“Idhu paper interview la? Adhan paper roast.” Bosskey tells us, as we gaze at the long ghee dosa that has just arrived at our table at Sangeetha Veg Restaurant in RA Puram.
The lanky actor, radio and TV personality is a familiar face in Mylapore social circles. You have probably seen him on the steps of Narada Gana Sabha, chatting with his friends, or if you are a regular at Sangeetha Veg Restaurant, you catch him eating pongal and vada for breakfast.
Bosskey is popular now; he knows he makes heads turn as he walks past, brandishing his colourful shirts and the shiny bald head that he is proud of. But there was a phase a young Bosskey – with more hair and less experience – roamed the streets of Mylapore. Back then, he had dreams of becoming a cricketer. “In 1979-80, I was pretty sure that I would play for India as a leg-spinner. Srikkanth (Krishnamachari Srikkanth) told me that too. But it all flopped, and I thought it would be the end of the road for me,” he says.
It was his sense of humour that saved him. And that came from his upbringing in East Mada Street where he grew up, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of Mylapore. “Every evening, I would hear music. On every important occasion, speakers would be set up outside my house, where I heard speakers like Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa address people. All this taught me concentration; because, in between this humdrum, I managed to pass B.Com in first class.”
Bosskey started out an employee of Indian Overseas Bank, where, he says, he learnt how to lace everyday life with humour. At the counter of Santhome branch of the bank, he met a cross-section of people, enabling him become an extrovert and the people’s person that he is today. He rose to fame because of appearances in ‘Hari Giri Assembly’, a set of funny interviews in Jaya TV, and ‘Sollunga Boss’, a stand-up comedy show in Sun TV. His tryst with films – fans of Vijay might remember him from 2002 film Youth – also helped his popularity soar.
Regular commitments with media keep him going to this day, despite the many personal setbacks he has had in recent times. “The day after my wife, Vasanthi, passed away, I was involved in a 100-minute interview. I lead a very commitment-embedded life and think we need to compartmentalise emotions; it is, after all, just another school period, like history or geography. Thanks to being pre-occupied all the time and surrounding myself with people who look at life in a humorous way, I am able to tide away from any setbacks,” says Bosskey, who considers Madhan, Sujatha, Crazy Mohan, Vaalee, Nagesh, Sve Shekhar, Delhi Ganesh and Y Gee Mahendra, among others, as his mentors.
He is currently trying to advocate his concept of ‘humourology’ to school students as well. “It should be taught as a subject in schools. It will help you face your problems better. I firmly believe that your worries will vanish once you start making fun of it,” he says. Bosskey is using his knowledge of cricket in his commentary – he analyses the game, albeit in a funny way, for TV and YouTube channels, and hopes to become a mentor for cricket teams. But Bosskey stresses that he will remain a Mylaporean at heart. “You can go to America and Australia to earn money, but where will you go to earn happiness? That’s availability in abundance in Mylapore. Just a stroll in its streets and taking in its sights and sounds is happiness for me.”