Rakesh Bedi: Humour changes its pace with time but good humour remains timeless

In this interview with Murtaza Ali Khan, veteran comedian and versatile actor Rakesh Bedi talks about his upcoming web series Fathers Vol 2, changing trends in humour, OTT platform and more

Rakesh Bedi
Rakesh Bedi

Murtaza Ali Khan

Rakesh Bedi has been one of the most popular faces on Indian television for the last several decades. At the start of his career, he played memorable characters in films like Chashme Buddoor and Ek Duuje Ke Liye. But it was on television that he carved a niche for himself.  His comical turns in serials like ShrimaanShrimati, Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi, Yes Boss, Zabaan Sambhalke, and Bhabi Ji Ghar ParHai!, among others have been widely praised. In this interview, he talks about his latest web show FathersVol.2, the advent of the web alternative entertainment platform, the changing trends in comedy, and his upcoming projects.

What can we expect from Fathers Vol.2? Also tell us about your character in the series

Well, you can expect a fantastic dose of entertainment. The fathers are so lovable that they would be adored by everyone in the family,whether children or the elders, because these kind of people are present in every family in India. In our country, the retirement age is usually around 58-65. When people retire they really don’t know what to do. You see, they have worked all their lives and suddenly they have abundance of time and there is nothing much to do. Now these three fathers are living in the same vicinity and they have been friends for years. Everyone else in their families is busy and so they come together and try and kill their time and humor is essentially created out of this. My character is a retired banker. Having worked in a bank all his life everything about his revolves around calculations which also give rise to moments of humor. All 5 episodes can be streamed on TVFPlay and Mx Player.

Have you got a chance to watch Fathers Vol.1? How do you compare the two volumes?

I actually did watch Fathers Vol.1 after I got into Fathers Vol.2 because I wanted to get a feel of the content. I must say that I found a promise in Vol.1 but I feel that Vol.2 is much more happening. Not only it is very vibrant but it’s also on a bigger scale of production. I feel that Vol.2 is going to hit the masses in a very nice way.

Today OTT has become the buzz word but TVF has been there long before anyone else. How do you see TVF’s role in the evolution of web in India?

The first thing is that TVF are the doyens of this platform.They are the pioneers as far as the web is concerned. But I also feel that they now will have to further raise their level in order to compete with the rest of the other players. It’s a race for content out there and it’s about both quality and quantity. And I am sure that TVF is up to the challenge.

What was it like to work with Virendra Saxena and Manoj Joshi on Fathers Volume 2? How often did you get a chance to improvise?

Well, we all are vastly experienced actors who have been in the business for 35-40 years now. I have worked with the two of them earlier also on other platforms. So we know each other and respect each other. It was great fun and we actually improvised every scene. We read every scene and tried our best to present it to the best of our abilities while staying true to the demand of the director. Within the same periphery whatever we could do to enhance the scene we did. We not only worked hard at our individual characters but we also worked towards fine tuning one another’s characters

As someone who has been closely associated with film and television over the last many decades how do you look at web as an alternative entertainment platform?

I think the web is a great alternative platform. After ruling the roost for years, television in our country has been going through a phase of stagnation in the recent times. Barring a few exceptions the content on television is more or less the same across channels. And that’s why the advent of web has been a real game changer. Today you have content from all across the globe at your fingertips. We can now watch a Spanish show that’s dubbed or an Italian show that’s beautifully shot or a Chinese show with great action. So we have the access to content from all across the globe and our content is also reaching to every nook and corner of the world. Therefore, we have to be extremely competent now, more than ever.

You were the face of Shriman Shrimati back in the 90s. In the recent years you have been associated with Bhabhi Ji Ghar Par Hai and now Fathers Vol.2. How do you see the changing trends in comedy?

The thing with humor is that it that it changes gradually. Basically its pace changes with each decade. By pace I actually mean the pace of writing and performing. Say ‘80s had a certain pace. Shriman Shrimati’s pace was more suited to the ‘90s. Bhabhi Ji Ghar Par Hai and Fathers is more contemporary in that sense. But here I must say that if you have made something truly good then it becomes timeless. The shelf life of anything good is an everlasting one. Infact, I feel that today more people are watching Shriman Shrimati and Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi because now it’s all there online and you can watch the episodes on the go on your smartphones.

What are your upcoming projects?

Other than Fathers Vol.2, I have got a very interesting Marathi film that’s lined upnext called Triple Seat. I play a Parsi lawyer. Then I have a cameo in David Dhawan’s upcoming film Coolie No. 1. Then there is another web series called Udan Khatola. It’s again a comedy and I play a central character in it.

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