A Blog on Cinema

Indecent Behavior


[coauthored with Nikhi Menon]

In the finale of Munch Star Singer Junior Mr. Jagathi Sreekumar made a speech in which he came out against the anchor Ranjini Haridas. Mimicking her style of speaking, which is Malayalam with an English accent, he said that the anchor should just do anchoring and should not have any opinion on the singing. You can see the video to realize the scorn he has for this anchor.

We have watched many finale episodes of Idea Star Singer and Munch Star Singer and never have seen a guest speak like this. Usually people come and say a few mild words of encouragement, show some stardom and go away. Jagathi instead gave a speech in which he went on and on and defined how people should behave. He praised Sujatha and Venugopal and ranted on Renjini who was standing next to him. In her own words:

Just the other day I was the victim of an individual who took advantage of his right to freedom of speech to publicly embarrass and ridicule me. Moreover, all this happened on national television! The man in question, who from now I shall refer to as Mr Moon, clearly overstepped the limits of what to say when and where, and to my agravation, had no regard or respect for the event at hand or the people concerned

Now you may like or dislike Renjini’s style of compering or her way of talking or having her own opinions. She is a very competent compere very able to handle any situation thrown at her. When some singers stop singing or have trouble, she very ably handles it. She is very opinionated and if you have watched her retorts at Sharath and ‘Sree Kuttan’, you will know she can handle herself quite well. It this personality that makes her a memorable compere compared to others who just utter what is told or do the bare minimum as Jagathi wants.

What Jagathi wants is not her to stop such things, but to stop passing judgement on the songs. He says only judges can pass judgement. Why? As someone who does not know to sing and is not musically trained, she is just like us. She is the common man. Her opinion is from that side and so far we have not found it ‘arochakam’. It never felt odd to us. So why this outburst? Is there another story we are missing here?

Now if she wanted to retort, Renjini could have said that Jagathi should stop acting in all those semi-porn movies, but she did not. She in fact wrote a weak piece in Deccan Chronicle. It is not for her to suggest what Jagathi should do, but such basic courtesy was not extended to her. This is a new low for Jagathi in the past year. We saw this is a new low because this is a man who wallows in the depths of civil behavior. To give another example, last year he was on television talking about his marriage to Mallika Sukumaran. At some point they divorced and he explained that the divorce ‘may’ have been due to their caste.

So the anchor asked once more if she ever mentioned anything like that and he said she did not. So in reality, he still has no idea why she left, but by throwing a caste issue into the mix he muddied the water. You can say, he did a Thilakan at that moment.

So we have few options for analysis. We can do the whole ‘savarna-avarna’ thing. Or we can notice that Jagathi rants mostly against strong women and dump some anti-feminism on him. But then this would be like trying to write a review of ‘Pokkiri Raja’ or ‘Sagar Alias Jackie’ when in fact there is a simpler explanation.

Nelbin raises an interesting point:

It was absolutely a scandalous behaviour from Jagadhi to say scathing comments about Ms.Haridas and the program she is hosting at such a big ceremony watched all over the world .Jagdhi managed to pull in great crowd support for his outrageous remarks on Ms.Hardis as they booed and jeered at her with the every word he uttered. Sadly Jagathi and those guys represent the last generation of malayalees with parochial attitude who take pleasure in taunting others in public

Yes, Jagathi does have the right to express his views and no one can blame him if he believes that Renjini and co are abusing our mother tongue with her ‘manglish’ but is this the way to show his disapproval? Shouldn’t he had shown the courtesy to tell her his views in person?

At this point, let’s look how Ms Renjini reacted to this insult. She could have easily retorted to him in the same manner or could have even did a ‘Sreesanth’(remember the bhajji-slap-incident?) but the brave girl that she is,maintained her calm and carried on with the show as if nothing had happened..!(C’mmon,thats’ what we call dignity,isn’t it?.)Mr. Jagathy instead of blessing and enlightening the ‘junior star singer’ winners about the potential film offers that could come their way(whom in all probabilities will be forgotten by every one,including jagathy by the next season of the show) chose to play it to the galleries and win himself some cheap publicity by dissing Ms Haridas in national television.

