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Seriously funny

There's more to Shekhar Suman than his witty nature, finds out RADHIKA RAJAMANI

SHEKHAR SUMAN is unstoppable. The master of satire manages to steal the show with his non-stop blah-blah . Shekhar is busy juggling films, theatre, live shows, endorsements and what have you. The latest is a musical album - Kuch Khwab Aise (Universal music) scheduled to release in April.

Kuch Khwab Aise is a blend of songs and recitation a la Shekhar style. "This idea was born because an actor often gets straitjacketed. An actor is not just about saying a line - there's more. The attempt is to rediscover the talent. The album is about some of my dreams - it's all about the philosophy of dreams. All of us need to dream and dream a lot to live because life is dependent on dreams. I am a compulsive dreamer and will go on dreaming because dreams never end, never die," says Shekhar.

Shekhar has just finished a film with Kundan Shah - Ek Se Badhkar Ek with Raveena Tandon and Suniel Shetty. He's floated his own company Daffodils and Dreams for his creative and artistic pursuits. Films, theatre, series and events are part of its agenda. One of the first ventures of the company to be directed by Ravi Rai (the man who did relationship-oriented serials on the tube like Sailaab, Imtihaan and others) will be a sensitive film on a relationship between a father and a son who is terminally ill.

"This is partly autobiographical," says Shekhar. Was it not traumatic going through the past? "Somehow it's like a catharsis - I need to take it out of my system. I have given a lot of inputs and the script and cast is being finalised."

Shekhar wants to make films revolving around relationships and delve into their success and failure. "It's important to look at relationships and we have to value them." Would he work within the mainstream format?

"I would like to keep elements of mainstream and crossover - it has to have an avant-garde feel ." Shekhar is passionate about theatre too. He's started another academy for this purpose - the Silhouette Theatre Academy.

All this talent apart, Shekhar is best known for his `infamous' art - for shaking up people. "I think it's an internal defect somewhere (laughs), a generic fault. I really don't know. I think it's instinctive, intuitive and I just take the right angles and perception of news. You don't have to create humour - you have to just find it. Humour is somehow connected to all of us - the way we live, the way we talk. If it concerns social, political and economic issues then all of us are aware of what's going on in our country and then you strike the right note. Somehow, I think you have to be gifted with that, with a sense of punning and a sense of repartee naturally."

Shekhar's gift of the gab is the winning stroke. Endowed with it in large measure, Shekhar says, "it becomes better over the years - like any other craft with honing I think I am a better actor now than I was ten years ago as I have picked up the finer nuances of acting.

Similarly when I do my `stand-up act' I don't do it as an anchor, I do it as an actor because I have to play so many characters in it. I act out the show with the right sense of timing and expression. When I satirise a thing I am talking about the real issues, I am not making up news. So when the laughter dies down what you are left with are the real issues." Shekhar is equally serious about such an effort. "This is - my duty towards my social responsibility."

Shekhar acknowledges his inspiration (for Movers and Shakers) to R.K. Laxman. "I dedicate it to him because I think he is one of the greatest cartoonists and thinkers ever born on planet earth. He is fabulous with his one liners. I just thought of giving his common man a voice. That was how the whole idea was born. The whole concept was to be the common man and connect with the common man."

Shekhar's strong point is contemporary political satire, a lot of which is impromptu. And how does he do it? "As I went along I got better. There is no agenda, no hard and fast rules I follow. I go for it instinctively. Most of them are political caricatures - I have to just unmask them and show them in true light. I study them, I watch their mannerisms, and how dramatic they can be throwing caution to the wind, their innuendos, insinuations, and not meaning what they are talking about.

For me it's second nature when I talk about them or lampoon them because I understand them. As an actor, it is my duty to understand characters and get into their skin. All the observations get stored in the recesses of my mind ."

How's the real Shekhar? "The real Shekhar is as much human as anyone else. I am given to my moods and tantrums - I can be short tempered, foul-mouthed or obnoxious. There are times when I don't like myself. In a way doing something like this is a self-lesson. When you lose your temper you lose your mind and your focus. I react to situations immediately in much the same way I do in my show."

With his brand of humour one would perhaps only say, Carry on Shekhar!

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