Three months ago, the name Mugen Rao Prakash Rao was little known, but today, he is one of the most talked about names in Indian households in Malaysia and most of Tamilnadu.
His sudden jump to fame is due to his participation in the popular Tamil-language version of the reality TV show 'Bigg Boss'. Season 3 of show started airing on 23 June.
If you are not familiar with the show, here’s a little narrative: 'Bigg Boss Tamil' is a reality show based on the original 'Dutch Big Brother' format developed by John de Mol Jr. It features celebrities -- those who are striving to make it big in the entertainment industry or even well-known stars -- who have to live in a house that is isolated from the world.
The contestants will be deprived of any sort of communication with the outside world, as no handphones are allowed, and they have to cook and wash their own clothes.
Throughout the 100 days of the show, the contestants will be given tasks and go about their regular household chores. The public will then vote for their favourite contestants and the person with the least votes will be evicted.
In the final week, four contestants will fight it out to become the season’s winner.
Now that you’ve gotten the gist of what the programme is all about, you’d be eager to know what’s the buzz around our fellow Malaysian Mugen Rao.
While the previous two seasons of the show were only open to participants from India, this season, 'Bigg Boss' took in participants from other countries, namely Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
Mugen Rao was the lucky local celebrity who auditioned for the show and was chosen as one of its contestants, thus making him the first Malaysian to do so
Mugen Rao, 23, was born into a middle-class family in Malaysia and has always had a keen eye for the arts. His father, who was a stage singer, inspired him to perform for the people and he did exactly that.
Mugen Rao, who has a degree in Performing Arts from Limkokwing University, is a multi-talented artist who can sing, act, dance and even write lyrics. You might have seen him several advertisements for big brands such as KFC and Kit Kat, as well as several Deepavali ads. In fact, he even had several roles in local dramas such as 'Gerak Khas' and 'Da Bomba'.
He has sung and acted in music videos that have raked in millions of views on YouTube.
After conquering all that, 'Bigg Boss' serves as the perfect platform for Mugen Rao to showcase his talents to the world.
Talent and charm
Not long after he made his entrance into the 'Bigg Boss' house, he charmed people with his kindness and talent. People love him for his voice, impromptu songs and made-up lyrics, and they have shown their love for him by voting to save him from eviction every week.
His good looks has another contestant, Abirami Venkatachalam, crushing after him, creating a slight controversy in the show. However, since day one, Mugen Rao is determined to give his best in playing the game and he did not let anything else distract him.
When it came to fight for a place in the grand finale, Mugen Rao gave it his all.
He put in tremendous effort in the challenges and played so well that he was soon leading the lot. What impressed people the most was the fact that he played the game with heart.
For example, when fellow tough contestant Tharshant Thiyagarajah hurt his hand in one of the physical tasks, no one expected Mugen Rao to tear his T-shirt to bandage his competitor's arm. When anoher contestant, Kavin Raj, fell during a brick balancing task, Mugen Rao massaged the former's leg while ignoring his own throbbing leg.
The show's watchers were stunned by the compassion and humanity that Mugen Rao exudes, so much so that they started trending the hashtag #MuGenuine on Twitter as a show of support.
When Mugen Rao went on to win a ticket to finale, his fans, who seemingly grew to millions in just three months, were ecstatic. Thousands of memes and congratulatory messages flooded social media.
Mugen Rao seemed to achieve what he has always dreamt of. He is now in the 'Bigg Boss' grand finale, competing for the Season Three title with three others.
He competed against the others fairly, showing nothing but pure sportsmanship.
Now, it remains to be seen if the overwhelming outpouring of love he received on social media will be reflected in the votes. Whatever the outcome, the lad has certainly made the country proud.
You can catch Mugen Rao in the 'Bigg Boss' finale on 6 October on Astro’s Vijay TV (Channel 224).
Do your best, Mugen Rao. We are rooting for you!