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CHATTING for a cause

His big screen image has helped actor-director Visu make the right connect with TV viewers, says

Pic: S. Siva Saravanan

IT IS called Arattai Arangam. The programme is tailor-made for Meenakshisundaram Ramasamy Viswanathan alias Visu. It suits his persona, for Visu was known as the talkative middle-aged man who represented the average middle-class Indian.

"I fitted into it quite well. In the beginning, the programme had more of arattai. But, it has now grown and is no more an arattai kutchery," acknowledges the actor-director and the anchor of this popular chat show on Sun TV.

In the city to select speakers for the programme, Visu spent some time talking about arattai and cinema. "Though it is not a casual talk show anymore, the title was retained for it has struck a chord with the viewers, " he says.

"The whole idea is to create awareness. It is a forum where people can get a better understanding of issues," he adds. To popularise the show, selection is being done in more towns now.

Visu has also been conducting "Junior arattai arangams" for children (not for telecast). Depending on the success, he plans to host exclusive shows for kids soon. "It is being done on an experimental basis. If it gains acceptance, one out of every four Arattai Arangams would be held exclusively for children," he says. How about the selection? "It is done by a committee. They give us reports about the area. The topic differs from place to place. Location-specific problems are also discussed. But everything depends on people's response."

Family in cinema

The man who is best known for weaving family-oriented themes bearing his impeccable stamp (remember all those punch lines in Samsaram adhu minsaram) on the marquee believes that there is no space for such subjects in cinema anymore.

"The audience for my movies were women. Let us face it. Today, you cannot bring them to theatres. As making such movies would not be a viable proposition, I decided to stay away."

Has the small screen taken that space? "Yes. Women like seeing family dramas on TV." And, so, Visu plans to make TV serials in the future.

Ask him about the fan following for sob stories on TV, and he says, "Even my wife is not an exception. When I look back, I wonder whether I am also responsible for this. But, I have always shown both the positive and negative aspects," he points out.

Emotional persona

Why does Arattai Arangam get emotional, at times? "I am basically an emotional person. I cannot hold back my emotions when a person narrates his/her trauma. It is unavoidable."

Hosting a chat show is not an easy job, he says. "There is an actor, director and a writer in me. Only if you have all these qualities can you conduct a talk show successfully. My experience in cinema helped me a lot. In such shows, you should be able to cut the conversation when it gets boring," he avers.

How did he manage to churn out so many family dramas? "It has a lot to do with my upbringing in Triplicane. Most people there hailed from joint families. The incidents in my neighbourhood were the themes for my films," he says. "A healthy person makes a healthy family. And a healthy family makes a healthy nation. I believe in this motto," he quips.

Through Arattai Arangam, Visu has taken up social issues and is also providing financial assistance to deserving students. "The Visu Educational Trust gives scholarships to students who participate in the Arattai Arangam selection."

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