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Bigg Boss Simbu was the big news in entertainment this week. It was a surprise choice by Vijay TV but probably an experiment well worth it.

Five seasons of Bigg Boss only had the viewers asking for more. Their thirst for entertainment hadn’t yet been quenched apparently. Bigg Boss Ultimate with a higher voyeuristic quotient was floated. Viewers could watch the house 24/7. Popular contestants of past Bigg Boss shows played in it. Big Boss Ultimate was supposed to be more striking and sparkling than the original Bigg Boss. Kamal Haasan hosted the event; but just for 27 days. On Feb. 20 he announced that he was walking out on the program owing to his work commitments.

The reason he cited for his decision was that he had to make up for the delay in completing the shoot of his film ‘Vikram’. But fans were not quite convinced. The rumour mills started working, dishing out speculation about his quitting.  But the grapevine is beside the point. Kamal has left. Period!

Then arose the question who would succeed Kamal. Last time when he was down with Corona, actor Ramya Krishnan hopped on to the stage as a substitute.  This time the chance befell actor Silambarasan aka Simbu who, appearing in a promo video of Disney-Hotstar, confirmed the news. “You didn’t expect it; do you? Neither did I,” he said, setting off expectations about his new avatar.

Generally when one is engaged in some work, if he/she has to be away and someone else is put in charge of the work, the replacement’s style would be compared with the predecessor’s.  So, Simbu cannot escape being compared with Kamal he is now replacing.

Simbu was born a year after the film ‘Sakalakala Vallavan’ featured Kamal in his prime. Hence, comparing Bigg Boss Simbu with Bigg Boss Kamal is like comparing Nehru and Modi as prime ministers.

Simbu was quick to portray himself as not a replacement or a substitute for Kamal. After all, Kamal belonged to the generation of Simbu’s father T Rajendar; to be exact, Kamal is a senior to TR by several years. Simbu was born a year after the film ‘Sakalakala Vallavan’ featured Kamal in his prime. Hence, comparing Bigg Boss Simbu with Bigg Boss Kamal is like comparing Nehru and Modi as prime ministers.

However, logic and reason being anathema to the emotional world of showbiz, both actors, apart in age and experience, will come under the scanners of the dedicated viewers of Big Boss.  Points and counterpoints will be flung from both camps. Let us briefly bring to light the similarities and dissimilarities between the two popular actors.

Like Kamal, Simbu too broke into the tinsel world as a child artiste. But while Kamal breezed into Tamil cinema as an articulate child, the latter came into the camera spotlight well before he acquired speech faculty. Kamal was the first actor from his family. Simbu had the privilege of being a son of a popular actor and director. Kamal once had the distinction of being branded as a romantic prince (‘kaadhalilavarasan’) while Simbu was, if informally, hailed as ‘manmathan’ (Cupid).

Now that Kamal is well past his prime, showing signs of age, it will be inappropriate to compare an old Kamal with a young Simbu. Kamal is actually a master and Simbu a disciple. Big Boss Simbu is no less a fit endowed with all faculties as Kamal to meet the demands of the host role.

So, it stands to reason that Vijay TV has chosen Bigg Boss Simbu. That he is comparatively younger than his predecessor is his major plus point since the purely entertainment-oriented TV show mainly targets the young.

Bigg Boss Simbu may be lacking in the intellectual quotient that gave the program a certain veneer of seriousness. Yet chances are that his youthful exuberance and enthusiasm will help to take the show in a different direction.

Kamal’s intellectualism may have given an excuse to a few to indulge in the voyeurism that drives the show.

Controversy is the hereditary property of scholars and poets, said ace comedian Nagesh in the film ‘Tiruvilaiyaadal’. Had he been alive now, he would have modified his comment, saying they are the permanent property of Bigg Boss. The contestants brought enough controversy and skirmish to the show to titillate and entertain the audience. Relationships were struck, broken and reinvented inside the Bigg Boss house. If Simbu, a ‘Vallavan’ (strongman) and an avowed bachelor, comes calling in the garb of ‘Bigg Boss,’ can controversy be far behind? The organizers of the show have probably thought on these lines. Controversy sells! And Simbu brings controversy with his rakish ladies man image.

There is a well-known Tamil maxim that says, “What should one wear a veil for, after being fully drenched in the waters?” It connotes the absence of pretensions.

Kamal’s intellectualism may have given an excuse to a few to indulge in the voyeurism that drives the show. For others, the show only meant what it actually is. The pretend is gone.

On Day One itself, Bigg Boss Simbu guaranteed participants boundless fun and joy. To him, Big Boss’ motto is entertainment. Simbu will not try to out-Kamal Kamal. There will be fun and games. For Simbu, it appears relationships are for fun. They have a certain use, not mean a deeper bond.

By the way, Kamal has called his absence as interval time. If he really meant what he said, he might come back. Till that time, it’s Simbu’s game through and through.

Will Simbu play the game as a master? Or will he play it just like a player on the bench?


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