A death knell for comedy actors

DECCAN CHRONICLE | PRIYA SREEKUMAR
Published Aug 17, 2015, 5:47 am IST
Updated Mar 28, 2019, 4:37 am IST
Say most M’town comedians, who despite playing as vital a role as the lead actor, are deprived of recognition by the State award committee
Salim Kumar
 Salim Kumar

Mollywood has relegated comedy to one of the many elements of the story rather than churning out full-length comedy thrillers and actors doing comic roles are delegated to playing the sidekick of the hero or bringing comic relief.

Till recently, the State bestowed the award for Best Comedy Artiste on actors who were outstanding in comic roles, but that has been done away with, with the unspoken belief that even actors in comedy roles be considered for the Best Actor Award. More than financial gain, most actors see awards as an encouragement and a huge incentive to excel.

 

An actor who has proved his worth in character as well as comedy roles, Tini Tom is against the award being done away with. He says, “An award is an encouragement and gives you the energy to go forward. That a comedian be considered for the Best Actor Award, it isn’t going to happen; taking away the Best Comedy Artiste Award is a death knell for  comedians. Doing comedy isn’t easy, because even a look can bring on laughter. I feel the number of awards should be diversified so that more actors and technicians are motivated to work harder.”

 

Agreeing that the Best Comedy Artiste Award is an encouragement, Kalabhavan Shajon says, “Awards shouldn’t be stopped, but encouraged. It is not that comedians stick to only comedy roles, we also do powerful character roles.” Who can forget the villainous inspector that Shajon portrayed in Drishyam? Shajon prefers not to voice his opinions on comedians being considered for the Best Actor mentioning that maybe the jury feels comedians are not on par with the lead actor’s performance, which is best left to the jury to interpret. Shajon though, opines that the Award for the Best Supporting Actor be considered for actors in comedy roles. He states, “After the hero, it is perhaps the comedian who brings on the laughs and who entertains the audience.”

 

Versatile National Award-winning actor Salim Kumar has been very vociferous in his opinion that there shouldn’t be a separate award for an actor doing comedy roles.

Sticking to his stand Salim Kumar says, “It is essential that the award for the Best Comedy Artiste be removed! There is nothing like best comedian, acting is a combination of several navarasas and humour is just one facet of acting.”

When asked if any comedians would be considered for the Best Actor Award, Salim Kumar refers to the example of Jagathy Sreekumar being considered for his role in the film Kilukkam.

 

“We are tagged as comedians, villains, etc. but those are just character traits of a role and there is no need for differentiation. It is the channels who have started giving awards to all and sundry and to those actors they prefer; but a Government award cannot be given preferentially. An award should be earned based on an actor’s ability and not be just given as a present.”

Veteran actor Jagadish, known for his evergreen comedy dialogues, doesn’t want to question the decision of the awards’ committee to do away with the Best Comedy Artiste award.

 

Jagadish though, does have an opinion about the Best Supporting Actor Award. He asks, “Who is a supporting actor? The hero may be a supporting character for other actors so what is the definition of the Supporting Actor? There are no rigid norms, but rules that we conceive and I do not want to question those rules. I only feel that there should be clarity about what the supporting actor tag entails. An actor doing a supporting role can be an excellent actor. So if it’s based on the length of the role, it is again not the right yardstick. I personally feel a Best Actor and a Best Second Actor makes more sense and a person doing a comedy role can be considered for the Second Best Actor award.”

 

Actor Sreekumar, known for his comic roles asks, “If a leading actor does comedy, he is still called an actor; but when a character actor does comedy we are tagged as comedians; why limit us to being just comedians? I am all for the award being reinstated.”

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