HYDERABAD: It was another day and another performance. He chose to do the crowd-puller act – of veteran actor NTR. The thunderous applause indicated that he did impress them.
“The show was over and I was getting off the stage when an old lady came up to me and almost fell on my feet. She said to me, I never saw the great actor. Today he is no more and you brought him alive in front of my eyes. I am not seeking blessings from you, but the art that is in you,” recalls mimicry artist and ventriloquist Shiva Bhaviri.
He adds, “It is instances such as these that keep me motivated and going.”
Though he seems ordinary, it is only when he starts talking that you understand that there is more to this man. The command in his voice and his ability to switch tones prove his versatality. Shiva’s love for the art form started when he was only six years old.
“My uncle, Bhaviri Ravi was a well-known mimicry artiste. I first saw perform at a family get together and was mesmerised. I didn’t even know that it was called mimicry back then,” he says. Shiva was so impressed by his uncle that he went on to quit his job as a HR manager at a private company to pursue the art form.
Quitting a well-paying job is a big step. But Shiva tells us, “I received a lot of support from my parents and my wife,” which is why he could proceed without any difficulties.
He started off by imitating his uncle for the first seven years. After that, when he noticed that there is an increasing audience for the art form, he started to take it imporvise, explored other sounds and voices, trained himself and then performed.
Twenty four years in the field, and after performing at close to 3000 shows across various mediums, he is still going strong. “More than the money, it is the appreciation and the smiles that I am able to bring across people’s faces that makes me happy,” shares Shiva.
The artiste who has performed on stage and also dubbed for radio and television shows, says he likes stage the most. “I guess, that is a standard answer for a stage performer.”
Shiva is trained under leading ventriloquist GVN Raju in ventriloquism and also mentors aspiring artistes. He notes that the approach to the art form has changed. “When I started, we used to practise using a stethoscope. I would plug it in my ears and listen to my voice. But today, with technology it has become a lot easier to gauge one’s voice quality. However, the amount of effort one needs to put in to master a voice is the same,” he explains.
On a parting note, ask him to display his skill, he gives a shy smile and suddenly, “Don’t trouble the trouble, if you trouble the.....,” he finishes and you wonder if it was Nandamuri Balakrishna giving you a warning.