From class comedian to stage comic: Prashant Sahane loves making people laugh

When Prashant Sahane was a 12-year-old schoolboy, he was the class joker. He loved to while away any free time telling jokes to his classmates to elicit laughter. Of course, this was done when the teacher was not in the classroom.

During those carefree days, he would fool around in class, mimic­king his teachers. His classmates who crowded around him would laugh their hearts out. Some of them would ask him to repeat his acts, time and again.

Prashant would imitate his teachers – not just their mannerisms but also their tone of voice.

“Mimicking the teachers was fun and my friends would gather around me and be my audience,” said Prashant, 37, of his school days in Nashik in Maharashtra, western India.

One day, he was punished for joking about his teachers as there was a tell-tale among the pupils. One of the boys informed a teacher about Prashant poking fun at his teachers and he was hauled up and punished. But after that incident, Prashant wised up.

Prashant Sahane stand up comedian

Prashant performing at Vivekananda school in Kuala Lumpur in September. Photo: SANDESH SAVARDEKAR

The punishment did not deter him from continuing with what he loved best – sharing jokes. He didn’t know then, but he was honing his skills in stand-up comedy. To stay out of trouble, Prashant cracked jokes about Bollywood celebrities instead!

When his mimicry of celebrities became more polished, he even performed at his school’s annual functions. These experiences further inspired him. Later, he performed in more local events. His performances are in English, Hindi and Marathi (an Indo-Aryan language spoken by around 83 million Marathi people of Maharashtra.)

In college, he continued to perform at events whenever the opportunities came.

Prashant said: “Television became my guru and, very quickly, I was learning to imitate the voices of Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, and many more legends of Hindi films.”

Gradually, his liking for acting grew and he started to entertain his friends. He also included new material in his acts, such as movie dialogue, dance moves, and the mannerisms and walking styles of Bollywood celebrities.

Money, Prashant said, is not the motive for his performances; rather, his intention is to spread joy. His comedy acts, he believes, also help the audience to relieve the stress of their daily lives.

Prashant Sahane stand up comedian

Son Shripad, eight, is already mimicking his friends and teachers. Photo: Handout

Getting Better By The Day

These days, Prashant works as an information technology architect. He has an MBA from Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies, in Pune, India. He came to Malaysia to work about 10 years ago.

However, for the last 15 years, he has been actively involved in stand-up comedy and Bollywood mimicry, as a hobby.

“Stand-up comedy is my passion,” said Prashant, who has performed his comedy acts on many occasions.

Prashant mimicks well-known Bollywood celebrities such as Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Amir Khan Dharmendra and Dilip Kumar, and politician Nana Patekar. He would mimick Shah Rukh’s way of laughing and his mannerisms.

“I chose to imitate Shah Rukh, the romantic hero, because I’m smitten by the way the actor romances women in his movies,” he said.

He also likes Amitabh, especially the actor’s voice. He said that Amitabh Bachchan was once rejected by India Radio for not having a voice that was good for broadcasting.

“Actually, he has a manly voice and, ironically, his voice is one of the reasons that he is the star of the millennium,” Prashant said.

Prashant’s son, Shripad Sahane, eight, is probably his No.1 fan. “He is already mimicking his friends and teachers!” said Prashant.

When he was much younger, Prashant said his son was perplexed why dad was talking to himself in front of the mirror.

“He used to stop me and talk to me, as he thought that I was behaving strangely because I had no one to talk to,” he said.

It was after watching his father perform that Shripad understood what Prashant was doing.

Said Prashant: “He used to love to sit in the audience and watch me perform on stage. Now, he is insisting that his mum sit in the audience as he wants to take charge of the music!”

A Family Affair

Prashant Sahane stand up comedian

Prashant with wife Bharati, who is charmed by his humour and also his ‘biggest support system’.

His wife, Bharati, helps out with backstage work.

“While I write scripts, she takes care of the music and even directs my performances and helps to take my act to another level,” he said.

His wife is very proud of him and is charmed by his humour.

In turn, Prashant is grateful to her for being so supportive.

“She is my biggest support system and my shadow as she is always with me,” he added.

In his youth, Prashant’s parents were also happy with his stand-up comedy skills as no one else in the family could do that, he said.

But his relatives were worried that he was losing his focus on his studies when he got more involved in in his comedy acts. They thought these acts would not be fruitful, compared to academic achievements.

“But my parents had faith in me and always encouraged me to carry on,” he said. Being mindful, Prashant juggled his comedy acts and worked hard at his studies too.

Prashant is also a theatre buff who enjoys acting, directing, singing and dancing.

He said: ”Ankur Kala Kendra in Nashik, Maharasta, is an organisation from where my journey in theatre began. I also learnt filmmaking while involved in theatre work from 1999 to 2003.”

As recently as last year, during weekends and public holidays, Prashant would volunteer his time to assist local college students with their filmmaking projects. He said: “I volunteered and helped them during their field shooting. Some of them even sent their work to film festivals.”

To Prashant, comedy is “very much like watering plants regularly. The moment you stop, you lose the charm and growth – and become lifeless.

“Today, life is hectic and stressful, and comedy helps to keep the mind positive and fresh because laughter is the best medicine in the world.”

Entertainment – Star2.com

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