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Jagathy on Jagathy Sreekumar

AMBIKA VARMA

Jagathy Sreekumar opens his mind on his long innings in the Malayalam film industry.


In Malayalam industry too, we have very good artistes such as Sukumari and KPAC Lalitha, who can handle any kind of role with ease.



VERSATILITY HIS FORTE: Jagathy Sreekumar has acted in more than 1,000 films. Photo: S. GOPAKUMAR

Jagathy Sreekumar's versatility and excellent comic timing sets him apart from others of his ilk.

And his prodigious talent came to the fore at a very young age. Jagathy (as he is popularly known as) was a Class V student at Model School in Thiruvananthapuram when he first got the opportunity to act in a play. That was just the beginning. By the time he joined Mar Ivanios College, he had become an experienced theatre person.

However, it was while working as a medical representative in Madras that he chanced upon the role of a comedian in `Chattambi Kalyani.' His work in the film earned him recognition and the rest, as they say, is history. The actor has essayed many a memorable role. With 1,070-odd Malayalam films to his credit, he is reckoned as one of the best actors in the industry.

The actor speaks about ...

On acting with three generations of artistes

I have worked with Nazir, Madhu, Sudheer. Then with Jayan, Soman, Mohanlal, Mammootty, Mukesh and Suresh Gopi. Now, I am working with Dilip, Manoj K. Jayan, Kunchacko Boban and Prithviraj. Where technology and money are concerned, we are 50 years ahead, but where the quality of films is concerned, we lag behind.We no longer make quality films and this dissuades the audience from visiting the theatres. But we have advanced considerably in terms of technology. The artistes today are very professional.

On hero roles

Doing comedy is tough.A comedian should be versatile, while a hero needs an attractive face too. I don't regret being typecast as a comedian. A comedian is like a dictionary. Although a dictionary is valuable than any other book, no one reads it on a daily basis. Only on occasions do people refer to a dictionary. But everyone knows its worth.

On awards

I do my job properly, not expecting anything in return. I act as per the instructions of the director, which is my job. Awards are just a bonus. And there is nothing called `award acting,' that is acting with an eye on an award.

After Jagathy, who next?

It is not up to me to select my successor. We have many promising actors such as Harisree Asokan, Kalabhavan Mani and Salim Kumar in the field. An actor, whether a hero or comedian, should have a body and face that can suit any role. By God's grace, I have such a physique. .

Comediennes he likes

I have always had a liking and respect for Manorama. I find her versatility amazing. In Malayalam industry too, we have very good artistes such as Sukumari and KPAC Lalitha, who can handle any kind of role with ease. I find Kalpana very promising. She has a fair amount of humour in her.

Films in other languages

I have never acted in any other language. I have to first finish my commitments here. If I act in any other language, dubbing will be a problem. I don't want anyone else to dub for me. It will spoil the whole effect. This is especially true of comedy roles. When I can emote and speak in Malayalam films, why go elsewhere?

Small-screen venture

Television is a new medium and a powerful one at that. I wanted to know more about it and make my contribution to it. This is the reason why I ventured into making serials. `Ellam mayajalam' comprises small stories of 35 to 40 episodes, each conveying a moral. Each story has a different set of actors and director to get rid of the monotony a mega-serial might give rise to. I have used this medium to show topical and serious subjects in a humorous way.

Father-son bond

My father was my strength. He used to take me to movies and bring home scripts of plays for me to read. Being in All India Radio, my father had contacts with stalwarts in this field. He created many opportunities for me to interact with them. This helped me in my career. But I can't say I have done the same for my children. I have created a viable atmosphere for them to pursue their interests. I let them select their subjects and help them work at it.

New projects

Work on `Udayon,' in which Mohanlal has a double role, is being wrapped up. I am also working in K. Madhu's sequel to `CBI Diarykurippu,' and an unnamed film by Joshi. I have allotted 10 days a month for my serial and the rest for films. This way, I keep myself busy. I make it a point never to say no to films. .

Family

My wife, Sobha, is a homemaker. My son is a bank employee and my daughter, Parvathi, is doing her second year Law. My children are not interested in doing films, at least for the time being.

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