‘Tathastu’ Review: Zakir Khan’s Stand-up Special Is All About Blessings

Zakir Khan, known as the “sakht launda” to many of his fans, is recognized for delivering accessible comedy, which many of us correlate with on many levels. Most of his videos speak directly to the audience through plenty of anecdotes that we are pretty sure to have happened to many of us in the daily scheme of things. Known primarily for his comedy sets in the Hindi language, he broke the internet with his Delhi girl standup set years ago. Zakir Khan has not looked back since. This time with “Tathastu” (bless you), a standup special on Amazon Prime Video that was released on December 1, 2022, he takes us to something closer to his heart. His life and his family. Does the one-hour set tug at your heartstrings? Read ahead to learn more.

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The standup special begins with Zakir Khan talking about someone who he has mentioned only a few times in his previous sets. This special hits home for him as it is about his grandfather, Ustad Moinuddin Khan, a revered sarangi artist, and his relationship with him since his younger days in Rajasthan. Zakir Khan goes back into his life as a school-going kid and talks about how his grandfather made sure he learned to play some instrument, if not a sarangi. Zakir describes in detail how his father and grandfather were keen on teaching him an instrument, but he never learned it in depth because he was too busy being the brat of the school. He also touches upon the joint family system, where family members carry a slavery streak in their mindset because all of them are assigned work on an hourly and daily basis. The humor in this special is accessible even to those who were not probably raised in a joint family setup because the comedy is quite descriptive. Zakir Khan is a proper middle-class-bred kid who makes sure that the essence of a middle-class life never goes out of his standup set, and that is the case with this as well. Reintroducing us to a middle-class setup, issues, and situations with his family makes “Tathastu” an incredibly hilarious special.

His grandfather was a well-known person, but he also makes a point to let the audience know that he was an egoistic man who had a humorous side even when he let his slight arrogance get the best of him. His grandfather made sure that Zakir was always kept grounded no matter how popular he got in the town or the country. As the special is in Hindi, the language makes it easier for the audience to understand the context, time, and situation aptly. His grandfather and his family being the highlights of the special, Zakir does not shy away from talking about how the “desi” families spread the news. Like a Chinese whisper, by the time the news reaches the last person, it is a different version of the actual story. The narrative of the special is straightforward, and it does not digress unnecessarily. Zakir has the quality of bringing back the same point of reference from the beginning of the set to understand the whole context, which makes this special all the funnier and highly watchable. His description of the home where his grandfather lived and the clothes, he wore adds a nostalgic charm to the jokes that he has written.

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As a Muslim from Rajasthan, Zakir takes a dig at how oppressed Muslim women were back in the day when he was a school kid. He humorously adds an anecdote about his grandfather being invited to give an Independence Day speech while everyone else in the family, including the women who were never allowed to take off the burqa, mugged up the speech except his grandfather. The juxtaposition of women of that era talking about independence and Zakir making humor of it is brilliant, for nobody would have been able to write jokes the way Zakir has done on this topic in this special. 

School life and college life are what people cherish the most, and Zakir adds the hilarious bit about him being a brat during both phases of life, especially during his college days. Zakir adds the fact that he chose to be in Delhi because there was literally no one he knew from his family who lived in the city, which is true for most of us while growing up. His life as a writer at AIB, along with how he negotiated his salary while starting a project, shows how self-aware he is, and he is proud of the fact that his nature has helped him reach where he is. His relationship with Tanmay Bhat and his roommate Vishwas was another highlight of the special, which made the audience come to terms with the fact that in life, friendships are the most important thing after family. Zakir does not shy away from the fact that he tried to act like Mr. Know-It-All when he was asked to be the judge at a comedy reality show, which did not end well for him. His demeanor was something he was never proud of throughout that phase, which he accepted like a gentleman.

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Lastly, Zakir’s set takes an emotional turn when he speaks in depth about how he felt when his grandfather passed away. The fact that most of the grudges and complaints he had about him did not have any relevance, for he is no more. The fact that it was unnecessary makes the audience feel the fragility of life, no matter how old or young one is. How his grandfather was proud of what Zakir is despite his issues with his grandson for not picking up any instrument makes one realize the importance of elders in our lives and how we forget they might not be around us for a long time. Making them feel loved and heard is the best thing we could do for them. The fact that the entire village came around to help with his grandfather’s funeral shows that the love strangers carry is so much better than the dislike our family members have for each other. Zakir’s special ends on the note that, as his grandfather believed, artists carry some sort of magic; he realized that as a comedian and celebrity, he carries magic too, and he should not let go of that no matter how famous he gets.

“Tathastu” stays true to the title because, throughout the special, we were waiting to hear these words come out of Zakir’s mouth: that his grandfather’s blessings will always be with him no matter where he is at any point in life, personally or professionally. Giving importance to personal goals is of paramount importance, which makes sense, and he says it in a way that makes us want to call our parents and grandparents right away. In the end, Zakir’s special is a must-watch because he made this an extremely personal set and was vulnerable enough to help us understand a bit of life in general.

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“Tathastu” is an Amazon Special, streaming on the platform with subtitles.

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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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