Jagathi is one of the greatest actors of Malayalam cinema on par with Nedumudi Venu, Thilakan, Mohanlal and Mammotty. But that does not make him a great human being. During the time of Prem Nazir, Jayan and Sathyan we did not have this much media coverage and we did not know how they were in real life. Now thanks to the 24 hour media and due to the willingness of these stars to throw up whatever comes to their mind on TV, we know what kind of scumbags they really are.


  1. Jagathi may be one the greatest actor, and handled many characters, but his real character is thani thara. Ranjani is professional and handled it well I guess.

  2. “It this personality that makes her a memorable compere compared to others who just utter what is told or do the bare minimum”

    If Ranjini can veer from the script, then why can’t Jagathy? I think he is not afraid to speak his mind ‘compared to others who just utter what is told’, and this attribute contributes to his personality just as well as it does to Ranjini’s. When Asianet decided to use Jagathy to market the show, they were banking on the pull of his personality as well. Let him use it as he pleases. What does vc expect us viewers to do? Watch shows where everyone pats each other on the back in affected congratulation, and to believe it is all genuine? It is far more worthwhile if the guests bare their true feelings than go blah blah on a memorized script. Afterall, ISS is a show that prides on being publicly hypercritical to its hugely talented contestants. We expect it is not for them to suddenly turn sensitive when someone puts in a couple of minimally abrasive words on ‘the so called national television’.

    Maybe we cannot all be the model Harrys who shiver to think of publicly acknowledging the fact that caste plays a role in marriage relationships. Mallika has her public forums, so she is free to counter his statements. Be kind enough to pardon Jagathy if he doesn’t have the strength to live up to the moral stipulates that vc has laid out for film personalities. Also, Ranjini, if she had not missed vc’s classes on moral behaviour, should not have written a piece referring to Jagathy as Mr. Moon and as the ‘so called’ great actor.

    We expect vc and Nikhi Menon to practise what they preach, so the next time they feel the urge to criticize any cine artist for their failings in acting, directing, screenplay, cinematography, editing or the like in any film, kindly refrain from posting those opinions as reviews here or anywhere else in the net, for it is as public a space as ‘the national television’. Instead, feel free to discuss the merits and demerits of each movie with the respective artist alone, in private.

    Happy moral policing!

  3. Jagathy has more than earned the right to speak his mind, whenever, wherever. Let there be no more superfluous holy cows.

  4. Agree completely with Abhilash. Spare us(your devoted readers) the moral lecturing please. I have gone through the entire video. There is not one word, which he has spoken that is not right. Anchors should not comment on a performance is a valid point that he raised. Ranjini is not a victim here as well. He did not directly attack her, did not humiliate. He used cultured language to get his point across.Hope vc refrains from such articles in the future.

  5. abhilash,

    You say

    If Ranjini can veer from the script, then why can’t Jagathy?

    How do you know what instructions were given to Ranjini by the management? I have worked on Idea Star Singer 4 with the director and have been in meetings before the show. In fact the director and the management have praised her for her spontanity and the handling of the situation many many times. Actually there is no “script” for her.

    What Jagathi did was insult someone. You can politely say something and you can say it in an insulting way. Jagathi acted without any ‘samskaram’.

    • I was only using the original article’s reference to personalities that go beyond doing just what they are told.

    • You are 100% right mr. justin, this is what i heard about Ranjini she doesn’t need any written script, thats what her strength, remember why remya raveendran changed because she can’t say anythng more than the script. and she does the babba bba in stage.

      here jagathi was trying for a show off only nothing else.

  6. Srijith,

    Why can’t anchors comment on a performance. That is just one opinion. The guys who make the program decided that anchors should have an opinion. If Jagathi does not like it, he should start another program where anchors will just do mime.

