You were fabulous at the show. What’s your special trick to keep the audiences engaged?
Whenever I do a show, I make sure that I or my writers are involved. So it’s a lot more controlled. I haven’t emceed too much of late, films are taking up a lot of my time. However I liked the concept of Masala! Awards, I have had a great relationship with Cineyug and the money was good (laughs)!
You have visited Dubai with your shows before. Do audiences in India react differently to your jokes than audiences abroad?
Sometimes I get a better response abroad than in India. Especially with something like History of India VIRitten (his famous show that was staged in Dubai a few months ago) for a lot of NRIs, it’s like a refresher course on India that they let behind. So the reaction is great. I do hope to travel more with that show. Next year I hope to block two months of my year and do a world tour doing just stand-up comedy.
What is the essential difference between comedy in films vis-a-vis stand up acts qualitatively and otherwise?
In films, comedy is about attention to details, patience, working as a collective unit towards creating something funny. On stage, the result is instant, you don’t have to wait for six months to know if you have messed up or not! Besides, you are working solo and not as a unit. The quality of humour is largely the same. I am fortunate to have been part of a kind of comedic range – from young, urban humour and cool comedies like Go Goa Gone and Delhi Belly to something like my forthcoming Mastizaade and Santa Banta which have massy humour.
Your core is comedy, do you think that limits you as an actor if you want to do a serious role?
If I want to do a serious role, I will do one! There is a good pattern in the film industry these days. If the economics is right, you can make whatever you want. The concept has to be larger than star so it places guys like me in a good place.
Your script at the Masala! Awards had a lot of self-deprecatory humour regarding your failed films too. Are you able to look at your films objectively?
Absolutely. I have a simple goal when I take up a project – nobody should say I did a bad job. There are 100 different variables that determine the fate of a film. I pretty much leave a film behind on the last day of shoot. I don’t sit on the edits, I just do my dubbing if needed and largely I don’t even attend a screening. I am not a huge fan of my work in retrospect. It’s something that Aamir Khan and Boman Irani taught me – your relationship with your audience is larger than your film. Whatever be the fate of your film, they should say you did a good job.
From films to politics… you are quite vocal about your views. Have you ever been in trouble for endorsing a view that goes against the majority?
It doesn’t stop me, does it? I am very personal when it comes to social media. I call myself a reluctant influencer because whatever I do does get a lot of attention and followers. If I write a letter on social media, a newspaper may pick it up and publish it. I don’t have political alignments but these are my personal views and I won’t deviate because of what it may lead to.
As someone who was almost the trendsetter in the scene, do you think the stand-up comic scenario is getting over-crowded?
It is healthiest when there are more people. The audience can judge a bad comedian from a good one. And innovators will always survive. There will be mediocre comics just like there are mediocre athletes and actors. But mediocrity will help the good ones stand out.