Report By: Nina Rai
Mangalore, Aug 04, 2011
Ask any die-hard Radio Mirchi listener in Mangalore and the name sure to crop up is a diminutive ‘volcano of talent’ with an amazing flair for comedy. He is none other than the hugely popular Radio Jockey Vismaya Vinayak. A truly multi-faceted artist, Vismaya Vinayak (31) is a gifted mimic; a consummate stand-up comedian; a versatile mime artiste; an awesome singer; a cookery show host on TV and a mind-blowing Radio Jockey to boot. To add to his repertoire of talent, he is also an accomplished script and song writer.
Vismaya Vinayak, who claims to hate ‘Silence’, just explodes in front of the mike, keeping listeners completely hooked throughout his broadcast on air. His fans simply go berserk while speaking to him over Radio Mirchi especially his latest impersonation called ‘Kamala,’ with the hilarious tag line “Madhime Athijee Naanala” (Kamala – Who is still not married). However, behind all the outward banter and laughter Vinayak is a serious individual, very down-to-earth. He is a deep thinker with his beliefs strongly embedded in Tulunadu. All the incidents and anecdotes related by him in Tulu language goes back to his roots, of which he is mighty proud of. Indeed, he is a true son of the soil.
Given below are excerpts from the interview with Nina Rai:
1. Take us back to your childhood and tell us a little bit about it?
My family has been residing in Urva Stores village in Mangalore for ages. We are a bunch of ten siblings with me being the last. I have had a normal childhood. I remember stealing mangos from trees, playing pranks and going fishing. My father worked in a tile factory as a fireman and since he was an expert in baking the tiles meant for roofs, he was a much sought after artisan for his expertise. He used to get orders from different states and he would tag the whole family along whichever place he had a contract with. As a result I have traveled to far-flung places. In-fact I was born in Ratnagiri.
The music bug caught on in childhood. My mother used to sing ‘bhajans’ so we all would do the same at home. I would even listen to the songs of, Rafi, and and would sing exactly like them. Also I was a good mimic, copying everyone around. In school, teachers used to push me to take part in fancy dress and stage shows. As we didn’t have TV at home, I used to watch Ramayana and Mahabharata serials in neighbor’s homes. And then come and narrate the same to my Mom at home, visualizing and portraying it exactly the way it was. Thus in a way my mother was responsible for encouraging me into mimicry. She passed away when I was in the 9th standard.
2. When did you first realize that you wanted to be an artist? Tell us about the journey?
I went to Kottara Primary School. There was one teacher Narayana Master, though strict he saw the talent in me and would always encourage me. He would catch hold of me whenever there was high school drama to be staged. Once there were two plays “Ammereg Angalapoo” (Greedy father) and “Parashurama,” (Ancient saint). I was to play the lead in the first play, while a female artiste was to play the lead in the other play. Unfortunately, the girl fell sick and I had to play the lead role in that play which I did after going through the dialogues at short notice. It was a big success. However in high school there was more of singing and less of drama. I was always interested in singing in Hindi; in-fact I was very fluent in it.
Although I was good academically and always got a first class in primary and high school along the way I lost interest in it, as I was more inclined towards artistic pursuits. During my PUC at Canara High School I did a lot of singing and mimicry too. At that time Kudroli Ganesh Gopadkar’s team comprising of magicians, mimicry and mime artistes was in town. I used to accompany my elder brother Ramdas who used to do mime there. I would observe Gopadkar doing his acts from far. I leant a lot just by watching him and thought I could do it too. I would imitate famous Hindi actors like Nana Patekar and his famous dialogues like “Ek Machchar Aadmi Ko Hijda Bana Deta Hai?” and many other actor’s dialogues.
Once second PUC at Kanara College came to an end, where I did a lot of mimicry I got a good break in 1994 at Karavali Utsav to do mimicry as also singing though I had no training as such. I got excellent response there. Then Gopadkar took me under his wing to do magic and mime in his troupe. I learnt a lot under his tutelage. In his stage shows I tried new concepts like mimicking a full visualization of a film trailer, which was hugely appreciated by the audience.
