This week's First of Many features Cyrus Sahukar. In the 74th edition of our exclusive series, the actor-host talks about his first stint at acting in MTV Fully Faltoo (2000).
A mention of actor-host Cyrus Sahukar’s work, and one cannot help but credit him for introducing us to the spoof culture, courtesy his several shows on MTV in late 1990s and early 2000s. The actor, however, says that he was initially sceptical whether the Indian audience would accept the genre.
Luckily, Cyrus, along with his fabulous team of MTV veterans hit jackpot when shows like Piddhu the Great, Kick Ass Mornings and Semi Girebaal turned iconic, and evoke nostalgia to this day.
In a candid and hilarious chat, Cyrus spoke about kicking off the spoofing concept in India and how he landed his first acting venture, MTV Fully Faltoo when he joined the channel as a teenager.
Here’s what Cyrus Sahukar shared:
What was your first acting project? How did the project come to you?
MTV is where it all started because I started playing a lot of characters. I did MTV Fully Faltoo and played Hrithik Roshan in its first episode. Hrithik had just been launched in Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai and was a sensation across the country. We decided let’s start a show which will spoof everybody. We kicked off with Hrithik Roshan, and decided to move forward.
I was an 18-year-old kid who had just joined MTV and they were initially not sure where to place me, what they wanted to do with me. A couple of people in the channel decided to start the spoof culture. They said initially we can’t afford to make a show because it’ll flop very badly, and we weren’t sure if people will watch it. So they planned of putting in a little bit of money and make it a vignette that will air three times a day. We started with Hrithik Roshan. I had to learn that dance on “Ek Pal Ka Jeena”. The only difference was while dancing, it looked like I’m having a coronary attack or a muscular spasm. I looked like a dancing spider who had too much coffee. I had very long thin arms. But, we got attention for spoofing. Then it spiralled very fast. Our bosses immediately said, “Okay, this is something people are open to.” Eventually, most part of my life, apart from hosting at MTV, I was the guy who did characters. I did about eight shows and played 30 different characters. All the acting bit came go to me, the humour went to Cyrus Broacha, lifestyle and fashion went to Malaika Arora and Anusha Dandekar. It was like that.
What do you remember of your first day on set?
I remember the choreographer slowly giving up hope. He told me to do a corpse dance and asking for forgiveness! He declared that I cannot do it because my mind isn’t in it. He was really bugged. Hrithik had worn a net vest. And while changing costume, I fell onto a light and the vest got a hole in it. It got burnt from there and that was another problem. There was only one vest, we had to shoot all night. So I had no choice but to wear the vest with the hole. We had to replicate lighting and other elements too. So it was a difficult shoot.
Were you nervous? How many retakes did you take?
I can’t remember properly, what happened. I can remember of getting nervous because I hoped nobody minds and makes a big deal out of it. And there were actors who were actually laughing while doing it.
How was the rapport with your co-stars when you got to meet or work with them again later?
There weren’t any co-stars. It was only me having a dancing problem. I felt so lonely. After that episode, when more people joined in, it was great fun. We did so many episodes of Fully Faltoo. My favourite was the Sholay series which I wasn’t a part of, but it was excellent. We made a spoof on Indiana Jones with a huge cast. I even had a monkey in it who hated me. He bit me and slapped me. I had to carry him on the shoulder and he was a freaking idiot! We also did Bechare Zameen Par, Chak De India with Ayushmann Khurrana. Ayushmann played Shah Rukh Khan, I played Raghu from Roadies who hits people for no reason. I had to wear a bald wig. We spoofed 10 episodes of Tantri The Mantri. So a culture had started. From there we did Piddhu The Great and Semi Girebaal. Cyrus Broacha and I did a show with top 10 songs and skits. Sunil Grover was also there. Abbas Syed’s job was of artiste management, to get artistes. He is now the head of another music channel. Sharib Hashmi was our writer. He was always pushed and thrashed. People said, “Who are you, a writer? Put on this wig and act this part…” One day, he is a murderer, another day, a monkey.
My favourite moment was when we were shooting MTV Ek Do Teen at Film City. I was dressed as a carrot and Cyrus Broacha was a young housewife. The Cine Artistes Association (CINTAA) came and shut down our shoot. And Broacha said you cannot do this and got into a wrestling match, dressed as a woman, with long hideous hair and bangles. And I am shoving somewhere as a carrot. We had no respect for anybody, yet absolute love for each other. Also, there was no hierarchy. I like such sets. I can write a book on the memories of that time.
If given a chance to go back to your debut role, what would you like to change or do better?
I would never do it. I think that time and market is done. And spoofing actors is done to death. We did it for straight 10 years. That’s enough. I’m far more interested in playing characters now.
One film or role that inspired you to become an actor?
We got cable TV much later in life. I was obsessed with movies that came on Doordarshan like Gol Maal, Chitchoor. The first two people I copied were Utpal Dutt, and Ashok Kumar in Hum Log. I was very small but I loved the way he spoke. Utpal Dutt’s “Achha” was very interesting. I was also influenced by Om Puri. I did Delhi-6 and the greatest opportunity I got was to hang everyday with him, Pavan Malhotra and Prem Chopra. I made a disco playlist for Prem Chopra on his phone. That’s my claim to fame. He is the nicest gentlest man, with such youth in him. I used to go on a walk with Om Puri. One day he knocked at my door and asked me if I forgot to take him along. I thank Rakeysh Mehra for casting me in Delhi-6.
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