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Laugh, but responsibly

Vivekh is a thinking actor who translates his social anger into on-screen comedy, SUBHA J RAO learns.


AS A comical Vivekh, his arm around a pretty something, looks on benevolently from a Mirinda hoarding, the real-life actor is taking questions on a variety of topics, answering each one with rare sincerity.

In town to honour the winners of the "Vivek Siricha Jollythaan" contest, organised by Pepsi, the actor (calling him a comedian is just not doing justice to the person) has a hectic schedule, visiting four houses within two hours. The tiredness little shows on his face. "I love meeting people but my schedule does not allow me the time. Through this show, I am able to interact with my fans in their set-up," he says.

Vivekh has already been to Madurai and Trichy. How have the people responded to him? "Admirably. They are thrilled and show it in different ways. The response is enough to boost the ego. Actually, the experience teaches you that you should not have an ego," he quips.

As for what he learnt during the trips to fans' homes, he says: "I've learnt the viewers' level of enjoyment. They seem to enjoy comedy tracks rooted in social issues."

When someone quizzes him on belittling religious sentiments and making fun of differently-abled people, Vivekh hits back, saying: "Tell me, in how many movies have I promoted atheism? All I am against are religious sentiments that fool people. As for making fun of the handicapped (Perazhagan), please understand that the disabled don't want your sympathy. What they want is to be treated like others. And, in the movie, I am the person who protects the hunchbacked protagonist whenever he is in trouble."

Humour is very necessary in life, he feels, but it should be healthy.

When Vivekh started off, did he expect such popularity? "No. I have come further than my expectations. I joined a humour club and wanted to work with K. Balachander as writer when he suddenly roped me into films (Pudhu Pudhu Arthangal). Later, I struggled. The audience too, for they did not know where to place me. I became popular only when I chose the message-giving route in Tirunelveli.

With popularity comes market consideration. Has he had to bow to it? "At times yes. But, the producer has to make his film run. We have to satisfy all, you see," he states.

Where do his jokes spring from? "Angst. I am always seething in anger against social ills. Just look at what happened to that baby who fell into a borewell? Is there no value for human life?" he asks. "I just use humour as a medium to expose these things."

Ask him how he has changed in all these years, and Vivekh can't resist saying: "I've aged." "Seriously, I now know that I have a social responsibility. I cannot say and do things as I please. Recently, a woman came up to me and said that her son ate only if he was allowed to watch my comedy scenes. Before I turned very happy, she requested me to not smoke on screen as her kid was trying to ape me."

And, the actor says he has evolved a style of his own now. "Earlier, I stuck to slapstick comedy and fast dialogue delivery. Now, my delivery is slow and I convey strong views."

His next movie to hit the marquee will be Chellame. Before concluding, ask him whom he works best with and he says: "Vikram", without a second's hesitation.

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