Zakir Khan’s ‘Haq Se Single’ video is Amazon Prime India’s most anticipated stand-up comedy special. On this occasion Zakir is your love guru, taking his time and using all of the stage to solve your love, rejection, and break-up problems, while exposing a few of his own.
Khan starts with a childhood story about his father. As the young Zakir develops, we learn that the elder sakht launda (tough guy) is a warrior – approaching girls, getting rejected, but never giving up. The line ‘Baapu apna stud launda hai’ (My dad is a stud guy) elicits wild applause, establishing the atmosphere for a typical Zakir show.
When Zakir visits a Japanese restaurant with a girl whom he has only met on Facebook, his encounter with an unknown foreign cuisine, experience of a first date, and struggle to divine the meaning of ‘nonchalant’ is hilarious. The realisation that ‘a guy truly develops only when there is a girl in his life’ strikes a chord with his young audience.
Khan exposes society’s failure to empower women. Observations about girls and boys in live-in relationships ring with the humour of truth. Boys pretend to like the same things as the girl, he reveals, in a desire to seem more compatible. Taking personal satire to a new level, he confronts an ex-girlfriend with his own deceit.
Contrary to the title, Zakir is anything but ‘Haq Se Single’ for most of the show. Although he deserves appreciation for a ninety-minute performance, it misses the magic for which he is renowned. For example, references to the movie ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ play a protracted role in the final act, where their only purpose seems to be leveraging the popularity of the film to disguise soft punch lines and provoke cheap laughs.
Stand-up comedy is taking baby steps in India. Stars like Zakir Khan must make great strides to fulfil the fans’ expectations. Here he more resembles a wise story-teller than an acclaimed stand-up comic. Were it not for his conversational style and non-verbal cues, the production wouldn’t be as laughable.