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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Ullas Pandalam criticises Comedy Stars chief judge for losing in reality show contest

By A Staff Reporter


LONDON March 14:
Four Stars comedy team, who were adjudged the second best team in the ‘Vodafone Comedy Stars’ aired in Asianet channel, are touring the UK at present. Although Four Stars did not win the contest they hogged the limelight after them revealing the shady dealings which is prevalent within the reality competitions being held by various TV channels in Kerala.

Asianet's Vodafone Comedy Stars programme landed in controversy when Four Stars alleged foul play in the selection of the winners at the show's grand finale.Members of team ‘Four Stars’ alleged that the show’s chief judge Jagadeesh and director Byju Melila ‘sabotaged the judging process’ and pushed them to the second spot despite winning the maximum number of SMS votes and maximum overall marks.

However, since all the happenings, Four Stars' ratings have not dipped as their demands have only increased. The team has been invited to do comedy programmes by several Malayalam TV channels incuding Mazhavil Manorama and Surya TV. They are also invited to perform in Singapore on April 20.

Four Stars team are at present holding stage shows in different parts of the UK. They arrived to the UK immediately after the finale of the comedy show and therefore the issue is still bubbling.

This website spoke to Ullas Pandalam, team captain of Four Stars. Excerpts from the inerview

Q: How is the UUKMA & Friends United Musical Comedy show going on in the UK?

A: The UK Malayalee audience has shown so much support to us and its glad to know that majority of them have been watching our programme on Asianet and had only good words about us. Its also heartening that they all respond to our show by applauding and responding to our comedy. We got more stages coming up in other parts of the UK (Scroll below to see the forthcoming schedule)

Q: Did Four Stars actually walk out of the Vodafone Comedy Stars final programme and why?

A: Yes, we did walk out of the show’s grand finale in protest but that portion was edited out of the show. We got the maximum overall marks and SMS votes and came first in more than nine episodes while the team which was given the first prize was third in terms of overall marks. Also, they came first only in six episodes. There was partiality and therefore we protested.

In the grand finale, there were four judges. While three judges could award 20 marks each, the chief judge could give 40 marks. Despite our repeated requests, the chief judge and the director did not make the marks awarded by other judges public, clearly indicating foul play. The show which was said to be a Live telecast was in fact a recorded one and we found it more honourable to part with the second prize of Rs 4 lakh than silently suffer the injustice.

Q: Were you paid for each episode?

A: No, we were paid a paltry amount of Rs 500 per show as travel allowance. Over the last three years, many teams including ours cancelled many stage shows which was the source of our livelihood and suffered many hardships to participate in ‘Comedy Stars’.

Q: Why did you decide to come out and criticise someone who has given you an opportunity?

A: We wanted to make contestants of similar shows aware of the ‘backstage sabotage’ that might happen in the final selection of winners. Our aim is to highlight the plight of ‘hapless contestants’ who spent years for the success of various shows.

Q: Why did majority of the media keep quiet on this issue?

A: Majority of the mainstream media in Kerala kept quiet about this as most of the medias own their own TV channel and therefore they would have decided to keep quiet as a mutual agreement so that others dont report it when something goes wrong within their channel. I would like to point out that it was only the UK Malayalee media which highlighted this on the Internet.

Q: Have you received any film offers and what are your plans for Four Stars?

A: I have acted in three films which are yet to be released and on offer for two more films, which I should get involved when I am back in Kerala. We are receiving several offers under the banner of Four

Stars and we may have to shed that name as its the name we got for the competition on Asianet channel. The new edition of comedy stars have got another Four Stars team in it and therefore we may have to rename our team. I am also part of another comedy group named Kala Rasika.

Q: How will you keep the Malayalee audience satisfied as you have raised your barriers?

A: It is a huge task as the Malayalee audience demands quality and they will go away from us if we try to give them some cheap gimmicks. The burden on us is immense as we have to sit and work to come out with new ideas. Moreover, as we are now classed as a good group we have to keep up to our name and reputation.

Q: Will you return to Asianet if they called you back?

A: The producer of Sundari Neeyum Sundaran Njanum from Asianet appraoched me but I had to come to the UK tour and therefore turned it down. Our protest was only against the main judge and the director of Comedy Stars programme, who were the main people who did not want us to win the prize. As artistes we got a duty to perform at any given time if we are available. We cannot say no to anyone as its a profession and therefore we will be more than happy to work with any channel.

Q: Where are you from in Kerala and a brief about your family?

A: I am from Pandalam and live near to the NSS Medical Mission Hospital. I am married to Nisha and children are Indujith Raghavan and Suryajith Raghavan.


(With inputs from other sources)

Vodafone Comedy Stars: Unhappy supporters of Four Stars team burn effigy of chief judge (Video)