Published: 22nd June 2018
Inside the incredibly funny mind of Varun Thakur and Vicky 'very pretty' Malhotra
Varun Thakur talks about his comedy career, films and obviously, Vicky Malhotra
Varun Thakur is just back from his US tour. He'd sold 15 full-house shows and the eighth year in his comedy career is going incredibly great. Undoubtedly, Varun is thrilled. But, the incredibly self-aware stand-up comic that he is, he knows that this isn't just it. He has a lot more to do and many goals to achieve in this life.
Nine years ago: Varun was an aspiring filmmaker, straight out of the University of Bristol with a Master's degree in filmmaking. He knew that was probably going to be in front of or behind the camera. But never in his wildest dreams imagined that he'd end up being one among the top comedians in India, or list comedy as a career. "Since I was 18, I wanted to make films and be a part of films. So, I did my Bachelor's in Mass Media with a specialisation in advertising. Then, I did my Master's in filmmaking from Bristol. I knew that eventually, I would do filmmaking. The closest I could come to it was my Amazon Prime original film Shaitan Haveli," says Varun.
The stand-up comedy scene has grown so much, There are few big players. Now comedians are on top of the game. They're on OTT platforms. It's a great time to be in the industry.
Varun Thakur, Comedian
Things changed when AIB's Tanmay Bhat, a good friend of Varun's, asked him to do an open mic for one of Vir Das's stand-up nights, which Varun had won. "That was when I knew that I had something in me. I was always the funny guy in our group and I could tell stories in a very interesting manner," says Varun.
The same stand-up night was when Varun met comedian Karan Talwar for the first time. "Karan is a really cool and funny guy. We became good friends and we used to chill and hang out together. One day we thought that we should also have a comedy collective of our own. That day, we'd watched a movie and the movie had a cafe named Schitzengiggles and that name struck us. We decided that this is going to be the name of our collective. It has to be the name of a comedy group, right? You can't have an investment company by that name," he laughs, narrating the birth of SnG Comedy. Later, other comedians also came on board and every Thursday, SnG would perform shows.
Varun says that his acting and filmmaking skills have always helped him in his comedy sketches and vice versa. He loves how the skills have made him a more versatile person
Eight years down the line, Varun certainly observes a lot of changes in himself as a comedian. He says, "You're bound to change. Over the years, my confidence has grown and now, I have the experience of knowing the audience and handling a room full of people. I've been much more conditioned and know where a joke drags and how to deliver a joke well. Every day, I'm challenging myself. I've understood what I am more comfortable doing and what my weaknesses are. And most importantly, the paycheck is bigger (laughs)."
It would be unfair to talk about Varun and not bring up Vicky Malhotra. You know Vicky 'very pretty amazing' Malhotra. He is a spoilt rich kid, who is obsessed with Ed Hardy t-shirts and jackets and everything that this struggling actor/DJ says is extremely sexist. Varun is not very surprised about how his Snapchat avatar that has also appeared in his Amazon Prime Original 'Varun this side, Vicky that side' is becoming more popular than himself. "Vicky was born out of my boredom. I was doing comedy and was getting bored and wanted to do something different. In today's day and age, you need a strong social media presence and that helps you better in getting your tickets sold too. I love doing characters. Apart from comedy, I also act. I meet actors on a daily basis. That character was always in my head. I tried to see how it works. Surprisingly, people liked it. So, I challenged myself and did a Vicky Malhotra Snapchat video every day," says Varun.
There is a clear distinction between Varun and Vicky. He is a separate person. The day Vicky stops saying these things, the character will die. You have to create a backstory and life for that person.
Varun Thakur, Comedian
Relatability and sensible satire is undoubtedly the reason for Vicky's popularity. Also, #Stereotypes! "Everyone knows a Vicky/ You've seen him in school, gym or work. In reality, most men will get killed if they say the things that Vicky says," says Varun. Can we disagree? After all, Vicky thinks that women can't drive and equal rights is a joke. But people know that it is satire and nobody hates Varun for that. Also, fun fact — some of the biggest Vicky fans are women!
(Varun Thakur is performing along with Niveditha Prakasam in Phoenix Market City, Chennai on June 30, 7pm. Tickets start from Rs 300)