Harisree to Asokan

he supply chain of comedy in Malayalam cinema has largely originated in the mimicry arena. In the Eighties, the assembly line of successful mimics-turned-film comedians provided yet another artist who was not only a laugh riot but sported a trademark beard that makes him the only comedian in Malayalam who does not need after-shave. Think Harisree Asokan and what immediately springs to mind are the images of a beggar seeking alms to the tune of A R Rahman’s “HummaHumma…”, the quirky thief in “CID Moosa”, the “Tom and Jerry” spoof with Dileep in “Ee Parakkum Thalika” and the slow-witted sidekick in “Chronic Bachelor”. Harisree Asokan hails from a family of mimicry artists. Though he debuted in “Pappan Priyappetta Pappan”, a 1986 release, and bagged minor roles after , he had to play a patient waiting game to make a mark as a comedian—which he did with the role of the vagrant in “Parvathy Parinayam” (1995). It was Jyothi Varma much later that he would come to know that filmmaker Sathyan Anthikkad had recommended bigger roles to his colleagues after watching “Pappan Priyapetta Pappan.” Today, after a quarter of a century in cinema, Harisree Asokan has proved to be an ace comedian who spreads a highly potent variety of laughing gas in the cinema halls. “On and off I used to appear in small roles in films but to be honest never dreamt of making a career in cinema,” says Harisree Asokan. He was a member of the “Harisree” and “Kalabhavan” mimicry troupes. Those days were a real struggle, he recalled. He had to even stop education after completing tenth class to start earning for taking care of a fairly large family. He would divide his time between working as a contract staff for the telecom department by day and performing mimicry at stage shows during the night. Harisree Asokan says that it was the film “Godfather” that provided a breakthrough in his career as comedian. “After the release of “Godfather”, people started recognising me wherever I went for stage shows. This also triggered a more serious intent in cinema as a career.” The bulk of Harisree Asokan’s standout roles have been in films of the Siddique- Lal combine. Later on, Rafi –McCartin and Shafi also


produced the best out of him. On the written script and the scope for innovation he said: “You cannot improvise from nothing. A good script is important to a good movie. Also, there can be humour for humour’s sake whereas in films like ‘CID Moosa’ and ‘Punjabi House’ it is the situation that drives the comedy.” Harisree also feels that there is a lot of difference between the pace of comedy in films and mimicry. “When I came from mimicry I had to tone down my speed. The interaction with the audi-

ence in mimicry is direct, whereas that is not the case with cinema,” he says. Harisree Asokan sees great value in extensively discussing scenes with the co-artists. “That’sperhaps why my movies with Dileep have clicked so well,” says he. About his beard, he says that he did try without it in a couple of films but the audience failed to relate to that. He decided to keep the beard after that. Ask him about the tipoff from director Siddique that he was a good singer, Harisree Asokan says that he is apprehensive about singing in public as he lacks formal training. “Some time back I did sing “Hridayavaahinee…” and a lot of people complimented me. Of late, I have started obliging requests to sing from stage show audiences.” Harisree Asokan feels that in these times, anybody can enter filmdom, but surviving in the field requires a lot of skill and talent. His message for all you friends reading this: Never compromise your studies for movies. It is, after all, a dream world. n


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