The internationally famous Umer Shariff makes a comeback to India, after fifteen years. Known best for his comic sense, Umer Shariff has left a mark in the minds of people all over the world. Right from hosting shows in various countries all over the world, to making films in Pakistan and now even hitting Bollywood, he has left no stone unturned in making people smile. We talk to the man of the hour - Umar Shariff who is back in India to judge Star One's The Great Indian Laughter Challenge's grand finale along with the due Shekar Suman and Navjot Singh Sidhu...
What truly connects you to Comedy?
I just want people to laugh. I don't want to see tears in their eyes. I want that whereever I go, I should spread laughter and happiness.
Do you believe that the shows today give opportunities to people from India and Pakistan to perform together, will this actually help bring peace between both the nations?
Artists are birds, I consider myself as a bird, who should be free to travel and these borders shouldn't mean anything. And shows like these ease the tensions between the two counties. I just wish that even if I can play a small role in being a bridge between India and Pakistan, I will consider myself lucky. I want a day where we can travel across the countries freely. I want an audience of India and Pakistan along with Indian and Pakistani performers to do a show on the Wagha border. But alas!! I just don't know when it will be possible.
How come the sudden attention towards India?
Many don't know, but my ancestors are from India, Alighad to be precise. Whereever you go, Apne Desh Ki mitti apko bula laati hain. I was in India 15 years ago and now I am back, doing TGILC and my movies. It is not that it's a sudden change of perception, but its just that I didn't get a chance earlier.
What is the difference between Pakistani television and the Indian television?
Pakistan is picking up now. There are around 50 channels right now. Around 400 more in the making. Indian channels have more variety.
Your plans for Bollywood?
I am doing a film with Sunil Shetty called - Confusion and another film called - Tum Mere Ho. Tum mere Ho is on hold as we have to shoot the most of it in America and there have been some issues with the Visa, which is taking a long time.
Can you please give a little insight to your role in Confusion?
If I spill out everything right now, who will come to watch the movie then? (laughter)
You are a man of many talents - writing, directing and acting, how do you really manage it all?
I am a writer, actor, comedian, director and much more. I am working in eighteen aspects of creativity. I think I am doing fine right now.
With such a hectic schedule, do you manage time for your family?
A man has to be there for his family. I see to it, that I try to spend time with my wife and kids. We go on mini vacations and when I am home, I spend the entire day with my kids and make them listen to my latest jokes and they too get bored at the end of the day, saying, 'Can we please talk about something else?' (laughter)
Talking about Star One's The Great Indian Laughter Challenge, how did that happen?
I guess the producers thought that I could judge the finale. It will be great to work with Shekhar and Siddhu. Its not the first time that I am judging a contest. Judging for me is not just giving marks but to show a way where the contestants can improvise.
Your favorites in The Great Indian Laughter Challenge:
Amanullhah Khan and Sunil Pal.
You were to host Sony's Comedy Circus, but we didn't see you there from the first day it self. What went wrong here?
This is not true. I didn't sign any contract with them. Talks were on and at the last minute things didn't work out. Things were not cleared from both the sides.
Lastly, any message to the audience?
Well, I would like to give a message to Akshay Kumar specially, that when we met, he tied me a thread saying that I am his guru, but now that I am in Bombay, he hasn't even come and met me yet. (laughter)
Well, Akshay, I hope you're reading this. Folks, Umer Shariff for sure is a person who is varsatality personified..... We wish the 'Baadshah of Comedy' the very best for his upcoming movies, shows and would like to give him a warm welcome to India.
Reporter: Hiral Anju Bhatt
Author: Hiral Anju Bhatt