Actor and politician Kamal Haasan returned to host the fifth season of Tamil reality television show Bigg Boss which premiered on Friday, October 3. In the first episode of the season, the actor introduced all 18 contestants who will be participating this time, including actors, television personalities, singers and entrepreneurs among others. Before the show began, the contestants reportedly underwent a mandatory quarantine in compliance with COVID-19 protocol.
From the new sets of the show, which includes an underground jail, to the interesting lineup of contestants, highlights from the first episode garnered the attention of viewers who are eagerly waiting to watch the show.
Here’s the full list of Bigg Boss Tamil Season 5 contestants:
> Namitha Marimuthu
Actor and model Namitha Marimuthu, a trans woman, has joined the reality show as a participant. Representing India at Miss Trans Star International, a beauty pageant for trans women, Namitha emerged as the winner in the year 2020. She will be the first trans woman to participate in Bigg Boss Tamil. Heaping praises on the actor who made her debut with Tamil movie Naadodigal 2, several social media users expressed their eagerness to watch her performance on the reality television show.
Sharing that she is elated to be a part of the show, Namita Marimuthu presented actor and host Kamal Haasan with a book written by IAS officer Dr CK Gariyali titled Transgender in India — Achievers and Survivors: An Ode to Transwomen. During her brief conversation with Kamal, Namitha mentioned that she left her home and pursued modelling during her third year of college. “I chose modelling because I wanted to do something that others haven’t done before,” Namita stated. She added that she also founded Miss Trans Star India to train upcoming models from the transgender community to compete in Miss Trans Star International beauty pageant.
Singer Isaivani is well-known for her Gaana songs, and performs with popular Chennai-based indie band The Casteless Collective. In 2020, Isaivani was presented with a BBC 100 Women Award to honour her contributions to Gaana music. Writing about her, the BBC said, "Isaivani is a distinctive gaana singer in India. Gaana music emerged from the working-class neighbourhoods of north Chennai (formerly Madras) in Tamil Nadu. Isaivani has spent years singing and performing in this male-dominated space."
Born and brought up in Germany, Mathumita is a costume designer and model and IT consultant by profession. After entering the Bigg Boss house, the model gifted a hand-embroidered tie to host Kamal Haasan.
> Abhishek Raaja
Abhishek Raaja is a Tamil film reviewer and YouTuber who has conducted interviews with several Kollywood celebrities. He has also appeared in supporting roles in a few movies, including Tamil film Imaikkaa Nodigal that starred actors Nayanthara, Atharvaa, Anurag Kashyap, Raashi Khanna and Vijay Sethupathi in the lead roles. He made an entry into the Bigg Boss house by shaking a leg to Jayam Ravi’s ‘Damaalu Dumeelu’ song.
> Raju Jeyamohan
Known for essaying the role of Karthi in Vijay TV’s television series Naam Iruvar Namakku Iruvar, actor and mimicry artist Raju Jeyamohan is a part of Bigg Boss Tamil Season 5. He is also popular for his appearances in other Tamil serials such as Kalloori Salai, Aandaal Azhagar, Saravanan Meenatchi and Bharathi Kannamma. He made his big-screen debut with the 2019 Tamil film Natpuna Ennanu Theriyuma, wherein he played one of the lead roles.
> Priyanka Deshpande
Priyanka Deshpande is a television host who is popular for her stint in the singing reality show Super Singer Junior. She has also been on board as the anchor for a number of other reality shows by Vijay TV. She is an alumna of Chennai’s Ethiraj College for Women.
> Abhinay Vaddi
An agriculturist and actor, Abhinay Vaddi is the grandson of late Tamil actors Gemini Ganesan and Savitri. Abhinay made his Telugu film debut with Dasari Narayana Rao directorial Young India, while the biographical film Ramanujan marked his Kollywood debut.
> Pavni Reddy
A native of Karnataka’s Belgaum, Pavni Reddy is an actor who rose to fame with her performance in Vijay TV’s Tamil serial Chinna Thambi. She shares the screen with actor Prajin in Chinna Thambi, which is the Tamil remake of Bengali serial Khokababu. She reportedly began her career at the age of 21 and made her acting debut with the TV show Rettai Vaal Kuruvi.
Popular Tamil folk singer Chinnaponnu is part of the contestant lineup for this season of Bigg Boss Tamil. She reportedly started performing in temple festivals and churches at the age of 13. Chinnaponnu made her debut as a playback singer with the ‘Vazhthuren Vazhthuren’ song from Tamil horror flick Chandramukhi, which was headlined by an ensemble cast of actors including Rajinikanth, Nayanthara, Jyotika, Prabhu and Vadivelu, among others. Her songs ‘Vethalai’ and ‘Tere Naam’ from MTV Coke Studio are also well-known among fans. Chinnaponnu also performed her hit song ‘Naaka Mukka’ in the premiere episode of Bigg Boss 5.
> Nadia Chang
Hailing from Malaysia, Nadia Chang is a model and a social media influencer. With over 43,000 followers on Instagram, Nadi has participated in several beauty pageants and made it as a finalist in many.
> Varun Kamal
Actor Varun Kamal has appeared in films like Puppy and Joshua. The 2019 Tamil comedy-drama Puppy was written by Nattu Dev, marking his directorial debut. The film also starred actors Samyuktha Hegde and Yogi Babu in pivotal roles. Varun has also played the lead role in director Gautham Menon’s upcoming Tamil movie Joshua Imai Pol Kaakha. Co-starring actor Raahei, the film is based on the story of a bodyguard who has to protect a woman travelling from London to Chennai. Varun spoke about his aspirations to establish himself as a successful actor in Tamil cinema at the opening episode of Bigg Boss 5.
> Imman Annaachi
Imman Annaachi shot to fame with his vox-pops for Adithya TV titled Sollunganne Sollunga. His comedic style of hosting quickly garnered the attention of fans. An actor, television presenter, comedian and politician, Imman Annaachi also turned host briefly in the debut episode of the reality TV show and welcomed Kamal Haasan to the stage on Friday.
> Sruthi Jayadevan
Sruthi Jayadevan is a Texas-based fashion blogger and Instagrammer who is known for her indo-western attires and ethnic photoshoots. In the premiere episode, Sruthi mentioned that she sees this as her first step into mass media.
> Akshara Reddy
Model Akshara Reddy has won several beauty pageants including Miss Globe 2019 which was held in Dubai. She represented India in the competition and emerged as the title winner. She was also on board as the jury member for Miss Andhra Pradesh 2016. Akshara has completed her Bachelors in Psychology from the University of Tbilisi, Georgia. She was also reportedly the showstopper in several fashion shows.
> Iykki Berry
Rapper and songwriter Iykki Berry entered the house and opened with a performance. In her conversation with host Kamal, the independent artist mentioned that her name refers to the word ‘ikkiyam’, which translates to unity.
> Thamarai Selvi
Thamarai Selvi is a singer and stage artist. She performed a musical piece before stepping into the Bigg Boss house on Friday.
Actor Ciby has appeared in supporting roles in popular Tamil films including Master and Vanjagar Ulagam. He essayed the role of Shanmugam alias Shaam in Vanjagar Ulagam, while he also appeared in popular song ‘Vaathi Coming’ from Master, co-starring Vijay.
> Niroop Nandakumar
An entrepreneur and aspiring actor, Niroop is a part of Bigg Boss Season 5. He is the owner of Madras amore, a restaurant in Chennai that sells south Indian delicacies.