Backing comedy

in conversation

Backing comedy

“I didn’t say no to Star Wars,” he says and guffaws when asked how his film-career is shaping up. He is witty, he is sharp and he can have a good laugh at his expense — that’s Cyrus Sahukar for you. “Am I all of this? I Don’t know. I don’t really have great offers chasing me, but I don’t feel the burden anymore. It was there initially. Anyone who says that  showbiz is a no-pressure zone is lying. The pressure to perform is always present. I have felt it every single day. But that’s history now,” he adds.

Spinning spoofs

The VJ, best-known for his spoofs (more famously for playing ‘Simi Girebaal’), has just completed Mira Nair’s short film Words With Gods alongside Richa Chadda and Rajkumar Rao. But, what’s keeping him in the news is this — two viral, crazy videos in which he has interviewed Karan Johar and Farah Khan.

Cyrus is now regaling audiences with his online parody show, The Bench. Produced by Humble Pie Productions, jointly owned by Rhea Kapoor, Karan Bhulani and himself, the show has director Farah Khan speaking about Tees Maar Khan in one of the episodes, and Karan Johar speaking about My Name Is Khan in another. Both 2010 films. “The day the videos were aired, two kinds of people called me — one variety had people laughing, and then congratulating me, the other had those who were laughing and asking repeatedly the point of promoting an old film now. No amount of explanation would do,” he says, adding, “We wanted to make a mockumentary and give it a feel of a series that wasn’t released. Like, we shot the footages back then, but they were withheld and slotted for a release now.”

Celebrities seem to be falling over each other to make a spoof on themselves. Remember Alia Bhatt’s Genius video last year? Cyrus says the idea of mocking oneself (or a mockumentary) occurred to them in 2010. “Karan (Bhulani), Vaishali (our writer) and I wanted to conceptualise a talk show. Talk shows are funny. There is this first five minutes of awkward relationship between the interviewer and the star before the backslapping starts, if at all! We wanted that to come through. We had only a table and three chairs and a lot of random ideas. Then, during the shooting of Aisha, Rhea (who was producing the film) also expressed interest in producing content for other media.” That’s how Humble Pie was born. Cyrus adds that he is only associated with the creative side of production. “I am terrible at production! Rhea takes care of that, and Karan handles the direction.”

Cyrus says that life’s mistakes have worked for him the best. “I’ll explain. Did you know that Cyrus Broacha and I worked on a Vikram-Betal series of spoofs? I was to play Betal, but Broacha is a hobbit, really, and my feet were scratching the floor when he had to lift me. It didn’t work out. Then, while  toying around with my Betal wig, it occurred to me that we could start Simi Girebaal!” he admits.

Upcoming shows
Cyrus has his hands full now. The production house is producing two shows, one each for television and the internet. He is co-writing a special series with graphic novelist Samit Basu. “We are creating a 10-episode series on the original stories of super heroes. It’s really exciting!” he chirps.

He seems to be a popular choice for hosting game shows. There is Sab Khelo Sab Jeetto, which has more than 120 episodes on air; the shooting for another show will soon begin. He’s part of the Spread The Cheer campaign initiated by Comedy Central channel. “Various comic artistes were part of this show. We visited people at rehab centres, old-age homes and NGOs to bring smiles to their faces. I did a games marathon with six to seven schools that are run by the BMC and NGOs.”

Also, get ready for a new episode of The Bench featuring the ever-so-serious looking Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra. “Oh! He is hilarious! He has directed me in two of my best films ever. His sense of humour is like mine. Hence we get along well. He will be a revelation on the show,” Cyrus teases, leaving us in anticipation.

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