Why does everybody love to hate Bigg Boss contestant Huccha Venkat?

Why does everybody love to hate Bigg Boss contestant Huccha Venkat?
Why does everybody love to hate Bigg Boss contestant Huccha Venkat?
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Huccha Venkat has created quite a stir in the Kannada film and entertainment world. He was expelled from Bigg Boss Kannada or BBK as it is popularly known, after he assaulted a fellow contestant. Now, the public space is divided on two counts: one is a straightfoward protest from Huccha Venkat’s fans. But the second one is the one to watch out for. 

When Huccha Venkat assauled Ravi Marooru on the day of the shooting of an episode, actor Sudeep who was moderating the show threw him out after other contestants managed to rescue Ravi from Venkat.

Now, many social media users – fans of Sudeep – are applauding the manner in which Sudeep handled the situation. But others within the film industry and elsewhere have raised questions not just about the circumstances in Big Boss, but also the celebration of Huccha Venkat’s seeming ‘madness’.

When he released his first film Huccha Venkat (mad Venkat) in November 2014, he was interviewed by a Kannada news channel. He was very upset that just about 30 people had come to watch the film even though it was “well-made”.

In apparent anger, he had said, “Why won’t you come to watch my film? I have made it well! You are not fit to watch my film.” He also said he had made it for Ramya, an actor and Congress politician.

This brings us to the time that the world learned of Venkat’s existence. In February 2014, Venkat had placed advertisements in leading English and Kannada newspapers, declaring his intention to kidnap and marry Ramya. He was subsequently arrested by the Bengaluru police. According to a report in The Times of India, Venkat had called up some journalists three years ago to tell them he was getting married to Ramya and had invited them for the engagement.

Soon after his interview to Samaya News was uploaded on YouTube, it became viral, garnering thousands of views within days.

Now that Venkat has been expelled, a number of people on Twitter have said they admired Sudeep for the sensitive manner in which he called up Ravi’s parents and consoled them.

Within the film community though, some members have expressed their disappointment that the media hounded him and his strange rambling was both glorified and made fun of.

During the interview to the news channel after the release of Huccha Venktat, he had said he would start “Huccha Venkat Sene”, a Huccha Venkat army. There are Twitter handles and Facebook pages of fans.

In an interview to The Times of India, filmmaker KM Chaitanya said: “I'm sorry to say this. He said he was mad. All of you celebrated him. Did you even for a second realize he needed help? Who were the ones who went about making memes, celebrating his madness, and making it seem like mental illness was entertainment? The channel, the show, the audience. Or everyone?”

Actor Raghu Ramappa too expressed similar views. He told TOI: “Well everyone is praising Sudeep's decision on today's episode. So, tell me, how good was the channel to take Huccha Venkat as a contestant? When everyone knew that he was not mentally stable and he was in his own world of illusion and we all enjoyed his dialogue and his act. But nobody said that he needs help to overcome his problem. Fame doesn't cure him. So, he was badly provoked and triggered and now kicking him out of the show. And now you guys are saying it was a good decision. Well I don't agree with it...”

This celebration of Huccha Venkat has spawned a sub-culture on social media, akin to the Suppandi jokes that were all the rage. For instance this video, a spoof on Venkat’s film. There is also a small collection of jokes and memes, the Kannada version of The Joker from The Dark Night. One meme actually has him as Batman.

Watching Venkat’s videos and listening to him speak has turned into a strange kind of entertainment in itself. His interview to Samaya News has been viewed 6.12 lakh times. In his anger, he is begging people to watch his film, because it was good. He says he made the film for his audience, for Ramy and for his father. “I’ll show it to you for free. Will you come and watch it?”

Senior journalist and editor of Lankesh, Gaur Lankesh says, “No one knows whether Venkat is truly mentally disturbed or whether his entire persona is an act which has deceived everyone. But we can be sure of one thing. Promoting Huccha Venkat's personality of lies, fantasies, fallacies, tendency to enforce moral values, physical threats and verbal abuse is a reflection of the idiocy of our times. It is also extremely dangerous to both him and society... One would not be surprised if, after he has expended all his fury and is out of the limelight, Huccha Venkat is pushed over the edge from being a suspected borderline lunatic to a full-fledged one. If that happens, we as a society will have to bear that cross. That will not be just our tragedy but Huccha Venkat's too.”

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