Tracing the journey of Kapil Sharma, from The Great Indian Laughter Challenge to The Great Indian Kapil Show


Kapil Sharma is back with The Great Indian Kapil Show. He is joined by Sunil Grover, Krushna Abhishek, Archana Puran Singh, Kiku Sharda, and Rajiv Thakur, and if the promos are any indication, it promises to be a laugh riot. It starts streaming on Netflix India today from March 30. Ahead of the premiere of the new show, let us take a look at Kapil Sharma’s journey so far. (Also read: The Great Indian Kapil Show: Ranbir Kapoor admits he gifted mom Neetu Kapoor’s jewellery to his girlfriends. Watch)

Indian stand-up comedians Kapil Sharma is back with The Great Indian Kapil Show which will premiere on Netflix. (Photo by Sujit JAISWAL / AFP)(AFP)

Early years

Based in Amritsar, Kapil was born on April 2, 1981. As a kid, he was never shy, revealed his mother Janak Rani in an interview with Hindustan Times in 2014. “Even at a very small age, Tony barely knew shyness. At the age of four, he would get on the stage, grab a microphone to sing, crack jokes at the weddings of relatives. At the same time, he was good in studies and was everyone’s favourite. He would entertain people with his jokes,” she said. Kapil’s father worked with Punjab police passed away in 2004 after struggling with cancer for many years.

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The Great Indian Laughter Challenge

Kapil was rejected in the audition round of The Great Indian Laughter Challenge in Amritsar but got selected when he made his way to the Delhi round. What was next? He emerged as the winner of the show in 2007. Kapil took home 10 lakh as the prize money and went ahead to pay for his sister’s engagement ceremony with it.

“I came to Mumbai in April and as luck would have it, I became the winner of Laughter Challenge winning 10 lakh. I called my sister at night, post the show and said, ‘Buy your ring.’ I then started doing shows and made 30 lakh. That was good enough to get her married,” he said in the interview.

That was just the beginning, as Kapil went on to participate in Comedy Circus and emerged as the winner. This led to his own show, Comedy Nights with Kapil, in which he invited several stars from Bollywood as guests. This is also where he began his association with Sunil Grover, who played the role of ‘Gutthi’ in the episodes. The show made Kapil an overnight sensation. Laughter was guaranteed.

On success

Kapil said how this popularity is a result of 15 years of hard work. “The success of the show wasn’t overnight. I honed my skills, and got enough experience to know what would work. My show is popular, as we don’t have below-the-belt humour, which is the easiest thing to do. People trust us to have clean jokes that a family audience would enjoy without causing embarrassment. The audience relates to our jokes, and my team works really hard to deliver quality content every week,” he told Hindustan Times in a 2015 interview.

But did you know that Kapil had initially wanted to become a singer. When he got his first film with Abbas Mustan’s Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon, the actor-comedian collaborated with music director Dr Zeus for recording a song Bolle bam bam. “I had set out to become a singer, so this song has a different meaning for me. The trend of singer-actors is prevalent now. This is a dream come true for me. For years, people will remember that I sang a song,” he had said in an interview with HT.

The Kapil Sharma Show

His new show, The Kapil Sharma Show, started airing on Sony TV and was a huge success. From Ranbir Kapoor to Priyanka Chopra, Alia Bhatt to Katrina Kaif, you name the stars, and they were there on the show. It became the go-to destination for film promotions, and Kapil’s star shone brighter than ever. He also starred in Firangi (2017), but did not meet much success at the box office.

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Then came his first ever Netflix comedy special, Kapil Sharma: I’m Not Done Yet, in 2022. He talked about having suicidal thoughts in 2017 in the show, and treated it with sensitivity and care.

His role in Nandita Das’ Zwigato was, in many ways, a complete departure from his stardom and image as the funny man on TV. In the film, Kapil played a food delivery agent, who takes up this new job after losing his position as floor in-charge at a factory. The Hindustan Times review praised Kapil’s performance as a food delivery guy. It read: “Sharma, as Manas, is as earnest and convincing as it gets. It’s a chameleon-like transformation in terms of his body language, demeanour and especially his dialogue delivery without any of his usual Punjabi touch. Full marks to Sharma for getting that right.”

The Great Indian Kapil Show

With The Great Indian Kapil Show, the actor-comedian is, in many ways, returning to his roots, albeit for the Netflix India audience. Would it mean there will be a change in his comedy, from the relatability of middle class-humour to a slightly affluent tone? Only time will tell. But for now, we are eager to see the laughs and the one-line punches Kapil pulls off with the eclectic mix of guests, which include members of the Kapoor family (Ranbir, Riddhima and Neetu), filmmaker Imtiaz Ali, actor-singers Diljit Dosanjh and Parineeti Chopra, actor Aamir Khan, Indian cricket team captain Rohit Sharma, and batsman Shreyas Iyer.

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