Each episode of her celebrity-chat show Natpudan Apsara goes viral, minutes into its release. Affairs, brawls and celebrity schadenfreude - journalist-turned-TV host Apsara Reddy serves these with simple sobriety. With her one-year-old show already bobbing on high waves of TRPs, Apsara talks about her USP and how being a transgender was never a snag.
Natpudan Apsara is telecast on Thanthi TV every Saturday at 8 pm. Apsara explains how the show is a tonic for those weary of fame-addled talks. “Most chat shows I have seen give interviewees a star image. There is lot of mollycoddling and the conversation sounds superficial. Apart from their professional commitment, every star has family, love, affair, commitment. My show brings out this real person in them,” she says.
She recalls episodes where Namitha opened up about her issues with a few producers and Hansika disclosed her relationship with Simbu. Browse further for the past episodes on YouTube, and you can see Jayam Ravi speaking about his caravan kiss, Varalakshmi and Vishal’s subtle romance, or Mirchi Shiva narrating a moving account of his visit to orphanage.
“It is about being comfortable and making them comfortable. When they enter the sets, I want them to feel they are coming to a lounge to have a casual conversation with friends,” she says. “I insist on honest replies. I know when a person is lying on my face and I tell them directly, ‘Listen, you are lying to me’! as the camera keeps rolling,” she adds.
There have been cases where a few have refused to answer, she admits. “Uma Riyaz Khan threatened to walk out when she found a few questions uncomfortable. I did not stop her. But then she came back and we continued with the show,” she says.
The popularity of the show had her receiving invitations to the Tiecon conference that had nearly 2,000 Indian entrepreneurs, where she spoke about how to create an identity of one’s own. A frequent speaker at colleges and corporates, Apsara will also be seen delivering a lecture at NASSCOM this month.
With someone who has striven hard to mould her life to suit her passion, Apsara deserves the spotlight on stage. Giving a glimpse about her past, she says, “From a young age I always felt like a girl. There was a time when I thought god created women and as a sort of punishment created men.” She continues, “As I grew old, I thought I was gay. But then it was a different sort of a feeling. I felt more like a woman.”
With family and friends standing by her decision, she decided to go for sex change. “I started going for gender counselling sessions and also had hormone therapy done through proper medical practices,” she says.
Unlike the woes of discrimination heard from other transgenders, Apsara says she has never been discriminated or abused. “Be it in Pondy Bazaar or Flying Elephant, everyone has been extremely warm and welcoming to me,” she says. “One needs to get rid of the victim syndrome, accept who they are and stand by it,” says Apsara, who has done her bachelors in Investigative Journalism and Marketing from Australia, and Masters in Developmental Economics from London.
Apsara, who plans to enter politics in the next five years, says “I don’t believe in being a crusader for my own cause. I don’t want to be walking on streets holding banners. Asking for rights is not the way forward. It should be part of our social policy,” she says. She continues in a valiant tone, “Of course, there is workplace discrimination. Of course, people are going to react strangely seeing a transgender. But this is because of their lack of knowledge. If I am intelligent than others I am working with, obviously they will listen to me.”
Meanwhile, she is busy authoring a book about building a strong identity, a cookbook with her grandmas recipes, planning the launch of Apsara sarees and of course, gearing up for Natpudan Apsara Season 2.