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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Of jocks and jokes

Note: This interview was done in April 2007 for a Mumbai-based daily that was running a series of profiles of young achievers.

But this writer left the city soonafter, while the features editor of the paper quit. This is how the interview finally sees the day of light.

Name: Vikram Sathaye

Age: 32 years (He is 34 now)

Milestone moment: Comic spots for Extra Innings during the 2003 Cricket World Cup.

Innovation: Stand-up comedy in English — a rarity this side of Jerry Seinfeld. He’s had audiences in splits with his accurate mimicry of cricketers.

Alternative interests: Marketing management, film production.

Profile: MS Dhoni is wary of Vikram Sathaye.

During India’s tour of South Africa last year, Dhoni joked to Irfan Pathan pointing to Sathaye: "Irfan, don’t tell him anything. He makes his money by joking about us."

But cricketers respect Sathaye. His fan list is mighty impressive: among them are Sachin Tendulkar and Wasim Akram.

What’s the biggest compliment he’s received? "Someone told me I do better Sachin than Sachin does," he beams.

Then he recalls the time Wasim called him from Lahore. "Wasim used to tell his grandfather how funny my imitation of Inzamam-ul Haq is. So he called to ask me if I would imitate Inzy on the phone so that his grandfather, who was sick at the time, could listen to him and laugh a little. I said, ‘Anytime!’ That was perhaps the biggest compliment ever."

People know little of his accomplishments in marketing management, a career he chucked to be a full-time comedian.

"The year was 1997," he says, "and my batch mates at Symbiosis Institute of Business Management were heading to the Levers and Cokes. I wanted to be the manager of a basketball team — the whole Jerry Maguire thing was in."

An year-long stint at Sunil Gavaskar’s Professional Management Group followed, and then, a four year stay as marketing manager of MTV India.

At MTV, his part-time antics made him as popular as Cyrus Broacha. Then, he was heading a production company — SET’s Metalight Productions — and the talent for clean and effective humour was spotted in 2003 by Kunal Dasgupta, the SET CEO. Extra Innings followed.

"By the end of that year, I realised that the response was beyond my expectation. I decided I’ll be a full-time comedian," Sathaye says. Now, he’s on the road about 10 days a month doing about 7-8 shows for private audiences.

"Vikram can see the funny side of things, which seem perfectly normal to others," says columnist and popular blogger Amit Varma, who’s been Sathaye’s good friend from his Fergusson days. "And his humour is always good-natured, never harsh or malicious, and often very perceptive."

This is a country whose people need to laugh more often. Make them, Vikram.

Photo: The Hindu

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1 comment:

Sujeh said...

His imitation of Viv Richars is hilarious.