Grover’s in the groove

Grover’s in the groove

Sunil Grover's humble moorings, his ability to observe, improvise and play stress buster for the masses is the most endearing quality of the funny man, writes RAJIV VIJAYAKAR

STANDING TALL Sunil Grover

Most comedians are highly intelligent individuals — they have to be that to succeed. They are also said to be deeply serious people at heart. Sunil Grover, the actor who rose to iconic status with Comedy Nights With Kapil, however, dismisses this as a generality.

He shows sporadic flashes of uproarious humour to the television crews as we wait our turn, but again that is for public (visual) consumption. When we sit down to chat, he maintains that everyone has his own process as a human being. “I don’t know so much, sir!” he says, almost apologetic. “Am I serious or funny in real life? Well, every person has his own mechanism. Some are physical in acting, some tell their own story, some tell other people’s stories, for others it may be something else. And that’s fine, for individual expression has to be there.”

Sunil’s own forte is observation. “I am observing everyone in this room even as I talk to you,” he smiles. “There is that girl talking on her mobile. Her expression and body language clearly indicate that it is a social call, and it is not her parent or boss at the end of the line! But let me tell you one thing: if you observe too consciously, it becomes superficial. When you do it at a subconscious level, it goes deeper, and is more enjoyable. It’s like work, which some do with responsibility and passion, whereas for others it might be just enjoyment and a way of earning money.”

Sunil, as we all know, is not just a comic actor. He has done brilliantly in the serious role of the intense havaldar in Gabbar is Back, as the grey-toned parent in Baaghi and now as Vilayati, the hero’s lifelong companion, in Bharat. “I feel I am lucky to experience everything, for both as a human being and actor it enriches you. If I do not experience all this, how can I be fulfilled, and how will my work show maturity?” he reasons.

“An actor’s life is about many diverse characters,” he continues. “Whether I was Dr Gulati or Gutthi on television, or my other characters in films, my principle was to essay them with as much dedication. My motto is karte jaao, seekhte jaao, ho jaata hai (keep on doing your job, learning on the way, and you can do it)!”

We mention how good he is at portraying a woman, and as realistically lady-like in nuances as his performance on television showed, and he replies, “My job was just to essay a character, and she happened to be a lady. If I got this lifetime chance to play a more powerful sex than men, I was fortunate.”

Yes, Sunil is unshakeable in his belief that a woman is stronger than a man. “She is a multi-tasking entity. What every person becomes is because of his or her mother’s influence,” he points out. “My mother would always say, ‘You have to make your family proud, work hard, be the best!’ and that programmed my brain. After I did my Masters in Drama at Chandigarh, I came to Mumbai. I did not know how successful I would be, but I wanted to see myself on screen, and I never lacked in confidence.”

Sunil feels it is entirely thanks to his filmmakers that they saw him differently from his comic avatar while casting for films. “To producer Shabinaa (Khan) and director Krish goes the credit of giving me that role in Gabbar is Back when my identity was only comedy on television. I was very happy when they cast me, and happier when people accepted me.”

But Sunil is content with his funnyman label. “My home runs because of it. I get the chance to make so many people smile,” he says candidly. “I thank God that, maybe, He has given me the opportunity to de-stress so many people!”

The actor does not plan and even Bharat was an unplanned part of his journey. “I enjoyed doing Bharat so much. Salman Khan, Ali Abbas Zafar (director) and Atul Agnihotri (producer) all made me feel comfortable and a part of their family. Yes, I was nervous, also in a dream as I could not believe I would be working with an actor of whom I was such a big fan, but in a few days, I was set,” he smiles.

We then ask the obvious: how are things between Kapil Sharma and him? We hear he refused to go on his show to promote Bharat. “I saw no reason for it,” he answers simply. “We have met once or twice, otherwise.”

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