I’ve been an ardent fan of Kamal Hassan since childhood and for over 30 years. Seeing his movies in 80’s would be a mesmerizing experience. I’d say his movies have all set benchmarks for Tamil and Indian cinema. Even today there’s no argument about the class of actor he is or his skills.
Usually his movies are more enjoyable when watched repeatedly. This is because he works with very intelligent people who contribute a lot of detail to every scene of the movie which often goes unnoticed while watching the first time. This is also a reason why many of his movies have been ahead of its times.
Though since 90’s he’s started handling movies more about society and social issues like Devar Magan, Nammavar, Kuruthipunal, Virumandi, Anbe Sivam, Dasavatharam, Unnai Pol Oruvan, Hey Ram etc. which are all classics in their own way, lately it appears that his movies are losing their edge.
I’d never underestimate his efforts in creating a movie, in fact I’m sure he’s working more than before. But somewhere things are not in order as he doesn’t seem to get the benefit for the efforts. This may be because it is his personal effort and not a team effort any longer.
It could be that he’s grown too big that his intelligent team is unable to get their message across to him or they are not contributing sufficiently to the script anymore. Couple of examples:
1. The last half hour of Manmadhan Ambu was a disaster and can’t believe that during the story discussions how did the director convince Kamal Hassan. There have been movies in the past with similar situations handled more deftly and with finesse, be it Michael Madana Kamarajan, Aproorva Sagodarargal or Indiran Chandiran. So what happened now?
2. Anbe Sivam, though a wonderful movie couldn’t convince me why a person from US had to travel to Eastern India to reach Chennai (reasoning was not convincing). Also depiction of time lines is unclear in the narration like duration of his treatment or the number of years before he meets Kiran again.
3. Recently his movies have started having too many coincidences which again are for the scriptwriter’s convenience or lack of thinking e.g. Trisha killing Kamal’s wife
These are product packaging issues where the loose ends of the script need to be tied. However diligent and meticulous the script writer is, engaging the right people in the scripting process would ensure viewer’s questions like why, what, ifs, but, where, how etc… are answered in the final product.
Kamal Hassan’s movies which were known for their technical perfection are not what you get any more. Digital photography of Mumbai Express was probably the reason for the failure of the movie or even Dasavatharam where I’d have expected more.
I can see Kamal Hassan is at cross roads today as he enjoys scripting and intelligent cinema. At the same time he wants them to be commercially successful so that he can give a shot at his dream projects.
But due to the brain drain in India, Kamal Hassan is missing a complete generation of Tamil audience who have moved abroad. It’s not the same kind of audience he’d get for repeated viewing any longer. Today’s repeat audiences would weigh fast storytelling and instant entertainment more to thoughtful entertainment.
Young directors of today’s Tamil cinema are extraordinarily good with exciting ideas. They’ve mastered the nuances of commercial cinema and perfectly integrate parallel cinema with mainstream cinema. To name a few, Vetrimaran, Ameer, Susindran, Gautham, Selvaraghavan, Murugadoss are all taking Tamil cinema to a totally different level.
When I heard that Selvaraghavan was directing Viswaroopam I was so happy that we could get a real Kamal movie after a long time. Now that I hear Kamal has taken it himself, Viswaroopam doesn’t excite me as much as I’m worried about it’s slow narration.
Today I’d say Kamal Hassan has not been able to sustain his glorious past. Also, I’m not sure if it is his ambitious projects like Marudanayagam or Marmayogi are what I want. I’d like good and thoughtful entertainers once again like Devar Magan, Nayakan or even Pammak K. Sambandam & Panchathantiram.
I’m sure Kamal Hassan will have his own views, opinions and arguments but these are thoughts of a fan