Shekhar Suman on his comeback, OTT debut with AK 47, repercussions for speaking his mind and more
The actor, anchor, producer, director and singer gets candid about what kept him away from showbiz, dealing with the tough times, his love for fashion and fitness, and much more
Actor and TV personality Shekhar Suman, within a relatively brief period, had become television’s first superstar — courtesy, his late-night show, Movers & Shakers (1997-2012). He was compared with megastar Amitabh Bachchan — what Big B is to films; Shekhar is to television, for he interviewed more than 2,000 celebrities from all walks of life on the show. It won’t be wrong to say that Shekhar is the pioneer of stand-up comedy acts in India, with his socially relevant satirical show. The actor has certainly come a long way since he came to Mumbai from Delhi at the age of 22 in the early 1980s and within 15 days Shashi Kapoor signed him for a film, Utsav to play against none other than the reigning prima donna Rekha. He went on to do several films and TV shows along with producing and directing a number of films. Cut to today, Shekhar is back on TV with the third season of India’s Laughter Champion as a judge along with Archana Puran Singh and will soon be seen in a web series AK 47 where he plays a new-age politician. He will also be soon coming back with his much-loved show Movers & Shakers. The actor, anchor, producer, director and singer gets candid when we ask him about his comeback, what kept him away from showbiz, dealing with the tough times, his love for fashion and fitness, and much more…
What kept you busy all these years when you were away from showbiz?
Yes, it took me three years. I was dealing with a lot of things in my family. I lost my mother and I was shattered. I took a break because I wasn’t able to think about anything but then I felt like my mother was telling me that her life had ended but mine needs to go on. I have learned that when you love life, life loves you back and now I live that way. I have evolved tremendously in these years. It is because I think about my craft every day. I work on it. Like a singer does riyaz, I do my acting riyaz through thinking inwardly, assessing and dissecting.
You are doing a web series AK 47. What can we expect?
I play a known politician who I don’t want to name but I know people would understand. He has a nice image outside but he was a sinister man and the one pulling the strings behind some major events that shook the country. He was behind many assassinations and killings. But they say people would go to any length in politics to be on that chair. I think this show is going to open new doors for me.
Do you think OTT has played a big role in bringing opportunities to actors with more experimental content and characters?
Absolutely! We have become more courageous. We have the ability and courage to experiment. We have pushed the envelope to become better in terms of content, characters and choosing the subject. We used to wonder why the Indian film industry is not like Hollywood and why actors after a certain age are not getting good roles, whereas in Hollywood many actors begin their career after the age of 40. Now all of that is happening in India, which is a good thing.
We have observed that you don’t mince words. What gives you the courage to do so, especially in a time when celebrities are always on the radar of trolls?
I am genetically engineered like that. I am not the kind who minces his words. I think a truth that hurts is better than a lie that hides a lot of things. I would rather speak the truth than a lie which may serve as a shock to everyone. I would rather say this on your face. I like being honest and truthful.
Does that come with repercussions?
Of course, everything has side effects, no matter how good the medicine is. It has its downside. But you have to stand by your convictions and beliefs. You can’t have it all, some you win, some you lose and you can’t please them all no matter what you do.
Lately, you have developed an interest in singing as well. How did that happen?
I think it is all related to acting. People take these things in isolation. I was the first person who started hosting shows. At that time I thought about how it would be to leave your script aside and just start talking to people. I did production, writing, directing, bodybuilding and now singing. This all is connected to the craft called acting.
How important are fashion and fitness to you?
It’s very important for me. If I am comfortable with something I am wearing, I make it my fashion statement. I look in the mirror and feel confident and that’s what you need. I keep experimenting with my hair, make-up, clothes and shoes, or else I would be a dull person. And I have always believed in staying fit. I love working out and bodybuilding has been my passion for a long time.
India’s Laughter Champion is streaming on Sony TV