For one year I was with Kudroli Ganesh troupe then I joined ETV in 2001 and was with them for one and half years. I was sent to Hyderabad by the company where I worked in the entertainment section. I even did programmes in Hindi. Once I did mimicry at the owner’s son’s wedding which was got a very good response. However, I didn’t like it there much, so came back to Mangalore and started freelancing. I used to go where ever I was called especially by orchestra teams. I was in great demand as MC and for mimicry. For some time I was also assisting the famous Dr. Mohan Alva at Moodbidri, I used to help out in his stage decorations and other activities.
Then one fine day I got a call from a friend for doing some voice-overs and stage shows in Mumbai. Once there, I did several stage shows as a comedian and mimicry artist in places like Matunga, Mulund, Borivili and Kurla all as part of the Tulu Kuta. However, there I went through some real tough times as I was not given my due share monetarily. Finally I had no option but to return to Mangalore. Later I did some mimicry shows at Malleshwaram in Bangalore. I came under the wings of the famous comedian ‘Mimicry’ Dayanand and was with him for 2 years and did the highest number of stage shows with him.
3. What made you get into RJing? Tell us about your foray into this world?
It was due to Dayanand that my fortunes turned and I got into RJing. Dayanand saw the potential in me to be on radio programmes. He suggested that I get into it and gave me the confidence to try it out saying I had a good voice for it. Big FM had just taken some initial steps before being launched. I went to their studio and gave a voice over. I even had a video conference with the Big FM boss in Mumbai. Some how, I didn’t get a good response for my audition. Meanwhile even Radio Mirchi was being launched. Usha Singh who was with me ETV called me for Radio Mirchi and in-fact suggested my name for the Mangalore branch. This was in 2007 I was selected and the rest as they say is history.
4. Tell us about your present stint at Radio Mirchi, Mangalore?
When I first joined, Kiran was the head at Radio Mirchi. I was chosen for the morning segment especially the devotional one. There was also a mix of songs. I was chosen as a “mood freshener” By and by I learnt the rudiments here, as radio was a totally new line for me. In 2008, my ‘Sad’ a joking caricature was a super-hit with the listeners. I also started doing the “Mirchi Talkies” from 9 pm to 12 am which mainly comprised of very old Kannada songs where I spoke of life and times of old Mangalore. I myself would write the scripts and the dialogues. It got a stupendous response too. Then I did “Rewind Raga,” a Tulu Jock talk between 12 pm to 2 pm. The songs mainly comprised of old retro songs with questions asked in between to listeners in Tulu. It was a hit as people used to feel as if I was talking directly to them.
Now my latest on air show is a full on Tulu Jock talk. The Mirchi team thought of a ‘Drive time’ show called as a Tamashe factory – a show packed with full comedy content from 4 pm to 9 pm with Hindi Bollywood songs in which from 6 pm to 7 pm I am talking as Kamala, a female impersonation in my own uncanny style. It is already a super hit, with our phone lines jammed with men and women jostling to talk to ‘Kamala.’ Actually I had done my Kamala show on radio for commemorating Women’s Day on March 08. It was a big hit and many people wanted to hear it again, so we decided to go ahead with it now.
5. What about the other vocations like singing, doing stage shows, making people laugh?
Alongside with my radio jockeying I have been doing stage shows, mimicry; comedy and even hosting of cookery shows on television. Radio Mirchi permits us beyond our work to do these activities in the side. I have lately done shows in Kerala, Mumbai, Bahrain, and Gujarat. Making people laugh makes me very happy and gives me full satisfaction.
6. What are you looking forward to in the future…your goals?
I want to do many more comedy shows and events that reach out to many people all over the country. I want shows on a bigger scale something which will have a greater reach. Recently I did a song album “Allele Eregu Madime.” Also in a forthcoming film called “Devoo Punja” I am singing the title song “Ankada Beare Neela Tulunadu.”
7. What would you like to say to your numerous fans and readers?
My take is this. Laughter costs nothing. It’s totally free. There is no tax on it. So make the most of it. Enjoy life by spreading good cheer all around. When people laugh at my jokes it makes me laugh too and in turn also gives me immense satisfaction.
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