When Kamal Haasan stepped into the shoes of television host for the first season of Bigg Boss Tamil, he initially struggled to find his rhythm. Halfway through the season, just when the audience began falling in love with Oviya’s freewheeling personality, he also came into his own, mostly by mirroring the popular public emotions and opinions about the contestants of the show.
In season two, Haasan looked so bored and distracted. It seemed he could care less who lived or died on the show. He was slouching during his weekend episodes. He showed no enthusiasm or interest in confronting the housemates, even though the actions of some were very controversial. How I missed the Haasan, of season one, who at least sort of reflected my views. I felt the Haasan, of season two, was more worried about his priorities without being considerate about feelings of the viewers.
In his own words, he was the representative of the people on the show. Thus, he is obliged to treat every incident in the house with utmost seriousness. It was only fair to expect this considering that millions of viewers like me had invested precious hours of their lives every day of the week on the show. We had been following multiple story threads, tracking the progress of relationships as they evolve and more importantly fighting with other members of the family at the dinner table over which one was right and wrong.
It was not too much to ask given our emotional investment in the show. And, every time, Kamal Haasan did not meet the expectations as the host, failing to bring closure to the issues of the house, it left a huge void in the show.
After a lot of huffing and puffing, Haasan took the second season to the climax.
In the third season, the Vishwaroopam star has sunk his teeth into the show. He sticks to the script but he also seems to have drawn a line on things that he would do on the show. He has set a boundary and has established a strong authority. Within that limits, he gives the audience their money’s worth. He is no longer using the platform only to make curt political remarks. In short, he has started entertaining the audience.
Kamal Haasan handled the previous week, for example, with solid authority. On last Saturday’s episode, he delicately dealt with the controversies that erupted from the love triangle between Kavin, Sakahi and Losliya. Kamal behaved gentlemanly. He was sensible to the feelings of the contestants in the spotlight. He did not press any further than what could have felt like an invasion of their personal space, in spite of the voyeuristic nature of the show.
Who did Kavin (actually) like between Sakahi and Losliya? Was he faking his feelings towards Sakahi just for the sake of entertainment? Why did he suddenly become aloof by visibly trying to avoid Sakshi’s company? Was he worried that being close with Sakshi would affect his chances of winning the title? Is that the reason why he started interacting more with Losliya?
Kamal Haasan could have goaded Kavin into a breakdown which could have been sensational television. But, the 64-year-old superstar did not choose to do so. Instead, he simply told Kavin not to play with “people’s emotions” and moved on. In hindsight, I would have enjoyed such a line of questioning and grown ignorant to the mental agony inflicted on others by my overreaching curiosity. But, Haasan did not let me cross the line.
“You might have noticed that this is as far as I could go into this problem. And rest is up to them. Whether it’s a father or brother, this is it. You can’t get involved any further. If we do, it will be the intrusion of an individual’s privacy. Women will understand, but I’m not sure whether fathers (read men) will agree to it,” he told the studio audience in case they were expecting more probing from him.
That’s a valuable lesson to take away from a show that blurs the line between public life and private life.
On Sunday, Kamal Haasan opened the show with a monologue about why he thinks people, who believe that he has fallen from grace by associating himself with a show like Bigg Boss, were so utterly wrong. Long story short, he defended his decision to be the face of Bigg Boss Tamil. He even said he considered the show as “his greatest honour.”
Haasan seems to have no more doubts. He now completely owns the controversial television show. He would probably approach the show with the same passion that sustained him in the film industry for six decades. And he may also infuse the show with a lot of decency in the upcoming episodes.
Third time is the charm, right?