S inger, mimicry artiste, actor, television anchor, composer, lyricist, stage show director, filmmaker… Nadhirshah wears many hats at a time. The artiste who unleashed a trend in comedy with his audio cassette series, ‘Onathinidakku Puttukachavadam’ and ‘De Maveli Kombathu’, also anchored many a successful programme on the small screen. At present, he anchors ‘Star Ragging’, a talk show on Kairali TV. Produced by Honey Thathappilly, it is aired on Fridays at 9.30 p.m. Excerpts from an interview with Nadhirshah…
On ‘Star Ragging’
It is a kind of verbal ‘ragging’. The celebrity guest has to answer questions that are not often put to stars. I share a good relationship with all the artistes in the Malayalam film industry and it is that friendship that helps me host such a show.
Of course, there is humour and the guests are warned in advance that they can expect some really ‘dangerous’ questions about their life or profession.
I’ve conceptualised the show. In fact, a couple of years ago I did a ‘Star Ragging’ interview with Dileep for a channel and that was a huge hit. I’m happy that Kairali TV accepted my concept because I’ve had some really bad experiences with a couple of channels a few years ago. I would approach them with new shows, but would be turned down and, later, I would find the same concept appearing on the channel under someone else’s name!
We started off with Kalabhavan Mani. Next on the list are Salim Kumar, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Kottayam Nazeer, Dileep, Harisree Ashokan, Jayaram, Suresh Gopi …
I’m happy that I could initiate trends that highlighted comedy. In 1988, my first cassette of parody songs was released. In the meantime, I was asked to write songs related to Onam. But I couldn’t think straight and thus was born the first in the three-part series of ‘Onathinidakku Puttukachavadam’. Then came the ‘De Maveli Kombathu’ series that ran for 18 years. Breaking the myth of Mahabali was a huge risk that I took. But, till now we haven’t made fun of Mahabali. It is the system and society that have been at the receiving end. When Manoj Knight Syamalan’s Sixth Sense was released, we came out with the cassette, ‘Aminathaathayum 41 Mimicrykkarum’, which rekindled memories of the late Jayan. The dialogues went on to become a rage and many emulated us. Another work that clicked was Kalabhavan Mani’s folk songs that we had included in one of our cassettes.
My career in television took off with ‘Comicola’, the comedy series on Asianet, which also was a breakthrough for Dileep and Harisree Ashokan. I established myself as an anchor and a singer with the music show, ‘Sa re ga ma’, on Asianet. The phone-in programme ‘Dum dum dum pee pee pee’ on Kairali was a milestone as well.
Although I am not a trained musician, I was a regular at the school youth festivals and had won first prize in Kathakali sangeetham at the state-level in 1982. From a singer on the ‘ganamela’ circuit, I moved to mimicry to support my family since my father was unwell. When he passed away, I got his job. Since I had night shift and was alone in that section, I chose to write parody songs to ward off my fear of the dark! Those songs mainly made fun of my friends. Then came anchoring, acting in ‘Manathe Kottaram’, music direction ( Meenakshy Kalyanam ), and writing lyrics (like the song ‘Makkasayi’ from Vettam and ‘Panchayathile’ from Pandippada). Now, I’m directing stage shows and have worked with almost all the actors of Mollywood. Direction is next on the list.