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The Pretentious Interview4 min read

September 29, 2014 3 min read

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The Pretentious Interview4 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Slapstick comedy and sarcasm have a new form in Kanan Gill and Biswa Kalyan Rath, the hosts of Pretentious Movie Reviews. Engineers-turned-comedians, their YouTube videos garnered them overnight fame after they went viral. Their Bollywood movie reviews have been a constant source of entertainment for seven months now for the Indian youth.
After they conquered the internet world, the duo were in town for Kasturba Medical College’s fest, Vibes, where they tickled Manipal’s funny bone and left the crowd reeling with laughter. Young, witty and laidback, their interview with TMJ was as funny as you would expect.

Here are some excerpts from the interview:

You both were engineers to begin with so how did you become stand-up comedians?

Biswa Kalyan Rath: By doing stand-up (laughs). I wrote several blogs but they weren’t being recognised so I went out and enacted some pieces from my blogs and I eventually started doing stand-up.
Kanan Gill: (laughs) I was into music. I would write funny songs and sing to my friends and while performing I would crack jokes and make fun of people in the crowd and this led to me doing stand-up.

What are the challenges of being a stand-up comedian in India?

Biswa Kalyan Rath: Well practically speaking the job is so much fun that I can’t complain. It’s literally us cracking jokes and people laughing at them.
Kanan Gill: The challenges are the same as any other job, it requires you to be good at what you do and make decent money off it. Being stand-up comedians we are paid for being funny. If you’re a freelancer like us, receiving payment is tedious because you have to chase people around for it.

How do you prepare for your acts on stage? Are the jokes impromptu or do you prepare them beforehand?

Biswa Kalyan Rath: We rehearse each joke at least 50 to 100 times. We tend to remember them as well because we have performed them several times to a live audience.
Kanan Gill: I would say 90% of it is rehearsed and 10% just happens on stage. And standing on stage, cracking jokes is more difficult than you think so it’s better to have an idea about what you are going to say on stage if you want to do well.
Biswa Kalyan Rath: In ways it’s like doing a play but during acting you rehearse lines as a character but in the case of stand-up you rehearse until the words start coming naturally to you.

How do you go about reviewing a movie?

Kanan Gill: People who view our videos leave many suggestions in comments as to which movies we could review so sometimes that’s how we choose our movies. We otherwise watch a lot of videos and usually we know within the first 10 minutes of a movie whether it’s worth reviewing or not. For example when we saw Jaani Dushman, it was so unearthly that we just had to review it.
Biswa Kalyan Rath: We watch a lot of crazy stuff but now and then we come across epic movies such as Tum Mere Ho and Jaani Dushman and it’s as though they’re beckoning us to review them.

You had showcased Parle G in one of your videos and being comedians you tend to crack jokes on people and products. So have you ever been accused of defamation?

Kanan Gill: We’re not that famous (laughs) but please don’t put it out there! We used to be in constant fear of people taking down our videos which is why we chose such an old movie to begin with because they would have less copyright issues. Right now the ads on our videos make money because they own the copyright. They earn a lot through such videos and we are fine with that as long as we can peacefully coexist.

Have you thought of reviewing movies outside of Bollywood?

Kanan Gill: Yes, it’s an idea we are currently toying with but we don’t want to offend people.
Biswa Kalyan Rath: (imitating general audience) Hollywood review kyu kiya? Bollywood mein itna movies hai. Desh Drohi ko review kyu nahi kiya?
Kanan Gill: Yeah so we don’t want that to happen, but eventually for sure.

It’s been roughly 7 months since you shot your first review. How do feel on garnering such popular fan following within such a short time?

Biswa Kalyan Rath: I’m cynical I don’t feel anything.
Kanan Gill: It’s interesting having fans and it’s also weird because who knew this was going to happen! But how are we dealing with it? Constructively I would say. In fact we were just talking about this today. One day you are just an ordinary person walking on the road and the next day people start recognising you and want to click pictures with you and it leaves you feeling overwhelmed but the third day you’re already used to it and are not as excited anymore.

Sub-edited by Manasi Srivathsan