Jayee has been to the Odia entertainment industry what Johny Walker or Keshto Mukherjee were to Hindi film industry. A filmograph that exceeds the 300 mark, his countless fans vouch for his spontaneity and comic timing while essaying various roles with the characteristic grin on his face. The ace comedian and character actor Jayiram Samal spoke to Diana Sahu recalling best of his experience in the industry.
You have been acting non-stop in films, tele-serials and theatre. What keeps you going at this age?
I don’t think age is a limitation as far as acting is concerned. When I am not acting in films, I take out time to do serials, advertisements, or direct stage plays. I keep doing this for the audience that has made me what I am today. And I would continue doing comedy because I think making people laugh is the most difficult and satisfying job on this earth.
How has comedy changed in the last four decades?
A comedian in those days (when I started my career in the 70s) was always one of the four important characters in a film, the other three being hero, heroine and villain. Also, a comedy track was always woven into the main storyline of the film carefully, never to appear as incidental. But it is no longer so. In our days, comedians never made an effort to crack jokes, their body language, dialect, acting, evoked humour.
There was no profanity in dialogues whatsoever and everything that they did on screens was so real. Today, people don't laugh until the comedians work on their facial expressions or are given some cheesy dialogues.
What is the most memorable comic character that you have essayed so far?
My most memorable character obviously will be from my first movie ‘Jajabara’ in the mid-70s where I played the role of a mischievous priest. Since it was my first movie, I was under extreme pressure to perform well. I was newly married then and had to go to Baripada for shooting.
For the character I had just a tuft of hair left on the clean shaven head. The shooting got over in some days and when I returned home in Cuttack at midnight, I remember my wife opened the door and screamed. She could not recognise me and neither could my mother.
They mistook me as a thief. (Smiles) What do you have to say about the current crop of comedians in the industry?
All the comedians of the present era are talented and have the spark. It is just that they aren’t getting too many memorable roles to play.
What are your current projects?
I have a string of films in my hand, shooting for which will begin after the Puja. At present, I am shooting for ‘Nai Separi Kanaka Gori’.