Shobu Kapoor (Mrs Khan) is in a pickle…and not just making them…
‘CITIZEN Khan’ is back on our screens this Friday (October 4) and love it or loathe it, you can’t deny the BBC has invested tremendous faith in it.
It’s something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by one of its lead actors, Shobu Kapoor who plays Mr Khan’s long-suffering wife.
“It will help to push the windows of opportunities,” Kapoor told www.asianculturevulture.com “’Goodness Gracious Me’ did.”
Two nominations for a Royal Television Society Award North West, where it is made and produced by BBC Comedy North, won’t hurt either.
It’s up in a category for best comedy and best performance in comedy for creator and lead actor Adil Ray, as Mr Khan.
Scheduled for a winter run with a reported Xmas special, ‘Citizen Khan’ broke new ground when it hit our screens in 2012 as the very first primetime sitcom to be centred exclusively around an Asian family.
Not just any Asian family, but a Muslim and Pakistani one headed by a bumptious, bumbling, self-serving patriarch, aka Mr Khan himself.
Despite Ray’s less than flattering portrait of this self-appointed ‘community leader’, Mr Khan does have redeeming features and is cutely British, sentimental, and occasionally very funny (and intentionally so).
However, its first run was not without controversy and while there were cries of hurt feelings and negative stereotypes, Ray staunchly defended his creation and was backed by the Beeb.
Kapoor puts the criticism into context.
“We had a viewership of three million people and about 200 complaints. Fair enough, everybody is entitled to their own opinion and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to watch it, you can switch the telly off.
“But we’ve been talking to a lot of young people, especially 13/14-year-old boys, and they say: ‘OMG, we love it’.”
While some complaints focused on the religious dimensions and stereotypes, there was another side to the flak, with some arguing that ‘Citizen Khan’ wasn’t funny, looked dated and should have been strangled at birth.
“It’s a traditional sitcom and rooted in its culture and it’s that universe of the family people can relate to,” said Kapoor, appreciating that the style of comedy may not suit everyone’s (Metropolitan?) tastes.
Mr Khan is a larger than life character and it’s better to see him as more of a caricature than a representative figure, but some things remain a mystery, in series two, to cast and viewer, alike.
“Everyone compared to Mr Khan is sane and I’d like to know (as Mrs Khan) what he does for a living too,” joked the former ‘Eastenders’ star, who was in the BBC soap from 1993-1998.
The second series of ‘Citizen Khan’ she said will develop the family characters with his long-suffering wife and two daughters – one about to marry and the other seemingly pious, but quite plugged into prevailing teenage mores – featuring more.
Kapoor finished filming for ‘Citizen Khan’ in the summer in Manchester and is now busy as a writer-producer.
She is shortly about to launch a Kickstarter fund for a 24-minute long film called ‘The Adventurer’, which she will produce under her and her business partner’s, Roman Candle Productions banner, as they look to make a feature. The company name is inspired by a famous oft-repeated quote from 1960s iconic US beat writer Jack Kerouac.
Kapoor also has her first professional writing piece likely to be performed next year with Tara Arts, the theatre in South London.
She has adapted part London-based, well-known Pakistani writer Moni Mohsin’s debut novel, ‘Tender Hooks’ for the theatre.
- ‘Citizen Khan’, BBC1, starts Friday, October 4, 9.30pm