New Delhi: Soon-to-be Chief Minister of Punjab and former comic Bhagwant Mann seems to be having the last laugh, with Aam Aadmi Party’s sweeping win in the state assembly elections. And hours after the results were announced Thursday, social media was flooded with episodes of Mann’s stint as a stand-up comic in one what has been one of the most popular shows of the 2000s — ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’.
In 2006, Mann was a contestant on the show that was judged by his now political rival and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu. Videos of Mann’s performance are now doing the rounds on social media platforms.
‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’ was, perhaps, the first show to formally introduce the culture of stand-up comedy in our country. Produced by Endemol India, the show aired on STAR One and STAR Plus channels and ran for a total of five seasons from 2005-2008.
Comedians at the show performed in front of judges and live audiences. The initial three seasons of the show were judged by eminent TV personality Shekhar Suman and former cricketer and Punjab politician Sidhu. In the fourth season, actor Shatrughan Sinha replaced Suman, while the fifth season had three mentors — Zakir Khan, Hussain Dalal and Mallika Dua who was later replaced by Sajid Khan. Apart from these, actors Shreyas Talpade and Akshay Kumar had to select the finalists.
Many contestants went on to become popular names in the comedy industry — Sunil Pal was the winner of the first season while Raju Srivastava was the second runner up. Contestants from Pakistan had also appeared in the show. Winner of the second season was Pakistani comedian, actor and producer Rauf Lala.
Famous comedian Kapil Sharma won the third season and many other talented names such as Siraj Khan, Bharti Singh, Navin Prabhakar, Sudesh Lehari and Ahsaan Qureshi went on to make names for themselves in the industry.
Everybody loves the ‘rise of an underdog’ story
Mann, who is set to take oath as the new Punjab chief minister on 16 March, began his career as a comedian and later also ventured into acting. He gained immense popularity for his performances at ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’.
In an old video that has now resurfaced on the internet, Sidhu can be seen bursting out in laughter on hearing’s Mann’s joke. The clip, ironically, is a political satire in which Mann can be seen describing his encounter with a politician, and exploring the meanings of “rajneeti” (politics) and “gormint” (government).
It’s pretty clear that @BhagwantMann
will be the next CM
Among his competitors was @sherryontopp#Throwback to the Laughter Challenge – where Bhagwant was cracking a joke on politics and Siddhu was laughing as the judge. #PunjabElections
— Raj (@iamup) March 10, 2022
With AAP’s recent win in the Punjab assembly elections, the clip has gained a whole new meaning and is being widely shared on social media platforms. It has invited reactions from all over and people can be seen celebrating Mann’s ‘victory’.
14 years back #BhagwantMann stood in front of #NavjotSinghSidhu as a contestant at The Great Indian Laughter Challenge. Today he stands on the verge of being the CM of a state where Sidhu is Congress chief.
What an incredible journey for both Mann and #AAP#PunjabElections pic.twitter.com/C0bmq0hbR8
— Sneha (@SnehaUvaach) March 10, 2022
To everyone who judged you ever in your life !!!!!
Today a Laughter Challenge contestant won and the man who judged him in the show has lost !!!
Just a Thought !!!#PunjabElections2022 #AAPInPunjab #Bhagwantmann #ElectionResults #ElectionResults2022 #NavjotSinghSidhu pic.twitter.com/YRg0A6N1y8
— Utkarsh Yadav (@kohli_fanboy18) March 10, 2022
The fact that Mann was judged and later eliminated by Sidhu has become the crux of the recent celebratory narrative. The fortunate turn of events for Mann and the misfortune for Sidhu is being highlighted in the rather Shakespearan way of ‘fickle fortune’.
Mann has come a long way — from entertaining people on TV screens to now becoming the chief minister-designate of Punjab. He won by over 45, 000 votes.
AAP has already begun celebrations after the party registered its second-biggest win following Arvind Kejriwal’s victory in Delhi.
Also read: Office Office — Rajiv Mehra’s 2001 satire on the common Indian that gave everyone a chuckle