    Typical Malayalai male comments. This is not about comment or no comment. An opinionated woman – bad. An opinionated man – good. It seems like we are living in Saudi Arabia.

    Did you watch the video Srijith. Did you see how he imitated her style of speaking. Isn’t that humiliation or in your world that is fine. Don’t tell me Jagathi is a comedy star and all that. In all his interviews Jagathi does not do comedy, he puts on a serious act. So this is very strange.

    We need people like nikhi to take a stand against such boorish behaviour. Kudos.

  7. congrats nikhi. agree with you. jagathi showed his true behavior.

  8. Both parties in this dispute are celebrities. Both are succesful in their own way and doesn’t need anyone’s support. Now fact is that one person went overboard in a public forum where as the other one maintained dignity.

    @Abhilash: are you trying to push your brand of morality in this public forum? Maybe you should practice what you preach and keep your opinions to yourself.[But I can see why morals should not be brought up in a discussion about Jagathi]

    • Pushing my own brand of morality? Care to explain?

      Vc seems to set moral benchmarks for behaviour of other people and publicly judges people by the same. Ain’t that rather assuming and lofty? Why should Jagathy live by the moral standards of someone else? Who are we to define and dissect nuances of Jagathy’s behaviour? The papparazi?

  9. Jagathi lost his cool when Ranjani asked his opinion on who would win MSS finale. And I don’t think we can blame him for what he said, but it was totally inappropriate for him to mock Ranjani and her urban-accent with physical comedy. Also using the word “azhichu vittirikkunnu” was very offensive to a senior host like Ranjani. There is nothing wrong with Ranjani expressing her own opinions on performances. But when she asks other guests about their opinions, they have the option to politely refuse it. It is this politeness that was lacking in Jagathi’s response. He instead used it as opportunity to charade his dislike for Ranjani’s strong personality and her accent. Typical Malayali male attitude…

    In modern times, any language that is thriving and surviving has to be flexible enough to support an urban accent. It is not any different from the existing Trissur accent, Thiruvananthapuram accent or Kannur accent. And Ranjani now-a-days speaks mostly very good Malayalam on ISS, she uses English only for the punch lines. Actually, MSS host Nasriya needs to be careful about over-using English in her compering.

    Anyway, I will be lying myself if I didn’t laugh at Jagathi’s performance at MSS. It very much reminded me of his master piece performance from Thalavattom (“Thaanaaruva..?” to Soman), including the last repenting statement 🙂

  10. I totally agree with the article. Jagathy’s comments were completely offensive and only went to show how highly petty he is. I will admit that Renjini does annoy me sometimes, but the way she reacted to this episode must be admired. I LOVED the fact that she retorted by saying that she brought this upon herself (by inviting Jagathy to speak). If Jagathy thinks that hosts of shows are not allowed to have an opinion, then neither should guests at a show have the right to opinionate on a host !! (note that jagathy was not a guest judge but a guest). Jagathy’s whole rant was in bad taste and honestly, made me at one point wonder if he was a bit ‘high’ (you know, on good ol’ spirits).

  11. Everyone is entitled to their own personal opinions and in a public forum they can exercise their right to express the same albeit in a decent and acceptable way. But to ridicule a person, a lady for that matter, while doing so in a public function where tiny tots were supposed to be the center of attraction… That’s disgusting!!! I also don’t like the way Ranjini Haridas anchors and for the same reason I do not see ISS and any of the final events where she is the anchor… But that does not give us the right to humiliate her like Jagathi did. And considering his stature in the society as one of the leading senior character actors in Malayalam film industry, he has stooped very low!! Ranjini, as well, using a public newspaper like DC to retort to the issue is bad… I would have understood if she had vented out her feelings in her personal blog but not in a newspaper that has a good reach among common folks.

