Sivakumar’s recent interaction with the audience in Kumbakonam will be a treat for Deepavali, on Vijay.

Another solo show by actor Sivakumar, speaker extraordinaire, is all set to reach your homes this Deepavali. Gone are the days when pattimandrams (debates) were the staple of festive occasions on Tamil satellite channels. In the past few years, Sivakumar’s fresh avatar as a speaker of eminence is proving a strong contender for the morning slot on special occasions. The talk that you will witness on Vijay TV, November 13, 7.30 – 9 a.m., was recorded at Kumbakonam, at a recent function to mark the opening of the 25 showroom of Ramraj Cotton. “Nagaraj of the firm is a diehard fan of my addresses and insisted that I speak on the occasion. But I felt dialogue should take the place of a monologue,” says Sivakumar.

Q & A sessions aren’t new to him. ‘Naerukku Naer’ at Namakkal, telecast during Pongal this year, was one where the audience got a chance to ask him questions. In fact, a few were quite a challenge to field. But Sivakumar’s acumen helped him skirt some, and field others in a forthright manner. “It comes with experience, I suppose,” he remarks. He’s been on stage delivering lectures for nearly seven years now. “This will be ‘Naerukku Naer 2.’ I enjoy interacting with my audience.” Sivakumar’s intro that lists stalwarts such as Srinivasa Sastri, who’ve made Kumbakonam proud, sets in motion a riveting exchange with the audience.

The prowess of the man who single-handedly keeps the audience spellbound for more than an hour is admirable! “Many have told me that my stage sojourns are unheard of anywhere on television,” he comments.

A sneak peek into NN2 reveals an organised, sensible manner of questioning that can’t be quite extempore. “That’s because they aren’t,” replies Sivakumar. “We requested people to send in queries they wish to ask me, and the response was encouraging.” From the 100 questions that came in Sivakumar selected 23. The answer seekers appear quite coherent and confident. “Ah, that’s because I zeroed in on the regulars at my speeches. Some of them have travelled to all the places where my programmes were organised. And they were quite comfortable facing the camera,” he says. “This time round, I’ve not touched upon my personal life.”

The tagline for the programme is ‘Actors of Tamil Cinema’s Golden era’ (‘Tamizh Cinemavin Porkala Kalaignargalai Patri’). I’ve spoken about MGR, Gemini Ganesan and Nagesh, to name a few. All these accompanied with interesting visuals! But it also has a few aphorisms, some advice and relevant references to the Mahatma. “At no point am I didactic. The insights will be refreshing because they come with a personal, emotional touch,” explains the orator. For a poser on his favourite hero, listen to Sivakumar speaking on the storehouse of talent, Sivaji Ganesan, for 24 minutes! The two-hour-twenty-minute long event at Kumbakonam has been curtailed to fit a one-hour-10-minute slot. “But Moser Baer is coming out with the unedited version in a month’s time. Enthusiasts can catch up with it soon,” he informs.

As a person who has watched it uncut, I realise editing NN2 must have been a challenge! “I did it myself so that the flow isn’t affected. When I told litterateur and speaker, Tamizharuvi Manian, that I intend pruning the programme, he exhorted, ‘Please don’t scissor the segment on Sivaji Ganesan.’ That’s the kind of sentiment ‘NN2’ will evoke,” he elaborates.

Sivakumar, an ace artist, presented actor Padmini his painting of her as she looked in her heyday. Later on hearing the news of her death, he had gone over to her place, and there was the body of the queen and beside it, the painting! The lamp near it enhanced the glow of the visage in the picture!

Check out ‘NN2’ folks! It’s worth it.