RJ Ophelia popularly known as Imsai Arasi (queen of torture) is known for her lively shows in BIG FM which have made her popular especially among college students. She takes on topical issues and laces it with lot of humor and presents in an entertaining manner. This livewire is in a bubbly conversation with Behindwoods.

"I try to mimic captain Vijaykanth"

About your unique name?

Ophelia: My full name is Ophelia Santhaselvi. My dad wanted to give me a rare name and he chose it from Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Family background

I come from a normal middle class family. We are all Tamilians. My dad works as a Traffic Manager in Metropolitan Transport Corporation and mom works for Bharath Petroleum and my younger brother is doing his final year automobile engineering at SRM, Kaattankulathur.

About yourself

I am an out and out Chennai girl, did my schooling in Holy Angels Convent, T Nagar, graduated in commerce from Stella Maris and then went on to do my post graduation in mass communication and journalism from M O P Vaishnav. I always talk in a very colloquial manner and my friends would laugh for whatever I say. I never realized that this could be a major factor in my career. In fact this way of talking has turned to my advantage in Big FM. At BIG FM, people feel that it is a unique style or slang.

How did you get this name Imsai Arasi?

My first show was from 1 to 3 in the afternoon, episode 927 which was satirizing television serials. As my name sounds English and stylish, people at Big FM felt that it would not be appropriate for this show. They thought they can give a character name. Many mokkai names were considered like serial sundari, silk sundari etc. I did not like them because I cannot be always doing this show and I need to grow in my career. That was the time when Imsai Arasan was released and Thenali, one of my fellow RJs suggested Imsai Arasi which was agreed upon by everyone as it covered everything from my speaking style to presentation. However no one expected the name to have this far reaching effect and that's why even if the show changed, they have not changed the character name.

Any interesting incident in your work

Generally callers talk to us perfectly but the moment I say that they will be going on air, they start stuttering and stammering and goof up their talk. But some people are fantastic. Once we were doing a show on Washermenpet special wherein the listener was asked to give a running commentary on donkey race. He told us that all the RJs of Big FM are donkeys- me, Thenali, Dheena, Balaji, Ragasiya Snegidi and Sangeetha. And we are all in a running race. Dheena was leading but towards the end I win. When I asked him how, he answered that there was a signpost saying 'overtaking prohibited' and everyone will follow rules and I will not. And that is how I won the race. First when he called us all donkeys, I felt somewhat but later the style in which he narrated the incident was nice.

How do you handle unsavory comments?

When we do not want to air some comments, we will add some lines like "Nanga ellam kotti kidakkara sengal, neenga ellam katti muditha gopuram" and adjust. But when we get to hear some real hurting comments, we will answer them in monosyllables and thank them for their feedback while assuring them that their opinion will be taken care and end the call in a polite manner.

Who gives you the best counter for your talks?

In the past two years that I have worked as an RJ, I find Chennai listeners to be very intelligent and sharp witted. Some callers are very talented. Once I came across a caller who was too good in mimicry that he mimicked a drumming sound. It was amazing. College students are generally very jovial with a high sense of humor. They are very sharp, keep throwing powerful volleys at you and completely wipe the ground off your feet. Students from Loyola, Pachiappa's and Presidency are very good in this.

We have heard that you mimic Vijaykanth. Can you do it now?

I am not good in it. But I can try. I try to mimic captain Vijaykanth. Sometimes it turns out bad and we cover it up saying, 'Thank you for listening to mokkai mimicry' and move on.

Any close encounter with boys?

Through out my school life, I was in all girls' schools and later in Stella which is again a women's college. In my post graduation, I was too busy with assignments, projects, internship, reports etc. In Stella, even traveling to the college was by ladies special buses. So no big chance there either. Even in Big FM, there is no Big hope- Dheena is said to be committed; in Balaji's house, they have started looking out and Thenali is too young. So that is the scene.

How do you prepare for your shows?

My boss would always say that the two hours of show on air is like a public exam and we write the exam every day. Show preparation is very very important. Some people say that preparation before the show is not necessary. But when we go on air without preparation, we are bound to make mistakes, repeat the content and the show will not be crisp.

Generally we go through all the newspapers and take the input from there. Television and internet are also helpful. We take the current event and give it a different color and present it.

For instance, once it was world Chocolate day and also the Indian cricket team had lost a match in the Asia Cup finals. So we had a game where we had asked the callers what sweet they would like to offer to the losing team and they were also asked to give the reason for the same. One caller had an interesting idea. He said that he would give a cotton candy to them because like the cotton candy which looks too big but once started eating shrinks too fast, the Indian cricket team also presents an inflated image but once on the job, they fizzle out so fast. In a similar vein, one caller wanted to give laddu to the team and made an interesting connection between the two. We inform the programming head and producer about our show and they give some interesting inputs and make necessary corrections if needed.

What is the plan for your programs?

My show is called Imsai unlimited from 3 to 5 in the afternoon from Monday to Friday. There are two segments – Imsai notice board and Kolly Paapa apart from caller interaction. In Kolly Paapa, there is a cute character which would comment on the happenings of Kollywood in a unique style. For example, super star had commented during Kuselan launch that after forty years of age, everyone should avoid the white things in life viz. salt, sugar, butter, rice, curds and milk. So Kolly papa had given out a cute comment in a baby voice saying that if we avoid all these, then what is left for us to eat.

In Imsai notice board, I give out the details about the happenings like the culturals and other related events in the city colleges. We are having two interesting segments. One is big Imsai Award. We are giving an award to a person who does the most mokkai in that week. No nomination or anything like that. It is entirely our discretion. Accepting or rejecting the award is left to them but we will give the award anyway. The other one is Professor Labak Das. For a change, I am asking serious questions and professor is giving out mokkai answers.

Interviewer: Inian

Camera: Hemananth.B

Text: Jyothsna

Director Sasi Divya Spandana Sneha Sharanya Mohan Nakul Priyamani
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