  12. To those wondering why VC can’t comment on this issue:

    What Jagathi did was very much a ‘cinema news’ and VC has all the rights to express their views on it. If someone else thinks otherwise, they have all the freedom to post their opinion. There doesn’t seem to be any moral policing involved here. VC is a forum for expressing views without restrain. Let’s keep it that way. Or else it will be just another bland news source. (I am just another regular here and not associated with VC)

    With regards to the issue, Jagathi, like Achuthanandan, has been hailed by our media as a person who speaks his mind. This freedom is regularly misused by both of them these days (remember VS commenting on the temple treasures?).

    If Jagathy says Ranjini can’t comment on the participants, what right does he have to comment on Ranjini’s performance? Does he mean that even if a participant sings exceedingly well, Ranjini has no rights to say some good words? Like it or not, Ranjini’s informal nature is what makes her stand out of all the other anchors. Her Malayalam has improved leaps and bounds, and she seems to be consciously avoiding using any English.

    The bigger irony with Jagathy is, why did he comment on the stage that Yadu Krishnan is a better singer than others? What qualifications does he have to comment on music?

    I think Jagathy is the one who needs to practice what he preaches.

  13. happy to see some sensible comments here…

  14. ramesh, nikhi et al,

    The conflict in vc’s stance is too obvious to need pointing out. Vc’s advice to Jagathy is to avoid criticising Ranjini’s performance publicly. Rather he should have discussed any differences with her in private, they say. However, vc almost always rubbishes artists’ performances in movies publicly, often in more severe language than Jagathy chose to use, and doesn’t feel any qualms about it. They never seem to hold back any when criticising the artists for their actions beyond the screen either. And, after sermonising about the ethics Jagathy should follow when talking about others, vc goes on to openly call him a scumbag in front of the world. The duality is perplexing. Ranjini cannot sue Jagathy for what he said, but Jagathy surely has enough and more grounds to get a conviction against vc for defamation. That is, if he cares. To criticise Jagathy, vc assumes a moral high horse they cannot claim.

    Very evidently, vc doesn’t like to live by the rules it dishes out to Jagathy.

  15. i totally agree with the articles viewpoint. it was a very uncouth behaviour from jagathy. he unleashed his tirade against her with the full knowledge that she won’t retort to these comments on stage in a way exploiting the decency of the other person!

  16. Abhilash,

    I don’t get how you connect VC’s stance on the issue with what Jagathy did on stage.

    VC is a platform for some serious debates, criticisms and praises on issues related to Movies and Music. VC has the right and should rubbish crap movies dished out week after week. I truly believe movies like Traffic and Salt n Pepper are results of such widespread criticism from youngsters. And if you claim that Jagathy can sue a media publication for taking a stance, I can only take it as a joke.

    If Ranjini was a movie star, I’m sure VC would have ripped her too for her pronunciation in the earlier days.

    What everyone feel wrong about Jagathy’s statements is not really on what he said, but the occasion he chose to make those comments. He was not at some TV interview, but a public function which was telecast live. Unless media deplore these kind of behavior, this won’t be the last time we see people like Jagathy taking undue advantage of a given opportunity.

    • I don’t see how they aren’t connected. Fundamentally they are the same behaviour.

      Are you contending the media have the right to call anybody a scumbag or scoundrel or any expletive they choose without fear of repercussions simply because they are the media?

      Secondly, you suggest that vc, being a reviewer, has the right to rubbish any artist’s performances in strong language publicly, but Jagathy doesn’t have the same. Now, is this laid out by any authority on such rights, or is it just your convenient presumption? Either way, by that argument, I think the issue would be solved to everybody’s satisfaction if Jagathy declares himself as a reviewer of artists’ performances. It isn’t as if a licensing authority decides who can review and who can’t.

  17. Looks like Abhilash got caught in the web of his own arguments – entagled. Let’s put things in perspective. Chronologically Jagathi’s indecent act came first. vc responded to that. Not the other way round. And last checked Indian constitution allows free speech. And thats why Jagathi could trash Ranjini publicly, VC could write a log post about that and Abhilash could criticize the blog post. I seriously dont understand what’s Abhilash’s problem here.

