“Comedy is all about timing,” says Praseetha Menon. She was one of the first female mimicry artistes in Malayalam who imitated male actors with élan and made a place of her own in the male dominated world of mimicry shows in Kerala. An actress who has had fruitful runs in cinema and television, she is at peace with her current outing in television and cinema, that too when she is busy as a lawyer. She is currently seen in ‘Badayi Bungalow’, a comedy on Asianet. Excerpts from an interview with the actress:
(Laughs) It is fun to be on the show. I am back with Diana [Diana Sylvester, the producer of the show] after a long time. We worked together in ‘Cinemala’ when she launched it and it feels really good to be working with her again. It is modelled on the show ‘Comedy Nights With Kapil’ on Colors channel. The team stages skits for an invited audience and Mukesh, the permanent guest. We also have celebrities coming in for interviews or to promote movies. I play Ramesh Pisharody’s aunt who is well past the marriageable age but is desperately seeking a partner. It has been quite a physically exhausting role because I have danced, sung and done many other things which I have not done before! All said and done, the success of the show rests with the whole team.
Tryst with movies and television
It was quite accidental. My exposure to tinsel town was through actress Karthika, a relative. I was in Nigeria where my father worked for a shipping company as a lawyer till my class six. Then we shifted to Kochi. While in Kochi, Karthika took us all to the sets of her movie Neeyethra Dhanya at Navodaya Studio. It was an unforgettable experience. My family has been close to Seven Arts International production house and it was through them that I got my first role in Moonam Mura.
I played the sister or daughter in most of my movies. But then, I never ever wished to play a heroine. So there was no question of feeling unhappy about it. It is true that an actor should be versatile and I did get my share of good roles in films such as Pathram, Puthukkottayile Puthumanavalan and Mazhayethum Munpe. I am happy that I am still around. Last year I did four movies – Chettayees, Rebecca Uthup Kizhakke Mala, Crocodile Love Story, in which I played a mother’s role for the first time, and Idukki Gold. I will be starting four new movies next month.
I have not done many serials. My first work was ‘Mohapakshikal’ on Doordarshan. The role that fetched me immense recognition was Gladis Fernandez in Asianet’s ‘Sthree’. ‘Star Trek’, ‘Playback’ and ‘Comedy Show’ were some of the programmes I did for the channel.
As a mimicry artiste
I think the flair for mimicry developed over the years. Whenever there was a break on the set of a movie, I would mimic someone and it was appreciated. Many of them were surprised that I was imitating male actors. My first public performance was at an event to celebrate the success of the movie Vaishali. Luckily for me, Prem Nazir happened to watch and enjoy my act when I imitated his voice. Suresh Gopi, Mukesh and Mammootty were the other actors I imitated. Nobody taught me acting and mimicry and my school was the great artistes I worked with. Although many troupes invited me to join them, I did not because academics was my priority. It is just that I enjoyed doing mimicry and comedy. However, after a point I decided to take a break from mimicry because it was affecting my performance as an actress, especially while dubbing.
On comedy shows
There is an overdose of comedy. And, except a few, most of them show the same old stuff. I feel that these days politicians are ridiculed the most, unlike the past.
I have started a production house, PRG Creations. Our first production and my directorial debut, Janani, a short film with Kukku Parameswaran in the lead, will come out next month. We are planning to make commercial films and theatre productions.