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Kamal Haasan


There is a scene in Manmadhan Ambu where Mannar played by Kamal details Ambu’s (Trisha) character to Madhan (Madhavan). He claims that people who are gifted with great talent are often very audacious. They are honest to a fault and controversial. He could very well be talking about himself because every time Kamal decides to address a gathering, pens an article or releases a movie he attracts a dispute. Either the public oppose him at large or he ruffles a few leaves within the industry.

Right from Thevar Magan when the Thevar clan opposed his portrayal of their communal violence to the clipping of an important recital in Manmadhan Ambu, all his films have embraced controversies. Some have been box office hits despite these hindrances and others have fell flat. But Kamal has never shied away from calling a spade a spade. He knew Virumaandi would create a hoopla right from the time they canned the first shot but he did not rest until it made it to the box office. Who else but Kamal would think of making a movie not from the perspective of the greatest hero of our nation’s struggle for independence but from the eyes of the man who shot him.

What kindles his interest to think about subjects that rarely eludes most film makers? Is it his undying passion to cinema? Is it the thrills of bringing unseen vistas to the audiences? Is it the nerve for making a film that would most definitely enrage certain audiences? Is it the comfort from having established himself as the greatest star of Tamil cinema? What makes him experimental even after decades of toil? What gives him the strength to ride through pastures that seasoned film makers would refuse even at gun point? Surely Kamal Haasan is aware of the bait he is setting, yet he continues to set it. Why?

The recent article in The Hindu “Of course Velu Nayakan does not dance” is an interesting read. When he sat down to compose it, his intentions would not have been to provoke but to illustrate that even when making a movie like Nayakan the path is not a bed of roses. Of course, the director is seasoned. The script is superlative. The actor is brilliant. Yet, the problems that arise while filming a milestone movie like Nayakan are akin to making any other movie.

Their vision was to be different. They did not evade from experimenting. It was everybody’s child. They nurtured it with everything they had. They did not worry upfront if it would run for a 100 days or win awards. They just wanted to fulfill their dreams. In that process, if the movie emerged successful, financially, it would be a bonus. This kind of intellection would not sit well with any pragmatic producer. They are in it for the money. Very few are for the craft but most are for the dough.

The obstacles mentioned are not to irk but to elucidate that great movies like Nayakan are winners despite these obstacles. It is to inspire film makers to keep going through the potholes and bumps. There is no dream run in the world of cinema but to keep the fire burning you need to have undying passion. That is the only route and the only way to success. If you give up at the first sign of a barrier then your dream will remain only that.

Unfortunately for Kamal, very few understand these understatements. Most retort and some turn violent. But for a man who has achieved great heights amidst great difficulties and is still raring to go, these are merely moth balls settled on his shoulder. He just has to brush them aside and stride forward. For Kamal, there are really only two choices – to lead or let others follow.

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