“Hello Kon, Paichan Kon,” is all that it takes to recognise this talented Indian stand-up comedian, voice over artist and actor Navin Prabhakar.
From the distinction of having performed even on the Eiffel Tower, Navin Prabhakar is now all set to explore his other creative talents including direction and script writing.
For the uninitiated, Prabhakar’s first stand-up comedy show ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’ (2005) earned him accolades and was a catalyst for his early success in the industry..
In a candid conversation, he speaks to Pune365 on making it big in the industry and his future aspirations.
“Comedy is my first love. I have been doing it since my college days. Before performing in the laughter challenge, I had performed in various countries across the globe.
Even before these 13 years in the industry, I was already performing at shows and I didn’t even realise when my hobby became my profession.”
Reminiscing his days when he became a household name after his popular ‘Pehchaan Kon’ stand-up, he says, “We didn’t realise when the show went viral.
The next day I received more than 300 calls from fans, organisers, directors and well-wishers. In just one night, everyone wanted me to perform at their events.
“I cannot forget how overwhelming those days were.
while writing the gig, I never ever imagined that this would change my life.”
He further shares his inspiration behind his performance. “I often prepare the gigs relating to the current hot topics in the society that connect to the audience and amuse them too.
In those days, bars were shut down in Bombay and nearly seventy thousand female dancers have lost their jobs. This incident was much debated then and hence I thought of coming out with this gig. Even female viewers appreciated the performances, and the rest is history.”
Swearing by the words of American comedian W. C. Fields that ‘Comedy is a serious business…’, he says, “There is a lot of effort that is put into preparing an act.
Right from keeping in mind the age group, IQ level, education level, type of crowd, all these things must be closely studied to relate to the crowd and then make them laugh.
“Moreover, you must like your own performance even before your audience does, so much that it instantly keeps your connected.
“But I still feel nervous while performing. To overcome this, I do a lot of research and background study so that I am well versed and can handle everything with ease.
Everyday is a gamble and we need to play along.
“In my early days, it was difficult to convince people that comedy can be good enough to earn a living. Even in my house, we didn’t have this culture. There was always a reservation when it came to television and media.
Even my father came to know that I was performing comic gigs in front of people after three years when an acquaintance complemented me in front of him.
I never had the courage to tell my father that I was earning a living by performing at shows.”
Speaking about people he derives inspiration from, he says, “Johnny Lever is my God father in India and Sean E.Cooper and George Edward Lopez are others who inspire me.
I would also like to play the role of Johnny Lever if his biopic is ever made.
“Whatever roles I have played in my earlier movies have been well appreciated. Currently I am looking for newer genres of projects from those I have done earlier.
I am now working on some projects that are inspired by real life characters and situations and this is the kind of work I prefer doing.”
“Fortunately more people are coming in and making comedy their career choice. But then to be different from the crowd, one must struggle and be consistent.
“Every time I come up with refreshing content in a language that people relate to. Moreover, I never feel stressed or worry about any competition from the mushrooming newer artists, because I think, if you work responsibly and be true and unique in your work, no one can replace you.
“One must be faithful towards their work and if you are dedicated and consistent enough, you will be recognised. But if you go off the rails and compromise your ethics and morals, then downfall is expected.
One must work with respect and dignity,” he says commenting on how to be different from the crowd.
He also shares that not everyone can handle the stardom.
“These people are the victims of time and circumstances. I believe that when one is not capable of doing certain things, they should first increase their capability before attempting it.
Also, only one spoken word is enough to turn everything to dust. We as artists should take responsibility of our actions and should realise that what works for some people will not work for everybody else also.
Also, originality is the key. Borrowed things do not sustain in the society.”
When quizzed if adult content and satire was the future, he says, “Now we hardly find comedians who do not use suggestive or offensive content in their acts without considering who their audiences are and who will be watching their performances.
This may be the future, but then one cannot sustain with only such content. We are very influenced with westernisation in everything.
“Our cultural values are still omnipresent. Moreover, the choice of target audience and platform here plays a big role and also what impression you finally want to create.
“Now people have started thinking very technically and understand everything really well. Early we had to explain them the entire background before we even start with the gig, but now they are well aware of the current scenario which automatically connects with them,” he adds.
With more than 3000 live shows done globally, Navin is now writing his own concepts, short films, stories and will soon be seen in a television serial and a web series.
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