[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.