  18. Firstly Jagathi comments were all over the place, hypocritical and insensitive to say the least. I am pretty sure he might have had couple of “nilpans” before attending the function. Very similar to the Kanye West debacle last year. Alcohol does things to you generally.

    The most confusing and funny part about Jagathi’s comments that no one other than judges should judge contestants is that he is in fact talking and being sensitive about a show that has common public, who according to him should not have the right to judge, sends in SMSs and decides who stays and who leaves. The show is purely based on public opinion and as far as that goes any person including Ranjini Haridas and Jagathi’s Father in Law can state his opinion. The worst part is that after all the verbal diarrhea, he went on to comment that according to him that little boy ought to win.

    That being said, we all make fun of Ranjini’s accent, we also make fun of our politicians, actors etc there is a time and place for that. We malayalis have this parody trend that’s going on with great prominence. But making fun of people and making spiteful remarks underlined with contempt and loathing is not expected of people like Jagathi.

    Jagathy can lift his lungi and show his “kavala” to the public but that does not mean he should and that if he does so it is right.

  19. I fully agree with Jagathy sreekumar on his comment on Renjini’s anchoring. He speaks on his knowledge and experience in 30 year cine industry.

  20. A very crass gimmick on a public channel. Certainly a sore message in this day and age of professional etiquette. While I have never been a huge fan of Ms Ranjini’s compering, this episode shows us that she’s more of a professional than meets the eye. My respect for Mr Jagathyhas just slipped a few good notches! He seems to forget that he’s an artiste too, and that he was sharing space on the same stage as the anchor. He should have realised- if not verbally acknowledged- that the anchor was as important a component in the whole plot- as he was, as a judge. Please, Mr. Jagathy Sreekumar- the times have changed, for God’s sake!

  21. Well Jagathy is a comedian who could talk without bell and break, he might have thought that, this was an opportunity for him to disgrace a lady who maintains rather high profile. However, now Jagathy’s rating has gone down to drain after watching his humiliating and abusing comment to a profiled lady in public.

    But to my surprise, that lady Ranjini had handled that particular situation in the very best manner and now I have lot of respect to her than before.

    Ranjini, be careful, there are indecent guys holding stardom position and make sure, you are not trapped in it.

  22. Pingback: Hating Prithviraj | varnachitram

  23. Jagathi was right…note the thundering applause he recieved at the show when he said what most malayalees wanted to tell her..also this site is biased in showing jagathi’s pic as a drunk and renjini in official kerala costume.. she has said on several occasions she hates kerala and its culture. So why dp we suppport her. She is also a bad role model …an example of how young women SHOULD not grow up to be. a [Insulting comments about women snipped-vc] ..who will [More insulting comments about women snipped-vc].. she hates marriage, she hates all our traditions. she wants to speak English cos she spent just 2 yrs in the UK..

  24. The site may not have posted Jagathy’s photo like this.

  25. Is This site created by Ms Haridas ?? Wat abt the 4 fingers compared to a single finger pointing others !!??

  26. totally agree with the article…….if people with no knowledge about music should not comment on any perfrmances then the channel should not ask the generala public to vote for the contestants who they think are deserving….totally contradictry…and i too feel that jagathy sir showed male chauvnist kind of an attitude…whr opiniated women r put forward as ‘ahankaris’ and illmannerd…..

  27. Too bad! Just like a coin has two sides, there are supporters for Ms. Haridas and of course for mr. Jagathi!
    I am not a great fan of Haridas or Jagathi. One is a great tv anchor , other one is a great cine artist. I am of the opinion that in a public ceremony like this, the young and immature person appeared more dignified than the older, mature, sensible cine artist.
    God forbid for saying this.. Of Course, The Almighty God was watching the show too! Hopefully, Jagathi will be able to say a few words like this soon!

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.

Get Adobe Flash player