Review: ‘LOL Hasse Toh Phasee’ Is An Insult to Comedy
The reality show is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
LOL Hasse Toh Phasee
Review: ‘LOL Hasee Toh Phasee’ Is An Insult To Comedy
On Amazon Prime Video comes a reality show, LOL Hasse Toh Phasee that can be best described as Big Boss (with mostly funny people and more positivity) on cocaine, and for whoever pitched this as perhaps exactly that, will probably be looking down an endless hole of embarrassment. Imagine if Gasper Noe’s Climax were a low budget, fairly sober Hindi cable TV show. Starring Gaurav Gera, Sunil Grover, Mallika Dua, Kusha Kapila, Aadar Malik, Aakash Gupta, Ankita Shrivastav, Cyrus Broacha, Aditi Mittal and Suresh Menon, it is hosted by Boman Irani and Arshad Warsi. What a mouthful, isn’t it?
One would automatically assume quality entertainment and endless laughter owing to these names but brace yourself, for that is not the case and there is more than meets the eye.
The concept of the show is simple - all these comedians, under the watchful eyes of Irani and Warsi who act like hosts, judges and more, assemble together in a gaudily done and tacky film set for a grand total of 6 hours. Their primary aim remains to make each other laugh, or even smile, and therefore cause the said smiling person's elimination. Last man standing wins 25 lakhs. Irani and Warsi watch over these contestants from a dark, dungeon-like room, as all of them proceed to collectively drop the IQ of everyone watching and themselves and decide who’s smiling or laughing enough to be eliminated. Simple.
While most of the show is insufferable, to see Irani and Warsi on screen together, interacting, joking around and cracking a smile is very warm and familiar, reminiscent of our childhoods, where we grew up watching Irani be the bad guy and Warsi being the adorable Circuit.
The two, now older, calmer and with the warmth of your favourite distant uncle, are like a visual warm hug. Props for being able to bring these two precious men together. This is perhaps the only saving grace this show has to offer.
I wonder if the person who came up with the concept of this unscripted show laughed in glee, having thought that he or she had struck gold and I wonder what the executives at Amazon were thinking when they approved this tone-deaf production. The diversity and versatility in the kind of comedians the show is able to bring together is nice but what do they do with this reservoir of good talent and resources? They, of course, waste it.
Grotesque and loud sounds indicate the start and pause of the game and the rules, other sound effects and even the so called “point” system is vague, unexplained, half baked and lacks any structure and preparedness.
They all get together, act like buffoons and in the name of comedy perform what is an insult to improv comedy and embarrass themselves. It seems the show relies more on the large number of costumes the contestants change in and out of, making for a disorienting and unoriginal style, rather than either of their individual comedic prowess. It's as if looking stupid is equated to being funny. Aakash Gupta is perhaps my favourite and tries to perform sketches, create characters and add some kind of logic and humour to his comedy but mostly everyone else, is just bouncing from post to pillar, relying on makeup, clothes, bad mimicry, props and other lazy items for “comedy”. It is embarrassing.
Mallika Dua's age old, done to death Tinder aunty is back (with a different name). Gaurav Gera’s ridiculous facial expressions to compensate for a lack of comedic and writing talent can only do so much. Sunil Grover and Aakash Gupta shine in whatever little they do and try to stay afloat in this sea of rubbish. Cyrus Broacha and Ankita Shrivastav are as good as one of the many chairs and tables haphazardly placed on the set for their involvement is beyond negligible. Mallika Dua and Aditi Mittal are one trick ponies and they stick to those and Kusha Kapila, while very charming, isn’t far from that too.
To come up with a comedic show in a bio bubble of its own without an audience and exposure to too many people, is a wise decision perhaps, keeping in mind the raging COVID-19 pandemic, and can offer a moment of respite and relief to an otherwise aching nation, crumbling and heartbroken in this pandemic that seems like a war that refuses to end. We are all wounded, in this battle, no one untouched. Who will we be when the storm clears, a long time from now, and what will we do with all this pain? But why must, shows like these, not only insult the intellect and emotional capacity of the people of this country but also be so boring that not only do they not offer any respite but instead, expose the emptiness and hollowness of the Indian entertainment industry? One watches this and feels guilty for having wasted their time for life, as we now know, is so short.
This show is unnecessary and is an insult to comedy. The makers of Seinfeld, SNL, Friends, AIB, Sarabhai vs Sarabhai, The Office and even Amazon’s own Comicstaan could teach this team a thing or two about being funny (and especially about improv).
If you want to watch something funny this week and give yourself a moment to forget the the helpless catastrophe that is our world right now, I would recommend watching reruns of these classic shows I’ve mentioned (which, btw, are widely available online on a variety of platforms) and save yourself the additional pain of having to deal with this show. Its a terrible tragedy for I was beyond excited when the show was announced, owing to its cast and hosts and all that but I guess, disappointment is in the air.
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