Cinema

Serious about comedy

Actor Sharafudheen Photo: Special Arrangement

Actor Sharafudheen Photo: Special Arrangement  

It took just one dialogue for him to win over the Malayali audience and already actor Sharafudheen is being hailed as the king of new age comedy in Mollywood. Such was the impact of lovable flirt Girirajan Kozhi and his ‘ Ras al-Khaimahyile aa valiya veedu’ dialogue in Alphonse Putharen’s Premam.

Sharafudheen, however, is no one-trick pony. Beginning with his blink-and-you miss debut in Neram (2013) and in all his handful of releases thus far, the actor has managed to impress with his histrionic skills, however short the role. In his latest release, Ranjith Sankar’s Pretham, too he had the audience in splits for his antics as the co-owner of a resort/meme ‘troller’ scared witless by the resident ghost. Prior to that he all but carried sleeper hit rom-com Happy Wedding on his witty shoulders.

It’s all still sinking in for the actor. “Either I am mad or the audience is off its rockers!” says Sharafudheen, only half- seriously, as he reflects on his “unexpected” success as a comedian, when we catch up with him on the phone, while he and his friend and frequent co-actor Siju Wilson are trying to navigate their way around Kochi – and not very successfully, by the sound of it. “I’m very serious in real life; I always walk around with two guns,” he deadpans in that engaging Aluva accent of his, cracking us all up.

“I never set out to be a comedian. It still puzzles me that people find me funny,” he adds, insisting that it’s all a trick of fate. “I never prepare for my dialogues/scenes and that’s perhaps why they come out right. In fact, all my directors have been brilliant in tapping out the comedian in me. I don’t know if I can keep up the momentum, though; I’m going to buy some books on comedy dialogues to cater to audience expectations, each time I appear on screen!” he adds.

That said the actor seems to have given some thought to his brand of comedy (he calls it “instinctive”). He says he “consciously avoids” slapstick roles.

“It’s not my style. To be honest, I’m a little scared of doing slapstick. I prefer my comedy to be more true to life,” explains the 31-year-old, breaking off to rib Siju about his poor sense of direction.

Sharafudheen grew up in Aluva with stars in his eyes. “Like many Malayali youngsters my age, I too dreamt of being a Mammootty or a Mohanlal,” says the actor, a key member of the local coterie of actors, technicians and musicians who’ve taken Mollywood by storm. It was his friend and schoolmate, actor Krishnashankar, who “re-introduced” him to Alphonse, who in turn gave him a break. “I have known Alphonse since our childhood days. For a long while I used to duck out of sight whenever I saw him. You see, I had lost a bet with him and disappeared without paying up! But we’ve always shared a passion for cinema and that’s what binds all of us friends and why we are all on board together,” says the actor.

After completing his Plus Two, Sharafudheen dabbled around with online courses, worked as a car sales executive and later founded a tourism start-up ‘Seasons India Holidays’ before making his entry into cinema.

“On an Alphonse Putharen set – it’s akin to a war time military camp – everyone is expected to pitch in with everything. Those that don’t are mercilessly targeted. It does, however, make you learn the ropes of filmmaking,” he says, adding that it wasn’t until he acted in Happy Wedding that he was “confident enough” to communicate his feedback. “The success of the film was no fluke. Omar Lulu [director], Siju and I worked really hard on the screenplay and Omar was very open to feedback. For that matter Ranjith ettan too. At the beginning I told him that I had five suggestions and he lent me a ear for all of them. He shot down the first couple of them but was open to the rest of them,” says the actor, who will next be seen in a key role in Welcome to Central Jail, starring Dileep. He’s also acting with Mohanlal ( “a dream accomplished”) in Jibu Jacob’s new film and has signed on for prominent roles in another Dileep-starrer, Jeevi, and Fahadh Faasil’s new film with Rafi too.

On that note, acting, says Sharaf, is but one step in the right direction to fulfilling his dreams. “I want to be a director and dream of directing at least a couple of movies before I snuff out. But I’ll direct only when the time is right and everything is ready to go. The only things I know about my debut film now is that I’ll do it, it’ll not be a comedy and Siju won’t act in it!” he says, with one last guffaw, before signing off.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 11:10:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/Serious-about-comedy/article14586986.ece

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