By Faz Zia
The internet has become a huge platform and many brilliant artists can be found on the internet with their videos and some artists have used this platform to become huge stars. People love their videos and then know them within their particular roles and characters. Last week I had the privilege of meeting one of the very popular characters known as “Pammi Aunty” played by Ssumier Pasricha. His character as Pammi Aunty has become a huge internet sensation with millions of fans all over the world; here is what he had to say:
Q: Ssumier, welcome to London – are you here for a specific project or just as a little holiday break?
A: It was supposed to be holiday but has turned out to be a work one but I am so please to be here.
Q: You sing, are learning professional dance and are acting- which part of art do you enjoy the most?
A: All, only thing is I only do what I love to do and its upsetting when you meet people in life where they say they wanted to be an artist because that’s what they love but end up being a doctor for example. I started my career as a singer and then ended up doing theatre and dancing because this is what I love doing.
Q: You started dancing and singing at a very young age. Are you still practising?
A: I started as a singer when I was 6 years old then came into theatre at the age of 10 and dancing at the age of 17. I have not been practising for a long time but still know the moves and can still dance but am out of touch with it.
Q: What about the theatre because many artists they love doing theatre as they say it is live interaction with audiences?
A: I am doing theatre since the age of 10 and because of theatre I am here where I am because I never learnt or went to any acting class or school. Luckily I have great people to work with such as Shaker Kapoor and Jaiti Bhatia, currently I am working with Sammita Bharti where I play an autistic child. I am very blessed to be able to work with great directors who explore the talent in me to do the roles and explore myself.
Q: Playing an autistic child, how was that experience, did you study someone in real life?
A: It was out of the world, when I was rehearsing for the play- my director would tell me that sometimes as a person he would do something over the top and there was a very thin line between mentally retarded and being autistic. Sometimes I would do certain things on set and my director would stop me and say you are not mentally retarded you are playing an autistic child. I was in a totally different body and continuously shaking myself and getting hyper it was something different. I watched many YouTube videos and ended up meeting one or two people where after I met them I knew the mannerisms of an autistic person. It was a brilliant play and very well written by Smita Ji. It was written for the people who think autism is a mental disorder which it is not. It was a tough play and drained me out, but the most difficult thing was that I couldn’t improvise my character, the character was like an encyclopaedia, the ability to talk facts and not be able to go wrong.
Q: Did you want to be an actor or did it gradually come to you?
A: I wanted to become an actor but I never thought I would be able to make money out of it so instead I opted to do an MBA and when I was looking for MBA schools in Australia, I was secretly looking for acting schools in New York. I was looking into National School of Drama, I got all the references but I was very scared that may be I couldnt do it and if i did my MBA my future would be secure. Guess what- even after all the studying I did for my MBA, I even left my Dads business and started acting.
Q: Now tell us about your famous Pammi Aunty character- did you met someone, or is she a family character you adopted, how did it all happen?
A: Sometimes I still get amused about how it happened, the day before my first video I didn’t have a clue that I was going to be Pammi Aunty; I have seen lots of ladies around me who I observe gossiping since my childhood. When I was young I would sit next to mum because there was no playground in my house and I never had the opportunity to play outside in the street like normal kids do and there was no internet, so all we did was sit next to mum and listen her on the phone or talking to friends and just observe what was going on. Pammi Aunty happened just one fine day, I randomly posted one video and then never had a chance to stop it, is was just like an unplanned baby.
Q: Pammi Aunty is now associated with tourism?
A: Yes with Jordon tourism! I did it for one year and not any more, it was a brilliant thing and I have received an award from Jordon Tourism as it was increased by 16% by Punjabi community. I always wanted to do a travel show but it became Pammi Aunty.
Q: Do you think that the Pammi Aunty character will be with you for a longtime or you can get out of this character?
A: As an actor I am very capable of switching on and off from Pammi Aunty mode. It is overwhelming, like Gulshan Grover is called bad man or Amitabh is angry man or Shehensha, so I am very happy people excepted me in my Pammi Aunty role and it is an honour for me. I am happy that Pammy Aunty is my product.
Q: Tell us about your association with social causes. Is there any particular cause close to your heart?
A: I won’t say there is any special cause close to my heart, but I love to give my voice to any matter to people be it cancer, be it pollution, homosexuality I am always very vocal about social causes and I think if I am at that position where my voice mates then why not- if I can bring little changes to anyone’s life then I have done my bit. If not with money, then my voice I will do as much as it can.
Q: Seems like this is your lucky year with many awards?
A: Yes it is very lucky, 11 awards in one year and now in London awarded in the House of Commons contributions to British and Indian culture so this is a big thing for me and I am still enjoying it.
Q: Future projects?
A: I can’t talk about future project but currently there is a new series of Pammi Aunty which is out on Balaji Mbile where I am playing four characters.
After the interview Ssumier got ready as Pammi Aunty for a live performance hosted by Raj and Pablo at The Royal Hotel Bar where many fans were excited to see their favourite Pammi Aunty. I wish Ssumier all the best for his future projects.