Suman served a shocker to the television industry by announcing
yesterday that he was bidding au revoir to Sony Entertainment
Television's talk show Movers & Shakers, a programme
which helped build up his personna. For more than three years,
Shekhar has grilled and nailed celebrity guests in a jocular
manner, while aping and mimicking famous (or is it infamous)
personalities like Laloo Prasad Yadav on a show which has
come to be very closely identified with him and Sony Entertainment.
Harsha Khot spoke to Suman after his announcement on why he
chose to quit and what now for Shekhar.
Excerpts from the interview:
Why did you quit?
I quit yesterday and have told them about it. In fact
they were going to invest in the new sets (for the show) and
since I had already made up my mind I thought it was better
to do it before they sunk in money. Also it would be unethical
for me to walk out when the sets are ready.
You just can't make an actor sit around. Though we share a
beautiful relationship, they had been promising me a lot of
things but did not live up to their promises. They kept delaying
the new format of the show. They fixed a date and even then
nothing was done. I am an actor first, and then an anchor.
Are you expecting any reaction from Sony Entertainment's
side since you have a five year contract with it? Do you think
there is a possibility of a suit?
I am prepared for whatever the channel may choose to
do. But I don't think there is any possibility of them suing
me because both of us have an exit clause which says that
either of us can move out of the project after every term.
It is a five-term contract signed for Rs 24 crores (Rs 240
million) which has to be renewed at the end of February every
so sad that a show which is so closely identified with Sony
had to come to an end the way it has. It has very strong brand
associations with Sony. Mention Sony and the first show that
comes to mind is Movers & Shakers. But I did not
have a choice. I had waited too long. It's so sad that Sony
has slipped to No 3. Zee TV has got its act together and is
focusing on what it must do right. So must Sony.
already are in June so hasn't the contract for this term already
No, in fact it was supposed to be signed in March,
but then there was further dilly-dallying about the new format.
It was supposed to be signed after finalising the new format,
which was postponed to 2 May after I was to return from the
US. But even then it was not ready. I gave them time till
2 June, but even now there are no signs of any firm decision.
All this dilly-dallying indicated that they wanted to kill
the show which I would not have allowed them to do. The traffic
has to be two ways. It seemed as though it was only I who
was interested in driving and not they. My team was getting
Were there any problems at the production outfit, Inhouse
No the problem mainly
was from the channel. There was a lot of confusion, they were
not able to decide properly. I didn't want to be a part of
the resulting chaos so I stayed away.
The show was supposed to be launched in a newer and more
interactive format wasn't it? Then why quit now?
Yes it was supposed to start from 4 May. I was in America
for sometime and I was told the show would be shot in its
new format after I flew back. But when I returned, things
were still undecided and there was a lot of vagueness, whether
one particular idea or another one would bring in enough audiences
and all that.
I believe that the show itself has enough audiences as a lot
of people were attached to the show. Everyone right from the
prime minister, to chief ministers to other ministers like
Sushma Swaraj love the show. Laloo Prasad Yadav hugged me
and told me he loves my impersonation of him. So does Rabri
Devi. Everywhere I went people would tell me how much they
liked Movers & Shakers - be it in the US, the UK, Tanzania,
the Middle East or the Far East.
Add to that there was a lot of confusion in the channel after
the success of KBC (gameshow Kaun Banega Crorepati)
on Star Plus. Nobody knew exactly what was happening in the
company. Since I didn't want to get into office politics,
I stayed away. Many new programmes were introduced, timings
Movers & Shakers was shifted from 10 to 10:40 pm and
I wasn't even told about it till they had already decided
the time slot. I asked them why was this being done and they
did not have an answer. I was told that it would be shifted
back to its original timing of 10:00 pm but instead the aired
time was pushed further to 10:50 pm. Ever since the programme
went on air three years ago the show has been getting good
ratings, it had ratings of 12 TRPs then. Even now, three years
later, the show is getting a TRP of 5-6 despite everything,
which means it is doing pretty well.
Then again Sony was losing its identity, it was heading towards
becoming a me-too channel. There was a new programming head.
Who owns the show?
Movers & Shakers is my idea. I mentioned a stand-up
comedy act to Mani (Aiyar - Inhouse Productions promoter)
and he liked it. His COO Sailesh Dave added elements like
the band, the interviews and made it more like the Jay Leno
show. Most people like the stand-up comedy act which is essentially
my idea. I will have to see what I do with it now. All the
channels have been approaching me to do something. I have
been flooded with calls ever since the news broke out that
I was quitting.
Otherwise, what was it like working on Movers & Shakers?
has been a very good experience working with Sony Entertainment
on Movers & Shakers. The Movers & Shakers programming
team at Sony Entertainment was fabulous to work with.
you working on any other project?
Not right now I am not taking any projects. I am cleaning
up my slate. Remember, I quit Jab Khelo, Sab Khelo
a short time back. I won't be doing much television but I
will not leave it completely. I am doing a film with David
Dhawan and am concentrating on my production company.
your production company: are there any projects that you are
We have Dil Chahta Hain on Sabe TV. There is one more
serial that will be aired on Sahara TV in the coming month.
There were two more serials but both had to be called off
because of problems at the channel's end.
Are you going to act in any of the serials that you will
Yes there is one serial that I am working on. It is about
a guy and a lot of kids. It's quite similar to The Sound