That’s how our all-too-brief camaraderie started.
Kapil, you won my heart when you told me it was your ambition to bring Lataji on the show. I realised we both worshipped the Goddess Of All Melodious Things. It bonded us even better. Your calls would come at the oddest hours… at five in the morning… when you were returning after an exhausting night of recording an episode of Comedy Nights With Kapil (CNWK). I loved the warmth in your voice, your sincere attempts to reach out, to remain as close to your Amritsar roots as possible.
When you had differences with your television channel over Comedy Nights With Kapil, you would tell me how you stood your ground with the bosses – and let them know your worth. I loved that. We small-towners hate to be treated as walk-all-overs.
Then suddenly the calls stopped. I thought you were busy. Weeks passed, then months. I messaged your friend to ask about you.
Meanwhile, stories of your highhandedness began to go around and had seeped in all the way to Yash Raj Films. I heard they had offered you a film called Bank Chor, which you accepted and then declined because you were too busy doing your TV show. But you also insisted that the channel cut Comedy Nights With Kapil from twice every weekend to once. Your greed to accommodate more on your plate than you could digest, ended up offending everyone at your workplace.
One morning I got a call from you and I was much relieved. Not suspecting what was coming, I asked you where you had been for nearly six months.
Your answer left me confounded.
“Iss baar toh six months mein phone kiya agli baar six years mein phone karunga,” you said in a cold curt voice.
The change of tone was so abrupt and so contrary the kinship you have built with me that I thought you were joking. I laughed. I got no return laughter from you. All I heard was an icy coldness, that sent a chill up my spine – not for myself but for you. I knew that you had begun to change beyond recognition.
I warned you for your own sake. But the descent into megalomania was unstoppable. Your colleagues told me about your drinking problems and how rude you had become. When your first film Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon was released, there were stories of how much you troubled the producer over the promotions.
I kept hearing of the change in you. It saddened me. Recently, I tried reaching out to you on email. Your arrogant response made me regret my reconciliatory gesture. But some hours later, I got another far more restrained and respectful response.
This confirmed my worst belief. A lot of your recent actions have reportedly been taken when you are not in your senses.
You must stop whatever you are doing before it destroys you. Your teammates are already upset with you. What will you do when those who laugh with you begin to laugh at you?
P.S. Lataji wants to know what has happened to you. I don’t know what to tell her.