Kapil Sharma's next: Star or Sony?

By Shweta Mulki , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | January 22, 2016
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Or a third network altogether? Over the past few weeks, the industry has been abuzz with discussion around hit TV show Comedy Nights With Kapil going off Colors, and Sharma's next big move.

There has been a lot of chatter among television viewers about Colors' Comedy Nights with Kapil (CNWK), the sketch-based show, going off air. A good deal of the speculation has been centred on host Sharma's next move as well as on the show that will replace CNWK. The latter's final episode was scheduled to air on January 17, but instead viewers were shown an episode of the channel's other comedy-based show Comedy Nights Bachao, in some sort of a tacit affirmation that hit CNWK show had indeed seen its curtains down.

Comedy Nights With Kapil

For those who aren't familiar with Comedy Nights with Kapil, here's a ready reckoner :

Comedy Nights with Kapil, the country's highest-rated non-fiction television show, and hosted by Sharma, is a sketch comedy and celebrity talk show, that premiered on Colors on June 22, 2013.

It completed 193 episodes on January 10 this year (with episode 194 being the final yet-to-be-aired one). The show has also been shot with live audiences in Dubai and Canada.

Comedy Nights With Kapil

Most of the country's popular movie stars, both contemporary as well as old, have appeared on CNWK, which has been primarily used as a platform to promote new releases. Many sporting icons have also been part of the guest list.

The regulars at CNWK: The show has a popular support cast, all household names due to the characters they play. These are Sunil Grover who plays Gutthi, Kiku Sharda who plays Palak, Ali Asgar who plays Dadi, Upasana Singh as 'bua', Sumona Chakravarti who plays Sharma's wife and well-known cricketer and ex-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, who is the 'chief audience member' and resident 'laugh track' on the show. Some of them essay other roles in the show, alternatively, though it must be mentioned here that Grover's Gutthi has earned him accolades from audiences and peers alike.

A team of 25-30 people form the creative team work on the show, which is produced by Sharma's production house K9 Productions.

In the beginning of 2015, the show moved from airing twice a week (Saturday and Sunday) to once a week (only on Sundays), reportedly to accomodate Sharma's budding movie career and schedule.

CNWK has many a times been accused of being regressive and perpetuating gender discrimination, as well as of its gags getting repetitive, but Sharma's popularity continued to rise to stratospheric heights.

The ascent of Kapil Sharma

Sharma initially gained recognition as a regular on Comedy Circus, a show on Sony Entertainment Channel, and was later roped in by Manisha Sharma, currently Colors' programming head, to host CNWK in 2013. His growth as a TV personality has been exceptional and towards the show's peak, he was reportedly being paid over Rs one crore per episode. He is also a favourite among award show organisers, and his most recent appearance was at the Filmfare Awards, which he co-hosted with actor Shahrukh Khan. His brand endorsement portfolio is ever-increasing, and is quite a common face in TVCs today, having appeared in various commercials for brands including OLX, Honda, Policybazaar.com, and his most recent one - TVS Tyres.


Honda TVC

Policybazaar.com TVC


In 2013, Sharma was ranked 94 on Forbes India's Celebrity 100 List, and in 2014 his ranking jumped up to 33. In 2015, he rose up to the No. 27 spot, and was the only TV personality on the list. For the same year his earnings were pegged at Rs 15 crore.

The last few weeks @ Comedy Nights with Kapil

Some industry watchers speculate that the widely reported rift between Sharma and Colors was regarding money, with some media reports suggesting that Sharma had 'issues' with Comedy Nights Bachao -- the other weekend comedy show launched by the channel for Saturdays. His reported grouse was with the fact that this new show also had star visits in its format and was being given preferential treatment in terms of promotions and visibility. CNWK has been the highest earning non-fiction shows in the Hindi genre, with earlier media reports pegging the ad rate for the show, when it began, at Rs 70,000-Rs 90,000 and in recent times at around Rs 2-2.5 lakh for a 10-second slot.

When there were reports that the show was confirmed to go off air, Sharma's fans took to social media to vent their disappointment.

Also, just before the still un-aired final episode of CNWK that had actor Akshay Kumar promoting his movie Airlift was scheduled to be telecast, viewers again voiced their expectations.

Kapil Sharma too had tweeted on January 17 - the day of the expected finale:

There are speculations currently that Sharma has offers from the both Star and Sony networks. A producer from K9 productions says that there is no clarity right now in what Sharma's next destination would be.

Colors on the other hand, sources say, may replace the CNWK slot with a new offering simply called Comedy Nights without any single face attached to it, and it could have celebrity hosts on rotation every episode.

While Grover, Sharda and Asgar are rumoured to have been roped in by Kapil for his next unannounced venture, sources hint that Sidhu and Singh may stay on with Colors and its new show.

As for the finale of CNWK, there have also been unauthorised leaked video clips showing the members of the cast bidding a tearful farewell, and there are reports that the episode will air on Sunday January 24, 2016.

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