Basil Thomas was just a businessman until he took part in the first season of the reality show for families – ‘Veruthe Alla Bharya’– on Mazhavil Manorama, with his wife, Suma, and emerged the winner. That opened his door to fame. Now he hosts ‘Thani Naadan’, a cookery-cum-travelogue show, on the channel and is a cine artiste as well. The affable, roly-poly Basil who takes pride in his chubbiness being a “fatty”, talks about his trysts with television and Mollywood. Excerpts:

From contestant to host

The transition was not very tough. What really helped was the fact that I am an ultimate foodie. I enjoy trying out all kinds of food. Perhaps, I was the best person to promote the show! Though I’ve had no previous experience in front of the camera, my experience in anchoring programmes at our church in Kothamangalam where I led a 130-member choir came handy.

On your anchoring skills

I try to be my natural self on the show, tasting and enjoying the dish with gusto. In fact, people have called up to say that they crave for a particular food when they watch me relishing it on the show! There seems to be no end for the kind of cuisines you have in Kerala. I consider myself lucky to be tasting such delicious food. Though I’m not a very good cook, I experiment with food. I often take food in odd combinations – like beef roast and buttermilk, and have really come up with some exciting results.

How different is the show?

There are cookery-cum-travelogue shows on almost all channels. So, we’ve to ensure that viewers really like this show. ‘Thani Naadan’ is about traditional dishes from across Kerala. So we had ‘perumkooman’ (mushroom) roast from Wayanad and meat pickle from Kothamangalam. Many interesting dishes are coming up.

Life-changing moments

There was a dull period in my professional life after successful stints as a medical representative, a bank official and a businessman. It was then that ‘Veruthe…’ happened and here I’m as a television host and actor. All this happened because I broke certain misconceptions you often associate with people who are over-weight. I showed and proved that over-weight people are no better or worse than a person who is not on the heavy side. Recently I was invited to inaugurate a meeting organised by over-weight people. They told me that after seeing me on television, they are now allowed to eat whatever they want!

As an actor

I can’t tell you how much I love acting. I’ve been a crazy Kamal Hassan fan from childhood and might have seen Saagara Sangamam some 25 times. I learnt Bharatanatyam, Kalaripayattu, singing, tabla… just to be like him. There is this song in the movie, ‘Thakida thakida’ picturised on Kamal sir, in which he is seen dancing on top of a well. In fact, I placed a plank atop the well at my home and tried to dance, but fell into it! Though nothing happened on the acting front, music has always been part of my life and I used to run a ganamela troupe when I was 15. Now, thanks to ‘Veruthe…’, I got the role in Da Thadiya. I’ve also acted in Rajasenan’s 72 Model and Sugeeth’s Three Dots.

(‘Thani Naadan’ is aired on Sundays on Mazhavil Manorama at 11.30 a.m.)