Cyrus Sahukar is an MTV VJ and actor whose claim to fame was Semi Girebaal, a spoof on Simi Garewal. He is funny , witty and a deadly Parsi -Punjabi combination. His brief stint with cinema began with ‘Rang de Basanti ‘and he was recently seen in ‘Dilli 6’ and ‘Aisha.’
Cyrus Sahukar in a 2 part exclusive interview with India Journal:
Q:When you joined MTV, there was already a Cyrus ruling the channel, did you feel threatened at all? I mean he was a Cyrus, a Parsi ,and a crazy VJ…all that you were?
A: I was 18 when I joined MTV I was incredibly young and I was adopted as the ugly sister that they don’t bring out, like in the old Hindi movies. It was harrowing constantly being compared to someone who’s already been there for many years and who’s so extremely talented but we never ended up having any personal competition among us. I think the thing with MTV is that all the men are useless and incredibly lazy so there was never anybody who said that you taking my lines or you doing more work than me, it was always like can you take my lines, can you do more work than me I really don’t want to be here, so the atmosphere is very friendly! As days passed by I started finding my own space, started doing my own bunch of things which I wanted to do, I was far more interested in playing characters and Cyrus was far interested in playing himself.
Q. What made you start with spoofs? Did you also mimic your teachers at school?
A: In early 2000, there were already spoofs being done but never organized spoofs because in India people are petrified of offending people and we are actually the most hilarious looking country and everybody is quite spoofy. I remember there was this lovely line which my friend Arshad Warsi use to say “ India is the funniest country in the world which has a very bad sense of humor”.
So then we decided to come up with this show called fully faltoo in which we used to spoof basically everything and everybody, we started with spoofing Hrithik Roshan. We spoofed every single ad and spoofed every single person that we could possible spoof, and luckily what happened was it became incredibly successful & I somehow found a branch away from Cyrus Broacha. As a kid I was very quiet. I remember there was this teacher called Mrs Fredrick who used to teach me economics and whenever she got angry she used to start screaming and say Ivan -go to your room, but there was no Ivan there, she had this imaginary character. I think some of the strange characters that I play on the television are all inspiration of real people.
Q. How did your love for media begin? And how much struggle did you have to did you have to do?
A:I was incredibly lucky because by the time I was 15 I was doing theater, radio voice over, live radio and by 18, I joined MTV so my struggle was more in terms of not getting the job but staying in the job, which was exhausting. I lived out of a suitcase for two and half years. I found Bombay very lonely initially. It’s like some days I don’t feel funny at all but still I have go and do a live show. I remember this lovely line which Woody Allen once said, “In life I rather be lucky than be good.” I don’t really agree with it but I like the way it sounds.
Q. Do you remember your first audition? How was it?
A: My 1st audition was the height of humiliation. I got a call and apparently this magazine called Target was looking out for attractive looking boys so I oiled my fringe and went for the audition, what happened next was I got call from them and they said I’m very lucky that I have been chosen out of 1000 boys and I got selected for this ad with Sachin Tendulkar and Mini Mathur, so for about two weeks I lied to my friends by saying that Sachin and Mini have become very good friends of mine and I hang around with them. After a month training I realized there was no Sachin Tendulkar or Mini Mathur, they had taken shots of them saying their lines and the lines were incredibly awful. And then I realized that this ad is going to air and everyone is going to know that I don’t know them. I’ve done 40 auditions after that and I must say that they have been traumatizing to say the least. For ‘Delhi 6’ I had to audition 4 times, I remember that I did an audition for Tobu cycles when I was just 5. I was actually much better looking when I was a kid so my mother and sister realized that they can make some money off me so they tried to auction me off but that didn’t work out and then they started sending me for these ad auditions. It’s a similar story to Charlie Chaplin it’s just that he got successful!
Q.You are from an all boys school. How much of girl chasing did you do?
A:I went to this all boys school called St Columbus and the only claim to fame was that Shahrukh Khan and Deepak Chopra studied in the same school so it was this very high end military Irish all boys school and we were only separated by a wall where there were all girls in this school called C.J.M . In school I was very shy, I called my 1st girlfriend ma’am for the 1st year and by the time I was 17, I figured out that if you could sing and make people laugh, the ladies kind of like that. One becomes mentally unwell when you spend 13 years in an all boys school ,so when you come out you are either petrified of women or you are obsessed about them. I think I got obsessed.
I was brought up in a family where there were lot of women so I knew a lot of women secrets I knew what a face pack was, I had a girlfriend for two years.
Now I just hang out with the girls.
Q. How was it doing Semi Girebal ? Did you actually follow the show for ideas?
A:That time in my life was very strange because I was doing another show called Business Bazigar which I believe was based on the Apprentice so in the morning I use to shoot for that and by 12 in the night I use to shoot for Semi Girebaal. Though I didn’t look at her work ,so what I did was that I created a character who represented to me everything that was upper-class, very classy and I just had a blast with it .We shot in low budget, never thought it would become successful. We shot mostly with extras guys who were in our office, some of them didn’t even work there.
Q. Did the show finally make you realize that being a chick is not easy. Make up, hair et al?
A: Yes, it did and I remember one day I went and randomly hugged my sister and started howling and said I know it’s not been easy for you, post which she said that leave the house and never come back. In fact, I recommend that your dating life will improve to 60% if you dress up and behave like a woman once in your life time.
I did really understand this whole process of doing make up, wearing jewelry and women’s clothes. I think every guy should do it once because what it does to you is it makes you realize that it’s exhausting being a woman. Men were looking at me and I used to often kick them and punch them. I was an ugly woman, am really tall – I’m 6 feet 3 inches and with heels I became 6 feet 6 inches. I also met her (Simi Garewal) at a show and requested her to come on our show. I’ve utmost respect for her and I was not mocking her.