S. Ve. SHEKHER AND URVASHI HAVE A HEARTY LAUGH
`It's not easy to be a comedian'
To be a comedian, it is important to be able to laugh at oneself - Shekher
Their association goes back to over 15 years. Even though they have starred opposite each other in only five or six films (their first film "Oorukku Upadesam" ran for 100 days), the camaraderie was evident when S.Ve. Shekher and "Take It Easy" Urvashi came together for Take Two at Park Sheraton.
Savitha Gautam recorded the tête-à-tête.
Shekher: Remember the first time we met?
Urvashi: Yes, in 1985 or 1986. I remember I was led to your make-up room for an introduction. I said "Shekherji namaste." And then you said, "I hear you addressing everybody with the suffix `ji'... Baluji, Shekherji and so on. How will you address Cho (read "So" in Tamil)?"
Shekher: And then I asked you, "How will you address Rajaji... Rajajiji!"
(Both burst out laughing)
Urvashi: Shekherji (with a laugh), even before I met you, I knew of your plays. At home, we used to listen to your drama cassettes regularly. And when we had guests, we would play the cassettes to them, no matter if they understood Tamil or not.
In fact, my brother would translate the plays. Seriously, why is theatre not receiving that kind of following today?
Shekher: Well, let me explain. I think Chennai was the only city in the country that had a readymade audience for theatre. If a sabha had 1,000 seats, it had 800 committed members, who paid an annual subscription and got to watch plays or listen to music. When television came, the subscription fee went towards paying instalments for the TV set!
Also, stage plays shifted to TV and people got to watch the same plays, same artistes and same writers, just sitting at home.
Another reason, I would think, is many used theatre as a stepping-stone to Kodambakkam. So...
Urvashi: It is sad...
Shekher: I remember one of my fans telling me, "My son can sleep only after listening to your plays." My response was "So, my plays put him to sleep!" (laughs). Tell me Urvashi, you have made a smooth transition from cinema to television. In fact, when I watched an episode of "Take it Easy," I could see the effort you had put in. And I think there are very few women who have successfully played a male character. You are just excellent in the male role...
Urvashi: Because of my efforts to alter my voice, it sounds masculine at times.
Shekher: (laughs) That's fine. You can become both husband and wife specially while answering phone calls! (imitates female and male voices).
Urvashi: You too sound convincing!
Shekher: You are a great performer. For me, the accent is on content. Anyway, do you remember the films we worked in? In fact, most of them were huge hits... Ramanarayan's "Vengaiyin Maindhan," "Panam Pathum Seiyum" and more recently "Tirupathi Ezhumalai Venkatesa..."
Urvashi: I think a plus point for you is that you have more number of hits than some heroes of big budget films. See films like "Poove Poochudava"...
Shekher: It's a role many heroes refused. Faazil finally asked me and I agreed. My only condition was I would not smoke or drink... Of the 90-odd films I have acted in, nearly 80 were hits!
Urvashi: I think comedians are lucky for, as artistes, they achieve a high level of success and even after 20 years, they can still act and make it work.
Shekher: I think being a comedian is a tough job.
Urvashi: I agree. We have to deliver a dialogue that's funny without laughing, and also get the right expression... Anyway, Shekherji, I have always wanted to ask you. How did you get into films?
Shekher: I never approached anybody for a role. It was Balachander Sir who offered me a role.
Talking about roles, I feel any role should suit me fine. In "Jeans," I played Aishwarya Rai's father. Everybody said with envy, "So lucky." And I asked "Who? Aishwarya Rai?" (smiles). Anyway, after that film, I was offered many father roles, which I declined.
I think my voice is not suitable for such roles. Father roles will continue to come. It's only the son roles that I can't let go of!
Urvashi: I too have the same problem. I am now working with K. Vishwanath in a Telugu film, where a mature voice is needed. My shrill voice can be a problem...
Shekher: I think your asset is your voice, Urvashi.
Urvashi: Thank you. Shekherji, when I think about it I realise that those who do comedy are able to manage difficult situations much better than others.
And I think superstars are what they are thanks to humorous roles... Charlie Chaplin, Amitabh Bachchan, Rajnikanth, Kamal Hassan... they excel in funny situations.
Shekher: To be a comedian, it is important to be able to laugh at oneself.
Urvashi: Yes. If I can laugh at myself, then I can surely make others laugh too. In fact, laughter is one emotion that is peculiar to man.
You can never make an animal laugh. I have a parrot at home. It can only repeat "He he he..." And to think laughter therapy is a popular form of exercise these days!
And on that note the two artistes take leave of each other, hoping to come together for yet another comic venture.
Send this article to Friends by