Published: 01st April 2019
The Sorabh Pant interview: Why this comedian received 15 death threats on Instagram on New Year's Eve
For April Fool's Day 2019, we catch up with comedian Sorabh Pant, ahead of his performance in Phoenix Marketcity, Chennai — and it's an absolute riot
It was a bright sunny day. Not the kind of sunny day where you'd fancy a run by the beach or at the nearby park, but the kind where you'd double check that you've put on layers of sunscreen and that your bag has a bottle of cold water and a set of wet wipes. If you still think that getting tanned in the sun is cool, ask any Chennaiite that you know. Looks like Sorabh Pant got some expert advice before he came to Chennai for a stand-up show, because for reasons best known to him, even inside an air-conditioned cafe, he wouldn't take off his cap.
Coincidentally, it was just before April Fool's Day, which (according to astrologers), is the best day to talk to a comic. But turns out, Sorabh isn't big on April Fool pranks. That's not just it. He hasn't pranked anyone ever in his life. "What's the purpose of pranks?" he asks. At the same time, he tells us how his father makes all the effort to remind him of the day. "So, my dad will call me up and tell me something completely absurd like, 'Hey, I heard that there was a gas explosion near your house'. My wife and I will be completely dazed about this. Then we look at the newspaper and find out that it's the first of April," he laughs. "It works most of the time because I generally have no idea of what that day's date it is. Even on my birthday, September 14, I've woken up thinking that this date sounds familiar," he says.
So does nobody wish this comedian on his birthday, we wondered. To this, he says (sarcastically, of course), "I don't have friends or family members. Nobody wants to talk to me." He then points at his iPhone. "This phone that you see here is a prop. If you open the case, you get a chocolate bar just like those Gold Coin chocolates," says Sorabh in full-on improv mode by now.
Therefore, we thought of taking him back in time — to his college days. Sorabh tells us that he was the college clown back then. "I'd dress up as a devil (Not the Onida one. He had hair back then), go to juniors' classes and promote events. I nearly got expelled thrice," he tells us. Here's something that will interest all his haters (and fans, maybe). People apparently hated Sorabh a lot then. "Some people loved me, but the others hated me absolutely, exactly like the internet. So when I receive insults online, I am unshaken, because I've heard it all," he says. Trolls, please take note.
But it's not all bad news though. So many new things happened in his life, thanks to college. "I met girls for the first time. I said 'Hi' to a girl and she said 'Hi' back. I thought this was the best thing that could happen to me. Someone asked me how my life was going and I thought I was in love. I guess that's what happens when you're in BCom. You're distracted by anything and everything except studies," he laughs, while we nodded in agreement. Also, did you know that he was a self-proclaimed awesome playwright back in the day? "I wrote three plays and one of them won three intercollegiate fests. So I thought that I was the greatest playwright alive and all the others must remain dead because I've arrived. I even made a time machine with all my money, went back in time and murdered Shakespeare," he says, leaving at bewildered.
Did You Know: Sorabh was a self-proclaimed awesome playwright back in the day
Sorabh loves Puns. So we decided to ask him a question that we realised was stupid later — Ever wished that your surname was 'Pun't, instead of Pant? "Never," he replied, but he tells us two stories about his name. Turns out, his first voter's ID called him 'Sulabh Pani' and the second called him 'Sorabh Cant'. To believe this is up to you, but Sorabh swears that it actually happened. But the best story was yet to be told — the story behind his first name. "My mother named me after the Persian legend of Rostam and Sohrab, where Rostam ends up stabbing his son Sohrab to death. Ever since that day, I'm keeping a distance from my father," he tells us.
At 37, he's spoken about almost every controversial topic possible in his stand-up videos. Beef Ban, Modi, Salman Khan, Rahul Gandhi, you name it, he's done it all. The result? Trolls, insults and death threats. "This New Year's I received 15 death threats on Instagram. Sometimes it gets depressing, but then I realised that I must find some joy out of these. Also, who sends death threats on Instagram? That's a happy place," wonders Sorabh. He says that he's tried to stop looking at comments now. "I know I shouldn't do it and people tell me I shouldn't (look at the comments) but how can I post something and just ignore all the things people say right under it," he laughs.
It was time to sign off. Sorabh had a performance just after that. Before that though, he tells us what his performance mantra is, "Most of my sets are very consciously written. I don't want to make people feel bad about what they believe in. It's a fine line." We solemnly swear he's up to no good.