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Is it a norm that people now have to do stage and be a stand up comedian to enter films as a comedian?
No. I've always been an actor more than an anchor or a stand up comedian. The first show I did on television was 'Main Bhi Detective' where we were meant to act like slippers, knives, iron boxes, rooms, etc. It was a weird experience. But when I joined ETC, I was made to interview a few celebrities which was boring. So, I started taking different get-ups of stars and took on one character in each episode. It came across very well and that was my calling. I realized that I've got this ability to go into the skin of the character. If somebody were to open up my brain, they would find a bit of Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Sachin Tendulkar and many more. There are many things, which go into the mind of an actor, and my mind is clustered with lot of things.
After a hectic day when you want to watch a light and entertaining program, you have to tune into any of the Suresh Menon shows. And it's not only TV but you're now seen more often in films too. How do you manage so many shows and yet be a part of a few films?
That's been a beauty because I just love doing comedy. I try and adjust my dates and then myself (laughs). Believe me, it's sometimes very tough. There have been nights where I've not slept for continuously four to five days at a stretch. From 9 am to 9 pm I'm somewhere shooting. Then from 9 pm to 9 am the other day I'm doing another show or a film. I go home, have a shower, and rush straight back to the shoot. I love what I am doing and thus never get tired. Sometimes I've performed my best shot because of my lack of sleep. When you enjoy what you're doing, you put in more hours in the office and that's been a blessing for me.
Boman Irani once said, "It's time that our Hindi Film Industry realized the true potential of actors like Ranvir Shorey." I think the same applies to you too. But why realize the potential now? Why not five to six years ago? Where was the Hindi Film Industry then?
I'm not saying that we haven't done good work five or six years ago. But the fact is that in the last five years television and cinema viewing has changed unbelievably. People are willing to experiment with films like Bheja Fry and Mithya and shows like 'The Great Indian Comedy' show based on the lines of 'Saturday Night Live'. So things fell into place and that became such a good place to be in. I've myself experimented with a lot of characters in that particular show. But my best reason for all this happening now is that everything happens at the right time. You may be Mr. Bachchan or Shahrukh Khan or anybody but its only when God decides that this is their time to be on the top. What timing! (laughs)
Brief us through your filmy career.
I started my filmy career with Priyadarshan and Yash Chopra films, Kabhi Na Kabhi, Doli Saja Ke Rakhna and Dil To Pagal Hai. Then I did Badhai Ho Badhai for which I was nominated as the Best comedian at the Zee Cine Awards. I also enjoyed doing Deewane Huye Paagal. There were many more films but now comes the mother of all films. Krazzy 4, my first film as a lead actor after 14 years. That's an achievement (laughs)
Let's talk about the crazy Suresh Menon of Krazzy 4.
My role is of a mentally challenged person who can't talk because of his insecurities and fears. He is like a guy who can and can't communicate and Arshad Warsi is the guy who looks after him. All the four men are shown as a bunch of crazy lunatics. They pose a question to the audience if it is the audience who is mad or is it that all four are actually mad.
It must be peanuts for you to enact the role of a mentally challenged person with such precision and ease. Isn't it?
Yes. Rakesh Roshan told me that he didn't want me to do a caricature of a mentally challenged man. He wanted a normal person who has got this problem and that's why he doesn't talk. I understood what he meant. So I started making weird faces what other mentally challenged person don't do. That was the best part. Ultimately, I thought of myself as a cute crazy character. Actually, I started questioning myself that how I can look so cute (laughs). There is something wrong, as the team must have used some special effects (laughs).
What expectations have you got from Krazzy 4?
All four of us, Irrfan, Arshad, Rajpal Yadav and myself have batted really well. Now it is up to the audience how they bat with us. I hope they don't hit us with the same bat (laughs). After all, Life is cricket in India as we say.
Many celebrities have quit TV for cinema. You've maintained the balance between the two. Is it right in saying that you should have a spare wheel in your car?
Absolutely (laughs). I am a television boy. I love television and there is no question about me quitting that medium. Even as we speak right now, I am seriously trying to follow one ambition of mine that is to set up a 24-hour comedy channel in our country. That's something I need to do and have to do. Films will come. I'm not denying that. I am in a good situation right now. I don't have to do films because it's my bread and butter. I do films because I meet good people and work with good people. My motto in life is that when you're working, you must also enjoy. If you can't enjoy then better not work or quit your job.
What comes to your mind when I take the names of Ranvir Shorey, Vinay Pathak, and Raju Srivastav?
Ranvir Shorey, after Mithya, has raised a bar for actors...and thankfully, I'm not one of them (laughs). SRK, Salman, Saif, etc all have to be careful now. Vinay has already proved himself after doing Bheja Fry. Raju Srivastav is the best stand up comedian India has ever produced. He has got the pulse of rural and urban India. He is always a good laugh when Gajodhar comes to a high society party. All the names you've mentioned can be described as geniuses.
What about Akshay Kumar? Do you rate him as one of the best comic actors?
Akshay has done so much comedy along with Paresh Rawal that he is now an expert in his timings and sense of humor. He has really come a long way. But Akki will always be stuck with an image of a hero. He must be thinking that I'm a star, how much more comedy will I do (laughs). Watch out for Akshay Kumar's releases next year. He'll have much better releases.
Name six comedy films you can watch again and again.
Padosan, Golmaal, Bombay to Goa, Andaz Apna Apna, Bheja Fry, and Dhamaal. But for some reason I also like Sunday. That makes it seven.
Name your favorite comic actors.
Mehmood-saab, Johnny Walker, Paresh Rawal, Rajpal Yadav and not to forget, Johnny Lever. But you will be surprised to know that it was Amitabh Bachchan who started the trend of humorous comedy in Amar Akbar Anthony just like what Ranvir, Vinay and Akshay Kumar do in their films now-a-days.
Why should one go and watch Krazzy 4?
Firstly, because I will get a lot of work after the film releases (laughs). All four of us have done an honest job including the director. It's an out an out comedy film and I bet people will enjoy it. You have to be crazy to watch it.
Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
Can't say about the next few years but when I will be 65, I will definitely be in some asylum or a mental hospital where people will be looking at me and saying - Hey, this is the same mad man from television and films who finally is in the right place at the wrong time (laughs).
Before we part, could you share us two of your favorite jokes?
There is one joke, which I always tell everybody and that is - My wife likes reading a lot of books (laughs). And the second one is not a joke but after doing a lot of scientific research, I came to a conclusion that in a marriage procession when I see the 'Dulha's' friends dancing in front of the 'ghodi', 99% of them are married men and they dance to welcome the 'Dulha' in their company of misery.