Bigg Boss Tamil is back, and with it, its charismatic host, Kamal Haasan, returns too. We catch up for a chat with the actor, for whom much has changed since the first season of Bigg Boss. He's since announced his political entry and followed through with some impressive legwork. On the film front, the release date of his long-pending Viswaroopam sequel has been announced. But for the moment, all eyes are on Bigg Boss, which was launched yesterday.
You've previously spoken about how you think Bigg Boss Tamil to be a social experiment. Do you still think that?
Yes. It doesn't stop being that just because I am a politician now. Back then, I couldn't reveal my plans but yes, I did use the platform for growth in the trajectory I was on.
Were there concerns about doing television?
Professionally, there were many who advised me against television but for me, the demography was a big attraction, as was the opportunity to talk to them. I was approached earlier by the same television channel for other programmes and I had refused. But this time, it just felt right. It seemed like a mutually beneficial arrangement.
But, it wasn't like you realised the power of television only now. You wanted to release Vishwaroopam Direct-To-Home.
Back then I didn't know why the government became so angry at me for wanting to release a film via DTH. I didn't realise that the government was investing in theatres back then and that, my move was a threat to them. I was their nemesis because of their vested interests. It took me a long time for me to understand that underlying truth but it was too late by then. But, in my righteous wrath, I took on the government headed by the indomitable Chief Minister J Jayalalitha. At a time when everyone was cowtowing, I sued the TN government as a lone producer and got away with it.
What's your expectation about Season 2 of Bigg Boss Tamil?
Season 2 has to be better than Season 1. That is the only given. Or taken (laughs). But that doesn't mean I am wiser. I am still on the path of learning and will continue having meaningful conversations without euphemisms, winks or eye-rolls. My purpose is now out in the open. I have intentionally placed myself in open light. 'Odavum mudiyadhu, oliyavum mudiyadhu' (you can't run, nor can you hide).
A big part of Season 1 was your having conversations with the viewers during the weekends.
We are going to have more conversations -- outside of Bigg Boss too -- and negotiate the path ahead of us. It is our path. We have to prepare for what is coming our way. There are a lot of people who are willing to do the right thing but they are all waiting for the right answers. I don't have something instantly ready for them to function on. That discussion will be long, but it will happen.
There were complaints from some contestants that footage was edited to misrepresent them.
I worked on a film called Arangetram for 60 days, but in the film, I get shown for only 7 minutes. I didn't complain because the film is K Balachander's, and he knew the whole format (to tell the story he needs). You cannot have 24/7 coverage of every person. Contestants who are complaining should understand that the show is a bit like life itself. There's only limited exposure. Even in films, when you are not part of the narrative unfolding on the screen, you seem just like a blur. Even politicians are upset that their faces aren't shown in the news when their names are read out.
Any words for the audience on what they should expect from Season 2?
I hate to give or take advice. What I will however say is that the primer for how to enjoy Bigg Boss is there in the advertisement itself. You should understand it is a game and not a commentary about its participants. He/she who comes to the show can change and the show acts as a mirror. For the audience too, it is a mirror. You watch and reflect on yourself, and learn from the mistakes of the contestants. It's all quite economical, I must say.
In a sense, Bigg Boss Tamil is all about perspectives.
Let me give you an example. Nobody likes their mother during teenage. You don't want to have them around when you are, say, meeting beautiful girls. But I am yet to to find a woman who loved me as much as my mother did. Sure, she was always frowning/rolling her eyes at me. But it is not a reflection of who she was. Her behaviour was a reflection of my character. That is life, and more often than not, you realise this when it's all too late or when they are dead. A lucky few are great pals with their parents. Even though I fought with my parents, I was great friends with my dad. While my mom was mostly worried about me entering this industry, my father was an optimist. Appearances are deceptive and theirs was too. It is not only about Kamal the man. It's also about Kamal, the MNM president. I can't judge potential partners or alliances by mere appearances.
We were surprised at the end of Bigg Boss Season 1 when you announced Indian 2. Any surprises in store this time?
I hope there are. I like to be surprised. (laughs)
While on films, what's the status of Sabaash Naidu?
Soon after this (Bigg Boss Tamil), I will resume work on Sabash Naidu. Half of that film is complete. I will do Indian 2 after that. But for that Shankar has to first finish 2.0. So, in short, 2 to 2 to 2 to 2 (a reference to the joke in Anbe Sivam).
You said you wanted to raise the standard of debate in the state. Will Bigg Boss Tamil serve as a means to that end?
During my youth, politicians behaved in a certain way. However, right now, what exists is only a caricature of a good politician. Izhandha maanbai meetedukka vendum. Arasiyalla maanbu irukku. That paradise needs to be regained.