‘LOL: Hasse Toh Phasse’ Review: a Requiem to Laughter
A scene from “LOL: Hasse Toh Phasse.” (Publicity Photo)
By R.M. VIJAYAKAR Special to India-West
MUMBAI — The first thing I decided after watching the six episodes of “LOL: Hasse Toh Phasse” was to not give any rating to this abysmal content. It did not seem right to give minus ratings to a show that has Boman Irani and Arshad Warsi as hosts and observers / judges / whatever and comedians as brilliant as Sunil Grover, Cyrus Broacha, Gaurav Gera and even Suresh Menon and other (to me) lesser-known but illustrious names.
Because, while this show is an adaptation of “Last One Laughing” and its Japanese original format, it is more of a requiem for laughter than a hilarious reality comic show at least in its Indian format—one could say that true humor or laughter died during the show, but for sporadic bits from Grover, Gera, Broacha and Menon.
One may concede that to make everyone laugh the humor has to be a shade basic, child-like, childish or slapstick, but there are limits, especially when we consider that the show is not for kids, and there is a definite orientation towards an English-speaking Indian audience. And today, even the pan-Indian audience is accustomed to a much higher level of humor, come Irani-Warsi’s “Munna Bhai MBBS” or Sunil Grover’s appearances on “The Kapil Sharma Show” and that show itself.
But here, hosts / judges / whatever Irani and Warsi seem to go a shade ahead of even Navjot Singh Sidhu and Archana Puran Singh in “The Kapil Sharma Show” in the degree of needless laughter, though to reiterate, that show’s level was truly funny.
The concept, let us remind ourselves, is good, explaining its global success. 10 comedians are locked for six hours (and the audience at will for six episodes of about 25 minutes each) on a set designed by Omung Kumar with the fatwa that they should make each other smile or laugh and not do so themselves. The precondition is that one gaffe gets the contestant a yellow card (a warning) and the second leads to his elimination. There is also a warning card given to those who do little to make anyone laugh.
The eliminated join the Irani-Warsi combo in laughing needlessly and uproariously at the antics of the rest and, when instructed, can reenter as “zombies” to tempt the “survivors” to move the right muscles for elimination.
There are segments where the contestants speak their feelings and others where they have to present a short act as part of “Showtime.” There are a whole lot of props that can be used from the prop room to help them be various characters, and Gaurav Gera used the maximum as he played the most number of characters, not all tasteful, though it would hardly be a spoiler to say that he was among the top three after men as remarkable as Grover and Broacha were eliminated.
The humor hovers between toilet, gross, unfunny to the extreme, pathetically childish and more. We wish a select TV audience could have been promised the prize of Rs. 2.5 million—it would have easy to prevent smiles and laughs from them and we would have needed a lucky draw to decide the winner among so many!
Also, dear Amazon Prime Video, do explain the “credits” of “writer for xyz” mentioned above. Did these seriously funny actors follow “writers”—if so, how did they do so in this unscripted reality show?
Rating: Don’t make me laugh!
Produced by: Fazila Allana & Kamna Nirula Menezes
Series directed by: Utsav Chatterjee & Jahnvi Obhan
Writers: Anirban Dasgupta, Sourav Ghosh, Saurav Mehta
Shantanu Anam (Writer for Mallika Dua)
Shreeja Chaturvedi (Writer for Aakash Gupta)
Supriya Joshi (Writer for Kusha Kapila)
Manoj Kumar (Writer for Sunil Grover)
Piyush Kumar (Writer for Aakash Gupta)
Shreyas Manohar (Writer for Cyrus Broacha)
Akash Mehta (Writer for Aditi Mittal)
Vishnu Menon (Writer for Ankita Shrivastav)
Sriram Padmanabham (Writer for Suresh Menon)
Menka Sharma (Writer for Gaurav Gera) (1 episode, 2021)
Shankar Srikumar (Writer for Gaurav Gera)
Kautuk Srivastava (Writer for Aadar Malik)
Featuring: Sunil Grover, Mallika Dua, Kusha Kapila, Gaurav Gera, Cyrus Broacha, Suresh Menon, Aakash Gupta, Aadar Malik, Aditi Mittal and Ankita Shrivastav, with Boman Irani and Arshad Warsi