Jest a career
Actor Satish Shah talks on his career spanning almost 25 years and his new role as the judge of a reality show
Photo Rajeev Bhatt
Game for new roles Satish Shah will judge the reality show ‘Comedy Circus’
“I am not a television buff.” A tad tired after a spate of interviews,Satish Shah asks the PR person in Marathi, “How many more?” He waves aside the idea of a break, dismisses the offer of an orange juice and ge
ars up for another round of queries, the sparkle almost never leaving his eyes. Then Shah springs a surprise. “I have not watched a single soap, not even Bold and Beautiful.”
The veteran actor was in New Delhi for the announcement of the reality show Comedy Circus on Sony Entertainment Television. After almost 25 years on the small screen, he was crowned the ‘King of Comedy’ by television pun
dits. In the early 80s, Shah made us laugh at the ‘everyday-ness’ of life with Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi.
As the Indian middle class spent prime-time cracking up with laughter, mini-screen revolution stepped in. Clean comedies made way to the vamp-versus-victim showdown.
And Shah drifted towards watching the games of the animal world on Discovery and Animal Planet.
A soothing presence
“May be it’s my loss. The new genre and new stars are unknown to me,” he says. Shah has not been keeping track. He cannot evaluate the evolution of the medium, he says candidly.
An actor trapped in the comedy warp, Shah is a soothing presence in both television and films.
Only a handful of serials in almost quarter of a century is an indication that meaningful roles were hard to come by. “After Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi I was offered the same kind of roles,” he recollects.
“I felt like a commodity. It hurt my ego. I was not a rich man and it was difficult to abstain. But I did,” says Shah.
It was probably the right move. When most television stars are fading memory, Shah is not. He is remembered for his easy charm, effortless body language and exquisite comic timing. His comedy made you break into a smile for it never went overboard. “Comedy is about keeping the parameters of dignity,” he believes.
“I never had a style, so no one imitates me. I was just being natural,” says Shah, a streak that helped him in mainstream Hindi movies too. The high-point of his film career was being the ‘dead body’ in Jaane Bhi
Do Yaaron, again a good 25 years ago.
There was never a drought of films, but he was mostly an endearing presence giving a few light moments. But Shah made those roles memorable with the subtle nuances he gave them – be it Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge or the ̵
6;Gujju’ father in Kal Ho Na Ho. Movies being a different ball game, Shah accepted whatever came his way. “There are actors who lost out as they thought they were being typecast. They refused roles and vanished. I thought i
t was the wrong thing to do.” Though he has gone with the tide so far, Shah still nurtures the desire to show he is versatile. His hope lies in the new breed of Indian directors – young, ambitious and game for experiments.
“The new filmmakers are open to suggestions and have a distinct outlook towards cinema. I want to work with them and be part of their success,” he says with optimism.
Attempting new roles is a challenge for this actor. Shah will soon appear as the judge in Comedy Circus along with Archana Puran Singh.
“I know participants will have many things running at the back of their minds. I will go about it in an impartial and just manner,” he winds up.
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