I'll quit the day I lose my excitement
At the launch of Bigg Boss (Tamil), Kamal Haasan fields questions from CE about his much-publicised television debut
When Kamal Haasan talks, you listen. He is 62, and is effervescent as ever, and an ardent disciple of the enrichment of reinvention. That’s why he has adapted to new trends, and evolutions in technology with remarkable alacrity. And now, after being a choreographer, actor, director, screenwriter, and producer, he takes on another role: that of a TV host for the Tamil version of Bigg Boss. The show, which will go on air on June 25 with 14 celebrity participants who will battle it out on screen for 100 days, marks the actor’s television debut.
It seems even ‘Ulaganayagan’ has butterflies in his stomach. “The day that dies, I’ll quit,” he smiles. As the show’s host, does he have any plans to position himself differently? “I don’t pretend in front of anybody. I am the same everywhere. In fact, even in front of the camera, I don’t pretend. I am just myself, as the character I play,” he says. You may think that Kamal Haasan is a name familiar to every household, but he says Bigg Boss will do its bit too. “You may think I’ve achieved a lot. But your way of calculating it, and mine are probably different,” he laughs. “Bigg Boss will help me reach every household in a better way, and this will happen naturally, considering the show’s popularity.” He believes it’s a challenge to command the interest and attention of an audience that has a lot of love for novelty. It has been reported that two of the contestants could be politicians. “I hope to god that’s not true,” he says. “But hey, everybody knows I don’t believe in god.”
The actor has always had polarising opinions. Does he think it will come in the way? “I’ve been practising it since I was four. Sure, it’s given me a lot of professional and personal baggage, but I’ve always been something of a survivor,” he says. Does he think the show will interfere with his filmmaking duties? He says the plan is to visit the sets of the show once a week, every Saturday. “I have watched the shows as they were hosted by Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan. I rather enjoyed how Salman managed the show, as I think he seemed quite candid in his approach. He shedded the image of a star, and that I think is the best part of it,” he says. “I’m aware that what I want may be different from what the viewers want. But I think I can find a balance.” Why did he do a Bigg Boss, when he could have done a Satyamev Jayate? Kamal retorts that he doesn’t need a TV show to show he’s socially responsible. “I can proudly say that I’ve been more socially conscious than the person who hosted that show,” he says.
It must be surely difficult to be Kamal Haasan, considering the sheer variety of the roles he plays, and the public interest in his every move. What does it take to be him? “It’s all what you think and more,” he says, cryptically. And just before he signs off, I prod him over Rajinikanth’s much-anticipated political move. “We need a separate press meet to discuss that,” he laughs.