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Simply Shekhar... and more

He has probably made a career out of imitation. But Shekhar Suman is neither stopping nor stooping. He is simply Shekhar, absolutely unapologetic about imitating popular political leaders. Now making a comeback to films with "Chor Machaaye Shor", heis hopeful of a better innings this time, says RANA A. SIDDIQUI... .

Shekhar Suman... .non-stop show.

IT IS not easy to stop him once he starts speaking. But he speaks sense, for sure. For Shekhar Suman in any case, speech is the credit card livelihood. His garrulous part helped him lap up a role, oops, several roles in one film -- for David Dhawan he was a natural choice for "Chor Machaaye Shor" in which he plays seven characters -- of mother, a pimp, an effeminate, a gunda, a road side Romeo, and others. Doesn't it remind you of "Naya Din Nayi Raat" in which Sanjeev Kumar played nine roles?

In Delhi to announce his comeback to the silver screen this past week, Shekhar Suman in his late forties, in the best of new generation outfit - a lemon colour skin hugging T-shirt and grey jeans, with his gym-honed physique, untiring tongue and all charged up attitude - to meet queries, good or bad. He is quick to point out that it is not David Dhawan whom he chose to make a comeback to films but vice-versa. "David says that he had given me to small screen as a loan which he is taking back," he laughs aloud. "When David narrated me the role, the challenge before me was not how to play all roles but how to keep one character different from the other," he recalls. Though two of Prakash Jha's film "Ganga Jal" on Bhagalpur blinding incident -- opposite Dipti Nawal -- and another film opposite Juhi Chawla on adoption may see big screen soon, but it has not made him bid adieu to television as his "Movers and Shakers" comes to Zee TV as "Simply Shekhar" with some intrinsic changes and a take-off from "Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai" and others.

But it is theatre that he is concentrating on. "Woh Tumhi Ho", adaptation of an English play "It Had to be You" that he staged recently in India and abroad "was overwhelming success," he says. "Topi Shukla" -- "controversial play on a sensuous and sensitive subject of two communities by Rahi Masoom Raza" is his next stage production for which he is "persuading Farookh Sheikh to play the lead."

Back to channels, Shekhar has been charged with showing oft-repeated theme of Laloo Prasad Yadav and Atal Behari Vajpayee. "These national leaders draw populist sentiments and attention. Everybody knows them. If I imitate some Venkatesh who knows them? People don't read much in India so it's no use wasting your time, money, energy and creativity on something people won't relish." He makes it very clear that he does not have any personal vendetta against them but "what people think and say about them. I just extend people's feelings by taking the flak," and he makes it clearer even -- "Jab tak samose main aalo rahega, tab tak Simply Shekhar main Laloo rahega. After all I also hail from Bihar!"

But he laments till date the "choice of bad directors and script writers at the beginning of his career in films. "Utsav was a good film. I was pitted against the top heroine -- Rekha. But after that "Naache Mayuri", "Pati Parmeshawar" and one film "Kharidaar" opposite Sarika in which my role of a pimp projected me in very bad light. All these proved to be a major setback in my career."

And Shekhar is off to his next venture on television with the Chief Minister of Maharastra, Lata Mangeshkar and Anil Kapoor's rare interviews dealing with "their funny sides" to tickle your funny bones. Waiting?

Photo S. Subramanium

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