Jaspal Bhatti, Sardar of Satire, dies in Punjab car crash

Jaspal Bhatti

THE laugh went out of laughter on Thursday as Jaspal Bhatti, one of the biggest comics of Indian television and cinema, was killed in a car crash while he was on his way to promote his latest film on the eve of its release. Bhatti, described as the king of comedy, among others, was 57.

An ace writer, director and actor, Bhatti was a stinging social and political commentator who gave serious issues a brilliant twist of wit and humour even as he called himself the 'Ulta Pulta' (topsy-turvy) man after one of his popular

TV series.

Bhatti's car crashed into a tree near Jalandhar in the early hours of Thursday when he was on his way to promote Power Cut, which is due to release on Friday. His son Jasraj Bhatti and actress Surilie Gautam sister of Yami Gautam who acted in Vicky Donor were also in the car and were injured. Besides Jasraj, Bhatti is survived by his mother, wife Savita and daughter Rabbiya. He had lost his father on August 15 this year.

An electrical engineer from PEC, Chandigarh, Bhatti was a former executive engineer with the Punjab State Electricity Board who was blessed with a sharp wit and a sense of humour. Instead of wasting this talent in meaningless comedy films and programmes, Bhatti sought to use it as a weapon of change and invested it in his shows - from his first sitcom Flop Show that aired on Doordarshan in 1989 to Ulta Pulta and Nonsense Private Limited. He wrote, directed and starred in all of them along with wife Savita.

If Flop Show was an incisive and amusing comment on Indian society and its harassed and burdened middle-class, Ulta Pulta and Nonsense Private Limited gave a comical view of corruption. There was sense in his 'Nonsense Club' - also India's first humour club, an order to the chaos in Ulta Pulta and Full Tension, and a hit formula of definite hilarity in the legendary Flop Show. The 1980s and 90s saw the rise of this genius who seemed to have his finger on the nation's pulse and entertained it with his spoofs on the system and sharp socio-political statements.

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