by Simren Deep Kaur
You have been involved in the scene for almost 24 years, where did you start off and when was your break?
I started off as a stage actor. I always dreamt to be an actor since small. But eventually I started off as AMR. As I was in my last year of high school, I gathered 2 other friends and kicked off a SPM comedy group called Trimurthy. And I clearly remember our first payment which was RM50. Mr. Selvaratnam from SPM comedy group was my comedy guru. Not to forget at this point, Selvarajah anne whom introduced me into the commercial industry.
My first break in the scene was when I hosted Ithu Ungal Neram I was the first comedian to be a host in an Astro program and this was during the 2005 to 2006 when every household in the country were starting to subscribe Astro massively nationwide. Over a period of time, many started branding me as Malaysia Chandrababu and Chandrababu is actually my inspiration. I was glad to be able to continue a small fraction of Chandrababu’s aspiration to make others laugh.
What experiences prepared you to be in your position today?
4,500 castings. Yes. 4,500 castings over the period of 24 years is the reason why I am in my position today. Till today I still go for casting for any project. Many people have ridiculed me on why do I need to go for castings. But at the same time they can’t even differentiate casting and audition.
See, no matter how many years of experience you have in a job field, when you apply for a job, you still have to go for a job interview right? And at this point I have to agree that we need to constantly evolve ourselves and Stage Drama Director Mr. Mannuel kept guiding me which led to the enhancement of my performance.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
I wouldn’t say any particular points or incidents that reflects on my job being challenging. Every job has its own challenges. Don’t you agree? But it took me a little time to actually read the market. I wanted to know what has not been done. The very first commercial I acted was in Roti Man & Susu Man for Malaysian Idol alongside Gusion Lal whom has been a senior in this field. And as I looked into the market, there weren’t any Tamil commercial actors with the body language and reactions of a Tamil personality. I wanted to seize that vacuum and it was challenging but here I am.
How do you get the opportunity? Do you buy them?
My biggest two problem is that I don’t know how to carry others weight and I don’t know how to lie. As said earlier it is all based on casting. Hence I don’t see a reason to buy any opportunity.
Did you carry ones weight or built your own stage?
There is already no one to carry me in this scene, whom else am I going to carry? I built my own stage. I had to build my own stage because no one was far sighted to establish a proper platform for comedians in Malaysia.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on a surprise and a Merdeka Ad that is set to be released soon.
What is the big hindrance in this Malaysian Tamil Entertainment Scene?
This scene has a big issue that is stereotyping. I don’t know why this current generation don’t want to break it or challenge the idea. A role of an artist is usually prefixed which I feel is not necessary. We are not having varieties in characters and its performers.
The other issue is we don’t have script that creates the characters irrespective of movies or dramas. For instance movies like Naadodigal, the script created the characters and that is why the actors that were needed for this movie were new and raw and fit the roles perfectly.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
I don’t want to be just a comedian but I would like to be a character artist. I don’t want to simply fade away. I also want to direct a dark comedy film and create a new batch of comedians. A lot of newcomers feel that doing mimicry it considered comedy which I totally refute.
Why there isn’t any comedy stage shows like Comedy Court in this scene?
The audience is not able to identify who are the local comedians. The other issue is, there are many varieties of comedies and our audience don’t know the difference. There are slapsticks, serious comedy, dark comedy, and etc. and many don’t know the difference. I feel that the Indian community is living in the Vadivelu template and they expect us to do the same thing. The other issue is that we are not getting sponsorship to do stage plays. The audience is prone to movies only. We have shifted from sitcom to web series comedy now.
Have the Malaysian Indian Entertainment mistreated you?
Comedians are not being able to get platform because we are not heroes. In the Tamil scene, comedians are forever jokers. Do you know how shameful at times I feel when audiences as me to perform a joke when they greet me? The audience still can’t differentiate standup comedy and acting comedy. The audience too tend to compare comedians with Kollywood ones like Vadivelu and Santhanam which they should not and the audience should also start educating themselves.
There has also been instances where big heroines in the Indian Scene refused to act with me because I didn’t have the looks. They felt I hand Chandrababus looks.
What culture would you bring into the scene if you are given an opportunity to do so?
It is not a would but I want everyone to start practicing it now itself. Please go for casting. Make it compulsory. No matter how many films a person has acted, please go for casting. It will motivate the next generation to do the same and there will be a system in place.
Recently I saw you being recognized as Tamil Commercial King (TCK) and after doing a background check on it we realized it was a genuine recognition. How did you feel about it?
I was humbled by the recognition but I kept saying to the recognizers that I have a long way to go but they kept forcing me and even further forced me to add the recognition on social media platforms. They literally sat next to me and forced me to add TCK on my accounts. The feeling of being appreciated felt so good, something we lack in the Tamil scene.
Which commercials highlighted you to Malaysia?
There is actually two. The first was Subway Chicken when I broke into the commercials. The next was this year’s World Cup advertisement this year. I was literally everywhere in this country. And going up on a billboard is one of the biggest achievement for me. I was up on billboard at Damansara Bandar Utama and Ipoh. The last Indian that actually went up on a billboard was Actor Sashi Tharan where he was up on Federal Highway for almost a year. He truly inspired me.
How do your kids react when they see you on TV and Billboards?
They actually see me as a role model. They are my biggest fans and they are always curious of how I am handling house issues and also my work. The see me keeping it well balanced and it amazes them. I take my kids for my castings. I let them see my what I do to make ends meet. I want them to know that it doesn’t come easy. I feel its my responsibility to show them my hardship and my children have been very receptive and amazing.
Whom do you think is your biggest critique?
My wife. I have not impressed my wife with my acting till date. She always tell me that you have been acting and making so many people laugh but you have not impressed me. My parents never wanted me get into acting but it was only because of my wife’s support, it was possible. She is basically my pillar. At this point I will have to also mention Saarathi Vasanth whom has been such a supportive brother and K. Sisupalan whom has been my dearest friend, strength and have given me all the necessary guidance all along the way.
Apart from Jim Carrey, whom else are your inspiration?
Chandrababu sir has been a very big inspiration to me. As for in Malaysians, my inspiration is Afdlin Shauki. Anytime he calls me up, I’m in. The other person is Mamat Khalid. I really want to do Hantu Kalimah in Tamil. It will be superb. Trust me on that.
If someone wants to be a comedian, have you created a platform for them?
I am currently guiding 2 boys to be comedians. It is simply passing down the knowledge I received without filtering. And anyone with the interest can always approach me and I can look into their talent and further guide them.