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Updated: February 15, 2014 18:19 IST

Laughter all the way

Udhav Naig
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Comedy actor Soori with actor Jayam Ravi
Comedy actor Soori with actor Jayam Ravi

With five big hits last year and a packed calendar this year, actor Soori is all set to reach a new career high

For someone who is tipped to be the next happening comedian in Tamil cinema, actor Soori is very nervous. Sitting in his office under the portraits of N.S. Krishnan and Woody Allen, Soori gives no expression to the suggestion that he is likely take over from Santhanam. “I am a bit scared to be compared to a very senior and successful artiste, but that shows that the public likes my work.”

It’s true that he hasn’t looked back since making a mark in Suseendran’s Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu. Last year, he was part of five super hits. This year has started well as he was featured alongside actor Vijay in Jilla, and is likely to have at least one release every month.

Did he always want to be the funny man? “Whatever recognition I have gained so far is because of comedy. I grew up with a father who was known as the funniest man in my village. Before getting an opportunity to act in movies, I wrote and performed six stage plays along with my friends; the plays were often spoken about for their comedy. But, ideally, I don’t want to confine myself to comedy, and would like to have a career like the great Nagesh.”

Like all celebrated funny men, Soori derives his inspiration from people he has met in his life. Ask him how much credit he gives himself when his comedy works, he says, “A comedian is simply a composite of quirky specimens we come across every now and then. Haven’t we met the odd man at a funeral who would say things that would crack everyone up? I pick up stuff from such people. I don’t think any comedian can seriously claim to create comedy out of nothing, all by himself.”

Soori, of course, specialises in retort-based comedy where the last word usually belongs to him. He says this brand of comedy requires unbridled freedom to experiment, in order to succeed. “I tend to change and add my lines spontaneously. You can’t write lines on a sheet of paper and stick to it,” he says.

This method of improvising on-the-spot worked spectacularly when he collaborated with television-anchor-turned-actor Sivakarthikeyan. “Sivakarthikeyan and I have this habit of spontaneously improvising and matching each others’ wit when we are in front the camera. There have been several instances where other actors in the scene have complained that they don’t know what to do.”

Does he ever want to try message-heavy comedy that has worked so well for actors such as Vivek? “First of all, I have not reached a position where my social message will be taken seriously by people,” he chuckles. “Also, I strongly believe that people have moved on from karuthu-laden comedy. They get their dose of socially progressive messages from other sources.”

In an industry where heroes are worshipped, does he ever feel he is just an unimportant sidekick? “No,” he says emphatically. “The mainstream protagonist is often a good-looking, well-built, charming, lover boy wearing fancy clothes. He is the fantasy object of the audience. They readily identify more with the funny sidekick because he is more believable.”

Soori will apparently be seen as an IT-professional in Nimirndhu Nil, which stars Jayam Ravi and Amala Paul. “Hopefully I can convince people that I can pull off an urban role as well,” he says.

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