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Being Cyrus Broacha

Cyrus Broacha talks non-stop on subjects close to his heart as SARASWATHY NAGARAJAN listens

PHOTO: S. SUBRAMANIUM

NO KIDDING Cyrus Broacha unplugged

The `Baap of Bakra,' Cyrus Broacha, made a quick trip to the city and, surprisingly for him, left quietly. Only techies of US Technology were treated to his pun-a-minute conversation and stock of gags.

After his hectic session at Techopark, Cyrus settled down to talk non-stop on Bakra, MTV, books, politics, theatre, film stars...

The star VJ of MTV tells you without a shred of false modesty, that he is pleased with the success of Bakra and the way it has been cloned in various regional channels.

"Did you know that the show is produced by Sajeeth from Kozhikode? Whenever the regional avatars of Bakra are mentioned, I tell them that we have branched off and are now shooting in many languages. Added publicity for the show and the channel," he says in one breath.

Expanding the show

He adds that after `Baap of Bakra,' instead of a `Dada of Bakra,' the producers are planning to take the show to Africa and South Asia.

"The new version of Bakra will be longer and whackier, where we take on some of the big shots. The gag will perhaps last a day or more. Instead of the aam janata, we might take on bigger guns, say in the corporate or film world. The idea is to puzzle, embarrass, confuse, amuse and entertain," he reels off without a stop.

However, he says that many episodes of Bakra, where stars had been made the scapegoat, had to be held back as the actors felt it would affect their image.

"As the host I have to use my head; there are a lot of variables and anything can go wrong. So you have to be quick on the take," says Cyrus who joined MTV in 1996 and gave it an Indian address.

"If the television revolution had not happened, I would have probably been in the ad world, dabbling in theatre, discussing plays and holding a nine-to-five job. I enjoy what I am doing now. At the end of the day, I know that I make my living by dressing up, fooling around, playing pranks and giving people a good time. I am enjoying this ride," says Cyrus who made his debut on stage at the age of 14. Although he studied theatre at Lee Strassburg Acting Studio in New York, Cyrus gravitated towards television.

Without mincing words he explains, "Theatre does not pay. One has to be practical. I am not saying one is better than the other. But unless you are wealthy, you cannot afford to act or direct one play and remain unemployed the rest of the time. I am 34 and know no other job and I have a family to look after."

Married to Ayesha, a photographer, the couple have a son Mikhaail and a second Cyrus junior is due on January 28.

Admirer of Gorbachev

"I was named after the great emperor Cyrus as my father, Farokh Broacha, is a great admirer of the Persian emperor. Continuing the tradition, I have named my son after Mikhail Gorbachev, someone whom I admire. He gave his people freedom. But I feel he was too hasty in his attempt to liberalise the economy. Like China, the process should have been gradual," feels the political science graduate, an alumnus of St. Xavier's College, Mumbai.

Talk politics and there is no stopping him as he tears his hair at the levels of illiteracy in India and the population explosion.

With a straight face he says, "On January 28, I am going for a vasectomy. I wanted to adopt a child but my wife was against it. Since, I was brought up in a matriarchal family, (in fact, my mother, Oliva, used to beat me with a slipper), I am afraid of women and so I had to give up the idea of adoption."

He also raves and rants at the "shocking levels of ignorance" he comes across in the course of his work.

"For instance, anyone with a pretty face or good body thinks she/he can make it as an actor. So, they pack their bags and land in Mumbai. They would not have read a single play or book on theatre or cinema. All they want is to become an actor."

What makes him sentimental?

"I am not a very emotional or sentimental person. But I was moved when I visited a village in Tamil Nadu after the tsunami. It was a UNICEF project and the plight of the children made me very upset."

When it comes to the many social issues that he supports, including a charity for stray dogs, he prefers to let his action speak louder than his words. That goes for his work for the prevention of AIDS and his `Rock the Vote,' campaign, which exhorted youngsters to vote.

But the man who is never at a loss for words has a secret desire. "To be not Mr. Friendly all the time. When I am walking my dog, for instance, I would like to be alone and left alone without having to make polite conversation with complete strangers. I need my private space."

Short takes

What makes him angry?

People who are not punctual.

What irritates him?

People who have no opinions on anything.

What makes him sad?

Certain places in India that were great centres of learning in history have almost fallen off the map.

Insular people who are stuck in a time warp of caste, region or religion.

If you were not a VJ?

I would have become a cricket commentator. In fact, I may do that after a few years.

Leisure

Reading biographies and walking my dog. Now, I am reading on Timur and his exploits.

Favourite interviews

Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Dileep Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan... I am waiting to interview Mohanlal and Mammootty.

Authors

Oscar Wilde, Woody Allen...

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