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Inimitable Visu

Visu's "Arattai Arangam" is hugely popular here and abroad.

VISU DOES not mince words. Initially, his frankness takes you by surprise, and soon you begin to respect the man for it. The yesteryear master of family drama in cinema is today's chat show doyen on the small screen. It is more than 10 years since his `Arattai Arangam' took off on Sun TV, and it is still going strong.

"I didn't get enough work in cinema. So I thought of beginning this kind of a show," he begins. That's candour, Visu style. "But cinema is the visiting card that gave me easy entry and instant recognition, when I began the chat show," says Visu. The concept was new to Tamil television and viewers lapped it up. That was the time when channels were flooded with serials [not that there's much respite now]. Visu wasn't interested in them [though he's acted in a couple of them]. Neither would his `... Arangam' be a debating club, he decided. One topic would be chosen and unknown speakers would be called upon to voice their views. The session would include a guest speaker. That was the format adopted in the nascent stages.

Accent on service

Over the years " ... Arangam" has been taking on new dimensions, with an accent on service activities. "With the show being such a success, we began travelling." The

"... Arangam" team began to make forays into towns and cities within the country and without too. Jakarta, Singapore, Malaysia, Muscat, Dubai and Bahrain gave a rousing reception to the team. The next year they plan a halt in the U.S. "To be honest, I never thought it will go on like this ... "

Visu tries to introduce novelty wherever possible. So recently, you've been watching children sharing a thought or two on the mike. Without exception, they are good speakers — lucid in ideas and intrepid in expression. At the same time, they sound too mature ... even presumptuous. Generally, the modulation and tone of all "Arattai ... " speakers sound similar. A selection committee is in charge of choosing speakers with potential. The topic is given a week in advance. Visu himself suggests the topics.

Out of cinema

He seems to be totally out of cinema these days ... Pat comes the response: "Not that everyone is queuing outside my house to book me as the director." Even if it's not direction, he can still continue acting ... "That I do. But I tell them that they ought to utilise my dates properly. If they agree I go ahead. At the moment I am doing Ajit's `Ji' and the Satyaraj film, `Maha Nadigan.'"

Otherwise "Arattai Arangam" takes up most of his time. "And at my age (59), it is physically exhausting. I have to stand for six to seven hours at a stretch for the shoot. What you see is the edited version, after all the goof ups and hiccoughs have been cut out ... of course, my wife is always around to help me go through the session smoothly," he says.


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