Sunil Pal, Stand-up Comedian and Actor

Sunil Pal, Stand-up Comedian and Actor

Asit Dixit and Umesh Patil |
February 19, 2019

“BJP itni badi party hai kyonki inhone duniya se liya bahut hai inhone… inhone Nirav Modi ko de diya falaan ko de diya hai toh hum kalakaaron ko bhi de dein kuch (The BJP is so big a party. They say it has gained a lot from the world … [they say] they have given so much to Nirav Modi, they have given so much to others, so it was high time we artistes also got something from the party).”

Born to an Indian Railways employee, Sunil Pal had to work for many years as a junior artist before he arrived as a stand-up comedian by winning in 2005 The Great Indian Laughter Challenge, a comedy show on STAR One. In a career spanning over a decade and a half, Sunil Pal has acted in about a dozen Bollywood movies in comic roles, while he entertains audiences with back to back shows across the country. His Facebook page shows about 1.61 lakh followers while Twitter has 1000 followers. He has his own YouTube channel.

We met Pal at Future Studio in Goregoan on the sidelines of a film shoot. As we explain our agenda to the comedian, we tell him how he has to go about praising the BJP government for its good deeds and schemes in a subtle way, without naming the party, on social media platforms. Pal responds with a “humm” here and there and when we ask him if it is clear to him, he replies, “Nahi samajh gayaa main samajh gayaa ismein kuch nahi ye toh kaam hai (No, I go it. There is nothing but only this much to do).” In addition, we tell him, you will have to defend the BJP government on certain issues from time to time on which the opposition parties corner it. We will provide you the content and you will have to play it out in your own inimitable style. Maybe doing so in a video format would serve the purpose in an effective way, we surmise. “Humm, mera apna YouTube channel hai (Yes, I have my own YouTube channel),” he informs us.

As he has understood what is expected of him, we ask him what he would charge for his services. “BJP itni badi party hai kyonki inhone duniya se liya bahut hai inhone… inhone Nirav Modi ko de diya falaan ko de diya hai toh hum kalakaaron ko bhi de dein kuch (The BJP is so big a party. They say it has gained a lot from the world … [they say] they have given so much to Nirav Modi, they have given so much to others, so it was high time we artistes also got something from the party),” Pal tells us in his typical style. Throwing light on how he would work for us he tells us in the same breath, “Dekhiye main toh kya hai main karna shuru karoonga na toh mera aisa hai din-raat mere ko koi na koi idea aate rehte hain… do line yaheen se boloonga aisa ho gayaa waisa ho gayaa ye ho gayaa khataak theek hai (You see when I will start doing it, ideas flow in my mind day and night … I will shoot two lines from here itself saying this has happened, that has happened, okay).”

Then, in order to make his case for a higher remuneration, Pal tells us how he would work on our agenda in far more substantive and effective way. “Uske alawa doosra ek kaam jo hai wo isase oopar hai wo hai live shows aur mahine mein pandrah-solah live shows karta hoon … aur wahan mere haath mein mike hota hai aur wahan ki local media hoti hai … jo mujhe cable ke through wahan par poore area mein ek time ek sham ko kum se kum pachees lakh ke ghar pahuncha rahi hai pachees–pachaas lakh ke ghar pahuncha rahi hai … jaise main MP mein gayaa toh wahan MP ke liye bola toh wo jo media hai na wo baaki actors ko nahi milega (Besides that [the social media] I do another important work. I do 15–16 live shows every month … there on stage I hold the mike and present there is the local media … which connects me to about 25 lakh households in the area through cable TV. Suppose I visit MP and if I speak up for MP, the local media would give me coverage which none of the actors can have),” he says.

You mean you would use those platforms to promote the BJP, we wonder. Yes, this is exactly what he means. He says, “Haan wahi toh main kar raha hoon jismein Modi kee baat kar di Amit Shah kee baat kar di, BJP kee baat kar di wo mere paas mein hai aur uske alaawa main kahin bhi function mein chala gayaa kisi mein kuch chala gayaa, ek samajho ye hai iski toh ek party ho gai wahan humara local media rehta hai … wahan par main apni baat bol sakta hoon aur uske alaawa mere paas aur bhi jugaad hain (That is what I am telling you. It is my job to talk about Modi, to talk about Amit Shah, to talk about BJP there. Apart from this, if I go to some public function at somebody’s invitation, to an inauguration, for example … there is this party, and there is local media out there … so I can put forth my views. So, I have many more devices other than that [social media]).”

Telling him that we pay a celebrity according to the numbers of followers he or she has on social media, we quote Rs. 4 lakh per content. While trying to bargain for more, Pal again tells us about his reach to finally say, “Toh samajho agar main mahine mein dus show bhi karta hoon dus show ke hissab se toh aap samajh lo uss area ke 25 lakh log cover kar raha hoon ek show mein toh uske hissab se soch lijiye (So, try to understand. If I am holding 10 shows a month, then I would be covering about 25 lakh people in that particular area in a single show. You may decide [on my fee] accordingly).”

We again explain it to him how our agency arrives at a fee to be paid to a celebrity for the job. We would pay you Rs. 4 lakh per content per month, we tell him, and the number of contents to work on would be about four–five, which will be provided to you by us. But the comedian wants more. Pitching for a better bargain, he chips in, “Main toh zyada hee karoonga aap tension mat lijiye bas aap paanch kar dijiye per month main zyada hee karoonga aap content mein mujhe sir … content wo toh mere bhi kaam aata hai … koi acche content hote hain na toh main online news dekhte rehta hoon koi baat aa gai toh main karta rehta hoon uske oopar banaa deta hoon (Humm, no, I would do more, you need not to take any tension on this count. Sir, pay me [Rs] 5 lakh a month [per content]. I will do more [than what you say]) … As far as content is concerned, Sir that will be of good use to me as well … sometime you come across good content, so I keep watching online news and create something which I find interesting).” We happily oblige the comedian by agreeing to his demand and finally tell him he would be paid a fee of Rs. 20 lakh per month for his services.

Coming to money matters, we say it is political money, so how much cash he would be comfortable with, as we would be able to pay only up to 20 percent of his fee in white. The contract thus drawn will mention only the white part of his fee. The rest would be paid in cash. When we ask him if we could pay him 80 percent of his fee in cash, the actor ponders for some time to finally say, “Seventy-five kar lijiye (Keep 75 percent [in cash]).”

Barely a month or so after our interview, we had a conversation with the comedian on WhatsApp. Here, Pal told us he has started working on our agenda and in one of his shows lampooned Rahul Gandhi which led to a ruckus as some of the organizers did not like it. The local press covered the show held in Kuchera town in Nagaur district of Rajasthan. Pal even sent the cutting of the news published in local Hindi daily.

In this chat, we find Pal to be very excited as he tells us, “Ab toh hum shuru ho gaye bas aapne aag laga diya tha toh ab shuru ho gaye hum log aur kya hai (I have already started it. You have stoked the fire in me and I have started it).” While appreciating his bold effort, we ask him to start making tweets as well. Agreeing, he assures us, “Done, done, done.” Pal went a step ahead to show us his seriousness on our proposition. He made two tweets. In one tweet, the comedian takes a dig at Rahul Gandhi, saying, “Rahul Gandhi bahut ashawadi (optimistic) to hai warna itni baar harne ke baad koi aur hota to Dhandha hee badal deta (Rahul Gandhi is really optimistic. He would have, otherwise, changed his profession after losing so many elections).” 

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