Dharmajan Bolgatty is a busy bee in Malayalam cinema. He's an energetic presence on television shows, a figure of fun on silver-screen and an innovative writer who pens TV shows, comedy stage shows and movies. Amid all these engagements, he also finds time to manage his successful business called 'Fish Hub,' a chain retail store selling edible fish.
Dharmajan became familiar to Keralites through the victory of 'Cinemala,' a TV show the artist penned along with Ramesh Pisharody, his much celebrated buddy-comedian. Though Dharmajan's name, fame and talent have been discussed a lot, his real life love story, childhood and making of the artist in him haven't yet been revealed. Onmanorama caught up with Dharmajan to know more about the actor.
How did you develop your passion for movies?
I had never dreamt of becoming an actor. I haven't yet sought a chance in any movie. Lack of confidence was my problem. With this dark, short and slender physique, I was sure no one would ever offer me a good character. But I had strong friendship with people in movie industry. I used to present stage shows along with prominent movie actors. Cinema was then not there in my dreams.
Then how did you land the silver-screen?
I used to write script for stage shows and television programs like Cinemala. At that time, I used to think that writing was my profession. It was actor Dileep who called me once, to extend an opportunity to act in one of his movies called 'Pappi Appacha.' I was excited. After that experience, I gathered confidence to act in movies.
How did you meet Ramesh Pisharody and develop friendship with him?
Miracles happen when certain people meet. I was not at all a familiar face to the audience when I used to be an independent script writer. Same was the case with Pisharody. We first met during the script writing session of a popular comedy television show called Cinemala. We started writing the episodes of 'Cinemala' together. Fortunately, the episodes we wrote together became huge success. Later on, I and Pisharody started doing stage shows together. We did a combined television program for almost five years in a channel.
People applauded the rapport we shared with each other. Both of us became a celebrated pair on Malayalam television. In fact, we have struggled to develop and maintain a vibe among us. At times, we took break from television shows to avoid boredom. After a gap, we resumed our pace through 'Badai Bunglow.'
We have shared our friendship for 17 years now. There hasn't been a single instance of brawl or clash between us. Still, we make time to meet up and spend time together. I even visit his family with my wife quite often.
Pisharody is a busy director now. His second movie starring Mammootty, Ganagandharvan has released. Rarely do we perform stage programs or mimicry shows together, these days. Earlier, I and Pisharody used to spend time together, more than we did with our wives. It has been a long time since we spent some quality time together in a room. We have a gulf-trip coming up. We look forward to it to spend some time together.
I had acted in Pisharody's first movie and will be seen in a small role in his next flick also. We will support each other as long as we are active in this industry.
Do you have any funny experience after entering filmdom?
People often get confused by my name. They easily recognize Pisharody by his name. Some have even asked Pisharody 'where is the short guy with you' and some have even called me as Amruthanjan, which sounds similar to Dharmajan. People do know me but my name is not familiar to them.
How did you get your name?
It was my father who named me Dharmajan. I used to hate my name as a child. It was too big a name for the short person I am. My classmates who were well-built and thick bearded were named either Babu or Biju. The shortest person in the class had the longest name – Dharmajan. After entering film industry, I feel thankful to my father for giving me a rare name.
I have an elder brother called Bahuleyan. He was nick-named Babu right from his childhood. My parents didn't even give me a nick name. I am called by my real name – Dharmajan, everywhere. No one has ever called me Kannan, Kuttan or Ponnu which are the popular pet-names of our times.
How did you meet your wife?
Me and my wife Anooja are distant relatives. We used to meet each other whenever there was a wedding or a funeral. We used to exchange looks and part ways each time. We had an untold love for each other and both of us knew that. We had never spoke with each other in the beginning. It took us years to look confidently at each others' faces and express love. We haven't roamed around as a couple before marriage. She was at her home and I, on the streets. She called me over phone from her home and I spoke with her standing on the road. Our circumstances did not allow us to roam around as couple before marriage.
In other words, we deliberately avoided such instances. But we had pure love for each other. We still have it. My elder child is 10 years old. Anooja married me right after her studies. She couldn't start a career as we soon had two small children, one after the other. Now, she manages a franchise of Fish-hub, my chain fish retail store.
What is your hobby other than acting and script-writing?
My favorite hobby is fishing. I don't get enough time to engage in fishing these days. I visit all the branches of my store whenever I get time. 'Fish hub' has multiplied to eleven franchises across Kerala in a year's time. I consider all the franchises as my own shops. I have great love for fishes. I feel lifted when I visit a fish-hub franchise and get my hands on the fishes. In fact, me and my partners purchase the fishes directly in order to ensure the quality of the fish we sell.
What is your favorite food item?
My favorite food item is fish. I like small fishes. They are rich with calcium. White sardine, anchovvy, Nanthan, orange chromide, small green chromide etc are my favorite fishes. I also love cooking good fishes. Fish curries can be prepared in coconut gravy, chilly gravy and also by adding milk. The tastes of these curries will vary according to fishes. I love preparing fish molly and fish dry fry covered in banana leaf. I am not fond of red meat. Fish curry is my favorite delicacy.
What is the difference between the humour in your time and now?
Pisharody and me had attempted to bring novelty in the skits and TV shows we did together. I presented real-life comedies on stage ditching the conventional mimicry-styled humour. Both of us would freely come on to the stage and crack jokes quite spontaneously. That style is still being carried forward by TV shows. It wasn't the way comedy skits were performed before us. Before, artists used to change their voice and imitate others to present comedy.
The landlord would have a typical voice modulation and the servant would have another.
We brought about a positive change in that paradigm. We are quite happy about our role in bringing realism to comedy shows. I and Pisharody have experimented certain new concepts in mimicry by bringing punch dialogues and involving video streaming during live show.
The stage show in which Pisharody argued with Donald Trump for my eligibility for the award for best comedy actor, was a rage among Malayalam television audience. Mimicry is an age-old art form. We cannot correct everything about it. Yet, we have been able to bring some quality changes in it.
What do you wish to accomplish further in your life?
I wish to start a food start-up called 'Dharmu's kitchen' next. It would be an online platform which will open its services in Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode and Bengaluru in its first phase. We would deliver customized curries to customers within minutes of receiving order. Dharmu's kitchen will start functioning soon in Kochi.
We have already completed its initial formalities. I had started a small kitchen that prepares fish curries along with some of my Fish-hub stalls. It was a huge success. People demanded an expansion to that project. We prepared a mobile application and it received massive response. We sell good quality fishes through our shops. I thought it would be good to prepare curries with the same fishes and sell them sideways.