Host of the moment

Host of the moment

Host of the moment
Tonight, the final guest on the talk show Weekend with Ramesh - Season 3 will look back at his life from a gigantic red vantage point called the achiever’s chair. Yet another unique journey will unravel along an emotional spectrum in front of the audience. And the show’s frontman who sews up the segments smoothly, Ramesh Aravind, will have hosted 66 episodes (or 66 stories) during the course of Weekend with Ramesh, which began in 2014.

His mantle of a TV host is younger than his roles as an actor (his 100th movie was Pushpaka Vimana, 2017), director, producer, writer… Younger still is his much-adored online presence as a motivational speaker. As an ambassador for a company that rents workspace in the city, Aravind collaborates with them to bring out short videos rich in motivational talks and anecdotes (available on Youtube).

The 52-year-old star, dressed in smart casuals on the day of meeting, speaks in energetic decibels about the show and its impact. Excerpts from the interview:

How’s it being the host of a show demanding of emotions and energy?
Because we shoot two episodes for the weekend, I stand for nearly 12 hours every time. And I can’t let my energies drop during shootings. Sometimes, it gets physically tiring. But what I like about the show is that every moment I’m connected to the guest. It is hours of eye-to-eye contact with the guest. And we end up connecting well.

Why do you think the show has been doing well?
The show has a peculiar format. It’s not a full revelation of a person. I choose to not show certain negative degrees. I don’t want my guests in any controversies. There is a segment in the show that talks about ups and downs of life. We let our guests choose whether to talk about it or not. And I’ll not do anything that’s not up to my nature. I’ll try to get out information as tactfully and diplomatically as I can. And try to show the better side of the person. Nobody is perfect, and imperfections also make for lovely TRPs, I know this. But I choose not to take that road. And that’s worked well for the show. It’s a totally positive show.

Would people really believe that all’s positive?
I’m just trying to show the better side of a person; what are the things that have made the guest successful. Why we tell their stories is not only to celebrate their success, but to give hope to the audience to think, ‘I can make it big’, that ‘I have it in me’, ‘I choose not to settle for the lesser life.’ I’ve always had a family audience... I have a huge youth audience now because of the show. Some people promise me they’ll sit on the red chair someday. It has become an ultimate certificate for achievement. People take photographs with the chair. Some salute it.

How much is your involvement in the choice of guests?
I leave the choices to the channel. I don’t like comments about favouring somebody, because most of the guests are my friends from the film industry.

In the beginning, most of your guests were from the film industry, then they came from other vocations as well…
The whole point of the show is to inspire people… youngsters. And cinema is just one small section of our society. I’ve always insisted on including success stories of people from non-entertainment background. We did try to reach Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid. It didn’t work out. Also, the channel was a bit worried about TRPs, naturally. But we did get good responses when we made the change.

Of the 65-plus guests, not more than 12 are women…
Oh, really? That’s not intentional. I do think we should have more women guests on the show.

You’ve often mentioned the show has been a learning experience for you. How?
In a lot of ways. You start wondering, ‘Was I as good a brother as this guy?’; ‘Am I as good a friend as this guy?’ Some people’s equation with money is different. One of the guests has done about 5,000 episodes for a TV channel without taking money. I would never do that! You realise all are struggling in their own way. We all want validation from people… basic security, respect, our family to be happy. Some people go about getting them quietly. Some people are desperate.

Which bit of the show do you enjoy the most?
Unexpected moments that show up in between the show. Yesterday, (Hiremagalur) Kannan was reading a letter he had written as if it was written by his dead wife. He had read it on his wife’s funeral day in front of a thousand people, I believe. When such things fall on the ear, my imagination runs wild. But I’m an actor; I have a hold on my emotions and can carry on with the show.

Will there be a next season of ‘Weekend with Ramesh’?
Yes, because we have guests from the non-entertainment industry. We are thinking of changing its format a bit, but our idea is the same – to inspire people. It’s getting tougher to bring people to the chair because audience’s expectations have become high. Well, it’s good. I want them not to expect less from me. Let people’s expectations be high. Then I’ll fight and try my best to meet them.

To the youth, you would say...
Never do anything half-heartedly. Say no if you don’t like the work. If you’re confused, say you’re not sure. But if you are into it, you must do it well throughout. When asked for advice, be it by an aspiring assistant director, mechanic, journalist… I always say, ‘Read’.
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