One of Kerala’s most popular DJs, Sekhar will star in Aashiq Abu’s new flick, ‘Da Thadiya’. He says being fat got him this lucky break
Director Aashiq Abu’s next film features a ‘fat’ man in the lead. A man who carries his sheer girth with such style that all notions of thin being ‘in’ automatically perish. He is cool, completely comfortable in his skin and probably has the hippest job a guy his age can have.
Sekhar Menon, 28, who will don the key role in Abu’s ‘Da Thadiya’, is also one of Kerala’s most popular DJs.
Abu, who was impressed with Sekhar’s gig in one of Kochi’s clubs, called him up one morning last February with an offer to act. “I laughed. Then I paused; I was in doubt,” recalls Sekhar, carefully sipping his iced tea. “But then, I thought, finally, it is payback time,” he says, laughing.
The film, which also stars musician Sreenath Bhasi, will go on the floors this July. It discusses the problems faced by obese people in a world full of size zeros and six packs. ‘Fat’ people too have their place and a right to be happy, the film tries to convey.
For Sekhar, who has always been plump, the role would not prove difficult, as he has had to deal with mountains of advice on weight loss in real life. At one point, it got to him and he sought the help of an Ayurvedic physician. “‘Do we have any problem now?’ the physician asked me and I realised I didn’t have any. I could play [music] 13 hours straight. That reaffirmed my confidence,” he says.
Sekhar’s association with Abu began with the offbeat blockbuster ‘Salt ‘n’ Pepper’, for which he did the official remix of rock band Avial’s track ‘Aanakallan’. He is currently doing the remix for another Avial track, ‘Aiyyo’, along with fellow DJs Nash and Shankar. The trio calls themselves ‘Merchants of Groove’.
Groove rules his life. He gleans especially lovely sounds from memory, sometimes wills tunes out of a cacophony of film dialogues and background scores to create a new piece of music at his fingertips. However, it was a passion that involved days of struggle. “The time I started deejaying, the clubbing culture in Kochi was just evolving. I started off in a small pub called Formula 1 in 2001. That was my first full time job as a DJ,” he says. But since 1998, Sekhar had been an ardent fan of funk, hip-hop, house, soul and RB, genres that weren’t very popular commercially. He also watched the top guys in the business with keen interest. “I used to attend all the gigs of veterans Johnson, Vishnu, Suraj and Jakes,” he says.
It was the pre-Wikipedia age. Google search was rare, especially if one was searching for music. It was not easy to get music, yet Sekhar did his homework. Hours of research in net cafes, listening to different kinds of stuff being played, calling up friends abroad who helped him keep international trends kept him updated. “All I had then were two DVD players and a sound mixer. It was really hard to get a turntable,” he says. Now, blogs and websites from where one can download songs for free or buy them legally crowd cyberspace.
Growth was slow and “tough”, he recalls. “After work at Formula 1, I had to rush, for the last bus home was at 12.15 a.m.,” he says. He learnt the tricks of the trade, experimenting with different styles and constantly reinventing himself. But DJs are generally misunderstood as jukeboxes, he feels. “A DJ is not just someone who plays a request. Deejaying is hardwork, putting good music together and creating a seamless groove,” says Sekhar, who also has a degree in sound engineering from Chennai.
Educating people about new genres is important, too. For instance, the dubstep is the new rage in the international party scene. “But to an untrained ear, it may just sound like static”.
Sekhar has played at all the clubs in the city and is currently at Ava (Dream Hotel). He has never considered migrating to bigger cities which have wilder parties. For the “Kochi boy” loves his hometown, cherishes his visits to the temple and dreams of setting up a sound studio, where he can immerse himself in music production and teaching deejaying.
But the guy who gets to be at the hottest parties in town does “not drink or dance”. He chooses to make people dance instead.