Chikkanna seems to have taken the place of Sandalwood’s popular comedians of yesteryears. With 25 films to his credit, he has become the comedian that producers seek to make their films a commercial success.
Ask him the secret behind his witty one-liners and wisecracks that have the audience in splits and he responds with laughter. “Making people laugh comes easy to me, both on and off screen. People call me a natural comedian,” he says.
Luck brought him the chance to perform in some good movies, says the actor, who is booked till the end of the year. “I am working on Nanda Kishore’s yet-to-be-titled film starring Sudeep and then, I have Airavata with Darshan, Yash’s untitled film, Rudratandava and two other films,” he says, adding that he enjoys working with new directors.
Speaking about his journey in the film industry, Chikkanna admits that he didn’t have a great background to begin with. “I started taking part in comedy shows through Drishya Kalavide, based in Mysore. We did a lot shows during festivals and Karnataka Rajyotsava. Then I got the opportunity to do a comedy show on Udaya TV. When I did a skit with Pratap as part of the 75 years celebrations of Amrutha Mahotsava, I was noticed by actor Yash. That is how I got to work on my first film, Kirataka. I got a big break in Raja Hulli, and now Adhyaksha,” he says.
His comedy has not only boosted the success of his films, but has also got him the kind of attention that lead actors enjoy. “At the end of the day, we all crave for attention and applause from the audiences. But I never expected so much of love from people so fast,” he says.
Interestingly, Chikkanna says he wanted to become a villain. “I wanted to enter films but never wanted to be a comedian. I wanted to be a villain. I love playing the baddie. But people who saw me never gave me the chance to play a negative role,” says Chikkanna, who was surprised when directors and producers offered him the role of a hero. “I have said no because I have realised that if you are a hero, you can only be seen in your picture. But as a comedian, you can be seen in any context. For now, being the hero’s sidekick gives me happiness,” he says.
The comedian also gets requests from fans to do scenes off screen. “Since I am young and lean, drunken men consider me as a boy-next-door. They say, ‘Guru baama elli, ondu dialgue ellamma’ (Guru, come here and deliver a dialogue). I really don’t mind as far as they remember it the next morning,” he says with a chuckle.
“Thankfully, not too many double meaning dialogues come in my act. I don’t like that. I have even put my foot down to some directors when they gave me some dialogues that went overboard. Since I am from a village, I know what a family looks for when they go to watch a film,” he says.
Chikkanna watches all types of comedy but doesn’t want to follow anybody. “These artistes have made a name for themselves through their unique acts. I don’t wish to follow them. I want to do something on my own,” he says, adding, “You cannot copy the mannerisms of another comedian. Then you'll become a copycat.”