Thamizh Talkies: A host of important topics
The writer is a film producer and an art curator
There’s something new about Bigg Boss Tamil this year and it’s not just the colourful set or the contestants. What’s new is also the host, who, despite conducting the show for four successful seasons, appears to have cracked a new formula at making a whole new, closer connection with the average viewer of the programme. Kamal Haasan seems to have reinvented himself yet again. The repartees are instant and the three-way connection he makes with the contestants, the live audience, and us, the viewers, are all distinctly compartmentalised. It’s as if he knows exactly which remark to utter to different cameras; all of them hit home.
The October 31 episode was trending under ‘politics’, another new angle to this reality game show, which has a good run in other languages, yes, but not a host to match the punchlines or rational speech of Kamal Haasan. In this episode, he addressed the key issue of ‘widow rights’, and applauded Anitha Sampath for suggesting the same. With Kamal Haasan turning 66, six days from now, there was a birthday video from his 56th birthday circulating, in which he spoke about a famous widow of India, Mrs Indira Gandhi, mentioning that widowhood should not be a limiting factor for any woman.
This is a host who speaks on imbibing the good from the Mahabharata one week and eulogises the good from Periyar in the next. In Saturday's episode, he tells us of the pitfalls of succumbing to herd mentality (“verum aattumandhaiyaagavey irundhu vidaadheergal”), and goes on to enumerate why every individual has to use his rationale to decide aspects of his life, and consequently, his State. In an increasingly polarised country, such 'middleground' feels like an antidote almost.
Kamal Haasan says all this and more with a gentle smile and characteristic humour, in simple conversational Tamil and a body language that reminds you of that intelligent, charismatic relative/friend whose visit you would look forward to, because he would always leave you with something more that what you already know. I presume this birthday for Kamal Haasan will be a milestone in many ways as he is set to celebrate it on the Bigg Boss set next week. On TV, there’s no big crowd, not too many mics, and the stage is only as big as your screen, and yet, there’s a social experiment being conducted between Kamal Haasan and you. Do you get it?