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Journey to the Big Screen from Theatre Via Comedy: ‘Accidental’ Comedian Abishek Kumar on His Foray into Tamil Cinema

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Abishek Kumar, the comedian who recently became popular on social media for creating the character Mrs. Janaki, calls himself an “accidental comedian”.

He started off in theatre a couple of years ago and slowly made his way into stand-up comedy, creating a name for himself in the circuit and soon garnered fame on Instagram during the lockdown due to Covid-19.

Recently, it was announced that Kumar will be making his debut as a film actor with Oh Manapenne and will also act in the Dulquer Salmaan-starrer Hey Sinamika.

In a conversation with Silverscreen India, the actor talks about preparing for his performances, stand-up comedy and shooting videos even on busy work days.

Kumar says that he will be playing the role of Vishnu in Oh Manapenne, starring Harish Kalyan and Priya Bhavani Shankar in lead roles. He landed the role in 2019 after the film’s director and an assistant director saw one of his performances on stage.

“To be very honest, the movie is already made in Telugu (as Pelli Choopulu). So, I already knew about the storyline and what the character demands. And it is not a character which needs a lot of homework also. It is a very feel-good, casual movie which needed natural acting rather than intense preparation and method acting and all that. I was just trying to fit the role in the most natural way possible,” he said.

He said that he added his own flavour to the character, rather than replicating the Telugu actor who played the original role.

“Both Harish Kalyan and the Hey Sinamika team don’t treat a new-comer actor very differently. They give you enough room to improvise. I have been very fortunate and lucky to land my first couple of films with such professional and nice teams so that you don’t feel the pressure,” he says.

The winner of Amazon Prime Video’s Comicstaan- Comedy Semma Pa Season 1 in 2020, Kumar calls his tryst with stand-up comedy “an accident”.

“The makers (of a show) called me in the last minute after the original performer backed out,” he explains.

While some may believe that he is an actor-turned-comedian, the transition is originally from a theatre actor to a comedian to a film actor.

“The transition was initially from an actor to a stand-up comedian. I was never planning to be a stand-up comedian. I was in theatre for four years from 2016. The transition happened in 2017 when I started doing stand-up, again it is also performed on stage. So, the transition back to acting was not really tough. It was just that the opportunity came a little late in terms of acting in movies. And I am not even complaining. I am grateful,” he says.

With a pan-India stand-up comedy tour in the pipeline, Kumar says he follows a physical form of comedy style.

“I am not the person who stands and delivers, I am more of a performer. I use my theatrics and body-language to bring out humour.”

His style of performance can also be seen in his Animoji character Mrs. Janaki Teacher. His portrayal of a typical Chennaite school teacher became an instant hit on the internet. As someone who likes to multi-task instead of “prioritising one thing over the other”, Kumar says he has no plans of quitting comedy.

Speaking about the current status of his comedy shows, he says, “It is still going smooth. I am still doing shoots. Even during the middle of movie shoots, I continue doing parts of my stand up shows inside the caravan. In fact, all the shows are virtual. I am not going to put a stop to my stand-up at all.”

Kumar, who will be seen playing supporting roles in more films, confirms that his next project is likely to start in the ongoing quarter.

“I always wanted to be a performer. I was not hungry but it was a long term dream to watch myself on the big screen,” he adds.

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