The Comedian, headlined by the late Satish Kaushik, marks the beginning of JioCinema’s digital film festival, a posthumous release following his sudden demise in March 2023. Helmed and written by Katyayan Shivpuri, this short film is a fitting tribute to the versatile actor, capturing the essence of his craft and the emotional depth he brought to his roles.

The story revolves around Hasmukh, an aging actor and comedian, played brilliantly by Kaushik. His career has dwindled, and his personal life is in shambles due to his reckless behavior. The frustration of a fading career has turned him bitter and cantankerous. The film introduces us to Hasmukh at a client’s birthday party, where even the forced smile on his face can’t hide his inner turmoil. It’s evident that he was once a star but is now stranded in the shadows of his past success.

I may have directed 15 films over my career, but in my heart, I am an actor first, Satish Kaushik remarked in an interview from 2018. The thing that makes me the happiest is acting and being in front of the camera. I put in day and night for the direction and production of films, but I will continue to perform till I die. These remarks have a greater meaning now that the upbeat Satish Kaushik has died at the age of 66. He was traveling to Delhi when he had a heart attack.

The Comedian” draws parallels with Sanjay Mishra’s “Kaamyaab,” exploring the struggles of senior artists trying to find their place in an industry that has moved on
without them. Hasmukh is a relic of a bygone era, a poignant reminder of the failure that has crept into his life, causing him to snap at friends, neighbors, and children.

He came into this world in a humble household, in a quaint village not too distant from Mahendragarh in Punjab, in the year 1956. During his childhood, Kaushik would often spend countless hours reclining on a chaarpai (cot) amidst the open fields, gazing at the vastness of the sky, and weaving captivating tales in his mind. His dreams revolved around heading to Bombay to pursue an acting career, and he dared to confide in his

parents about these ambitious aspirations, boldly stating that he would achieve great success someday. Little did his family realize that fate had already taken note of
Kaushik’s aspirations.

Upon Satish Kaushik’s arrival in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), he initially took on various odd jobs, including working as a shopkeeper and assisting in the production of various film shoots. It was during one such assignment that he secured a minor role in the 1981 movie “Chakra,” which featured Smita Patil. The film was being filmed in
Chembur, and Rajkumar Santoshi served as one of the assistant directors on the set. Kaushik had previously shared, “In the film, I had a very modest role, but during one of the shots, Rajkumar Santoshi approached me and said, ‘You are a talented actor.’ Those words filled me with immense pride, and I still cherish that moment to this day. Dreams only require a little encouragement and support, and my friends consistently provided me with opportunities to thrive and succeed in the film industry.”

However, the film takes a heartwarming turn when an unexpected friendship blossoms between Hasmukh and Ria, an ailing child. Ria’s arrival transforms Hasmukh from a
“grizzly bear” into a “koala bear.” Their relationship becomes the emotional core of the film, teaching Hasmukh the values of love, friendship, and companionship. Ria, portrayed with grace and sensitivity, is a cancer patient living on borrowed time, and she imparts profound life lessons to Hasmukh, reminding him of the things he once knew but had deliberately forgotten as life wore him down.

“The Comedian” subtly mirrors Satish Kaushik’s own life, especially in moments where Hasmukh reflects on his identity as an actor labeled primarily as a comedian. This struggle is something that resonates not only with Kaushik but also with many artists
who find themselves confined to a single label, limiting their artistic expression. The film also showcases moments that echo Kaushik’s real-life bond with his daughter, adding an extra layer of authenticity to his performance.

While “The Comedian” shines in its portrayal of genuine emotions and authentic performances, there are some shortcomings. The English dialogue in the film appears forced and occasionally disrupts the narrative flow. Additionally, the supporting actors could have been utilized more effectively, and the development of the Hasmukh-Ria relationship could have been explored in greater depth.

In conclusion, “The Comedian” is a heartfelt tribute to Satish Kaushik’s legacy and a poignant exploration of an artist’s journey from fame to obscurity. Despite its minor flaws, the film delivers moments of genuine emotion and is rich in metaphors. It serves as a reminder of Kaushik’s remarkable craft and is a must-watch for those who

appreciate the depth he brought to his roles. With a rating of 4/5 stars, “The Comedian” is a touching cinematic experience that honors the memory of a talented actor who will be deeply missed in the world of Indian cinema.

Written By : Indori Nerd

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