Balraj, who is currently being seen in the newest season of ‘Comedy Circus’, has enjoyed entertaining audiences with his comedy on ‘Entertainment Ki Raat’. Not many will know that Balraj has also been a part of a handful of Punjabi films, and been a writer for popular comedy shows.
BizAsiaLive.com caught up with the host-writer-actor.
You have a comfort zone in comedy, it seems. Did you always aspire to become a comedian as such?
Well, I never wanted to be a stand- up comedian. I always wanted to be an officer, an IPS Or IS officer, three stars on a jersey like ‘Gangaajal’ or ‘Sarfarosh’. That was my dream, and I used to be good in studies so everyone in my circle always thought I would be doing a good job after, clearing the IS or IPS exam or go to the civil services. Destiny had some other plans and I think in a way I am a civil servant now. Entertaining people, making them laugh, and relieving their stress is a type of service. I think I always wanted to be a civil servant and I am but I never wanted to be a stand-up comedian. Once I started doing stand-up comedy, I never wanted to do anything else.
How difficult is it to write comedy-whether in films or TV shows?
Well, writing comedy in itself is a tough job. It really doesn’t matter whether you’re writing for television or films. But yeas, comparatively, I think the speed in which you have to write and deliver in television is really tough as you’re shooting every week. You need to give more humour to the audience compared to the last performance of yours. Accordingly, you have to work so hard because there’s so little time in television and you have to deliver a lot. So writing in television is a little harder, especially when the expectations are high because of this. Compared to films, you get time, you get help in the story setup and screenplay, but it is still hard regardless. Writing comedy for television is difficult because of the speed we work in.
What connect do you need to feel with the audience in order to know what makes them laugh?
I think you have to be very real. You have to be the person you are in front of the audience and that’s when they love you. The audience is very sharp these days. They like honesty. You cannot pretend to be a comedian, and you cannot pretend to love your audience when that’s not how you really feel. The audience has become very smart and I’ve always felt that if the audience likes you, they will like your content too. It’s not that the audience doesn’t like you but like yours content, that never happens. Honesty is very important. I’m always honest with my audience. Who and what I am stays the same during my shoots. I am the same with my fans as well. I also always keep it in mind that I should not be insulting the television audience as I’m entertaining them. Being naughty is important for a comedian. I think that you can’t create humour if you’re not mischievous, but I keep it in mind that no one should be directly insulted, they shouldn’t feel bad. If you think that your family can laugh at your content, then you can deliver it to the audience. Your honesty with the audience is very important, that one-on-one connection is very important. I can tell the audience honestly that this is me Balraj. I think being honest is the best way to connect with your audience.
You’re a part of ‘Comedy Circus’ once again. How does it feel returning?
Yes, I am a part of Comedy Circus. It is kind of a re-launch for the franchise because we are bringing back the brand after three-four years, so the expectations are really high. Everybody’s looking forward to seeing what these people will be doing in the show, meaning the people performing in the show. It’s kind of a good feeling but mixed feelings too. On one end, you are doing work that makes you feel good and on the other hand, there’s the stress behind the responsibility of making people laugh. Especially in this format, where there are people sitting in front you like Archana and Sohail, the judges of the show. They analyze your performance and tell you how you performed, good and bad. Working on stage is my first love and always makes me feel good. It’s always good to be a part of such a huge franchise.
What would you say is the reason for the show’s popularity?
The biggest reason behind a show’s popularity is because the audience starts liking your work. People love the faces on the show. They like the content. I also think the reason behind Enterainment Ki Raat’s popularity was because it was effortless, especially the segment with me and Raghu and Malishka. The interviewers would also change. Sometimes it would be Aditya Narayan or Karan Wahi and Saumya Tandon was in the second season. The audience loved those segments so much because they weren’t really scripted. It was a random conversation with our guests, and Raghu and I would do impromptu counters. The audience liked it because it was a casual conversation and they never felt like we were putting in so much of an effort to make the guests laugh. In fact, we never felt like we were trying too hard either. It was a chit-chat atmosphere that probably hasn’t been attempted before. It was new, the conversation was new. It obviously had to be fresh. The audience sees you doing this effortlessly, which makes you lovable and you’re not trying too hard.
You have been seen in Punjabi films. If you could, would you move from TV to films permanently?
Yes, I have done three-four Punjabi films in the earlier part of my career, and if I were to be given the opportunity to move from television to films permanently, I would delightfully say no to it. I think television is my first love. Television has always been there whenever I needed the work. I can be what I am on TV. I can be Balraj on TV and connect with the audience, which I probably won’t be able to do as Balraj in films. I have to play characters. If I am playing the lead, the character will have a different name, a different story. In television, I can connect to the audience just the way I am. This only happens in TV so there is no question of leaving TV permanently for films. Doing both mediums simultaneously is every artist’s dream, and it is mine too.
Would you consider being a part of a web-series?
Well, I would definitely love to be a part of any good work, any good project, be it a web-series, films, or TV shows. It’s not that I won’t work in a web-series if I am doing television, or that I won’t do films or stage shows because I am working on a web-series. Web-series or commercials, whatever it is, I am going to do shows that will make you feel good. If I receive an offer for a good web-series, than I will definitely do it.
Apart from ‘Comedy Circus’, what else do you have coming up?
The problem with reality show artists is that we can’t do two shows at once, which is our biggest tragedy. So right now, I’m only working on Comedy Circus. Apart from that, we are in talks for a few films, we’re working on a script and some things will be locked in three-four months. I’m also writing a book on stand-up comedy which I’ve already worked really hard on, and there is a lot more hard work to do. Project wise, I’m only doing Comedy Circus as of now and focusing on only that.
BizAsiaLive.com thanks Balraj for taking the time to talk to us.