Archive for September, 2006
Dug out this Kamal interview given to Shobha Warrier of Rediff.com in 2004, around the time of Vasool Raja MBBS. Thanks again to UniversalHeroKamal.com. Kamal talks about a wide range of topics including what drives him, where he gets feedback from and criticism. He even expresses interest in doing a Marathi movie. Excerpts:
Acting ceases to be work because I enjoy it. But it feels like working when I do bad work, especially when I know it is bad.
The moment we mime to inform an unwanted caller that you are not around, you are acting.
…I am first a fan of Kamal Haasan…You must appreciate what you are doing. Tell me, when do you become a respectable person in society? When you start respecting yourself. That is when you take care of yourself, that is when you comb your hair, groom yourself and cleanse your body. You do all this because you respect yourself. You won’t wear a dress because you may not look good in that. My being a fan of Kamal Haasan is also like that.
What do you like and dislike about yourself?
What I like is what I exhibit. What I don’t like, I edit so that you don’t see it. It is like clothing. It is like how men wear tight T-shirts to show off their muscles. If they have a paunch, they wear loose shirts.
People around you are always ready to serve you. How do you keep in touch with reality?
It’s very difficult. Yes, you do lose touch with reality. It is like the neural numbness that diabetic patients get. My mother was diabetic, so I know what it is like. The extremities becomes numb for diabetic patients.
Once you attain stardom, you lose that finer touch with society. When you are a man on the street, you get to know every vibration. But once you attain this status, more than you, people become self-conscious by your presence.
But I can’t go back to my old environs. So I try not to effect a change in the environment because of my star presence.
How then do you get those finer vibrations from society?
I have to steal them.
I watch quietly. I imitate. That is how I steal moments. For me, television is a great boon. I don’t watch any of these cinema programmes they offer. There is nothing for me to learn from them. I watch National Geographic, Reality television, the History Channel and the daily news. These are very important contacts with life.
At any time, did you feel like wearing a mask and going out?
I have done that! I am one of the very few actors who have done that. But now, I don’t think it is worthwhile. Times of terrorism, you know. I used to change my get-up when I was in Mumbai and see my films. I had changed my get-up and visited a company which was producing a film with me. They were auditioning for another character. I even auditioned as another man!
You have portrayed a variety of characters. Like stealing moments, were you consciously stealing them?
Could be. Virumaandi was 50 percent from my memory of where I come from. The rest came from my running around. I moved around that area where the story of Virumaandi took place for nearly three months. I would drive around aimlessly, absorbing the place. It was not method acting. I had lost touch with that place. And suddenly, it came back. I was like a man with amnesia trying to remember and put the blocks together in a puzzle.
Do you analyse your films too, especially the ones that don’t do well?
Whether a film is doing well or not is not a criterion. That is only the business criterion. For me, excellence is the only criterion. It is not like cooking where you attain a standard and say, this rasam is good with this mixture. One day, it is rasam, the next day, another mixture to probably make TNT. Acting is beyond that.
…For me, Aalavandhan is passé. It’s boring. Hey! Ram is a film I love not because it is a neglected child, but I feel it is a more complete film than even Virumaandi. The success or failure of it does not matter to me. Success matters to me to make another film. But after my death, certain films will give me respect, like novels left behind by good novelists.
…I felt that way before Apoorva Sahodaragal. I wanted to retire. I felt silly doing the same things over and over again. I kept asking myself what I wanted to do. People told me what I wanted to do would not run. Later, I understood. Don’t listen to them, just go ahead and do it!
Is that why you became a filmmaker?
Yes. That is what has kept me alive. I design the architecture of Kamal Haasan’s career.
…Likewise, Sakala Kala Vallavan and all my films before Nayagan – except for films like Silangai Oli and other intelligent ones — the rest were crass. But they collected money and entertained people.
…In fact, I am seriously thinking of doing a Marathi film.
Marathi culture is a great culture which is as old and important as Tamil culture. It is a bigger state too. It is a pity they have given up all their culture to Hindi cinema. I don’t know why they don’t have the vernacular pride that Tamilians have. They should be producing 100 films a year.
I would love to act in a Marathi film, on my terms. I am not talking about money. It should be a good film.
Photos of the felication function organised by the Tamil film industry for the Chief Minister Kalaignar Karunanidhi are out. Check out Kamal: Photo 1 | Photo 2 | Photo 3. The last one is quite interesting, catching Rajni and Kamal in an unusual way. While we were wondering why Kamal was sporting a cap for some time, he appeared this time in a normal hairstyle and kept people guessing.
- 4 National Awards (Kalathur Kannammaa, Moondram Pirai, Naayagan, Indhian)
- 7 times to Oscars (his movie was India’s official entry)
- 18 Filmfare Awards for Best Actor [Dilip Kumar had 14]
- 5 Silver Jubilee hits in a single year (1982: Vaazhve Maayam, Moondraam Pirai, Simla Special, Sagalakala Vallavan, Sanam Teri Kasam)
- Acted in 6 languages (Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Hindi, Bengali)
- His dream project Marudhanaayagam was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II
- First Tamil movie launch in Madurai (Sandiyar / Virumaandi) instead of Chennai
- First actor to transform his fans’ club into a social service organization (known as Narpani Mandram not Rasigar Mandram), having donated 10000 pairs of eyes
- Donated his body to Madras Medical College in 2002
While Vaettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu continues to burn the box-office charts and also the comments section on this blog, we have some more updates related to the movie.
The United States Consul General in Chennai, David Hopper watched the movie in a private screening, reports The Hindu.
Unlike Hollywood films, Indian films were a mix of music, drama, action … I thoroughly enjoyed watching the film,” Mr. Hopper said.
Meanwhile, Gautham opened up in an inter-college cultural festival. Excerpts:
In justification of all the gore and violence in his latest movie, `Vettaiyadu Vilayadu’, the director said that the film was meant to disturb the people.
He claimed that `Vettaiyadu Vilayadu’ was among the first films in recent times to have unparalleled technical finesse.
…the director had ended up hero-worshipping Kamal Hassan in `Vettaiyadu Vilayadu’. “I guess the fan of Kamal in me could not be suppressed,” responded the director.
There has been talk of Kamal playing characters like George Bush and Osama bin Laden in Dasavatharam. When the posters were out, there was more speculation. I just received this Bush get-up picture from Saravanan. Though it pretty much seems like Photoshop work (notice the cut / join in the neck area), it’s interesting nevertheless.
Click picture to see enlarged version.
Came across this interview with Vasundhara Das in an Indian magazine based in US. A couple of questions deal with Kamal and her experience in Hey Ram. Here go the excerpts:
…I got a call from mom that Kamal Hassan had called them and wanted to do a screen test for his film *Hey Ram.*
I went with my family’s blessings and met him. I was a total tomboy and was expecting some skimpy clothes. Instead I found myself being draped in this Kanjeevaram heavy silk sari, a wig of long hair and flowers in my hair.
…I had not expected it and it also meant a commitment to him for a couple of months where my music will have to wait.
Kamal saw that reticence and said, “We need to talk.” He then said to me, “Look I know you are a reluctant actress. I know the feeling. I’ve been there myself, because I started acting at 5. But you have to decide whether you will allow me to help you and if you will put in the effort.” He had approached my parents and me with such courtesy and graciousness that I found myself saying yes.
There is a very intimate scene in the film. How did you manage it, and how was the experience in all?
He told me upfront about the scene and again with finesse. From the beginning to the end, we were like a big family. Each scene had its own challenges and Kamal is a perfectionist. The fun part came when he asked me to read some dialogues, He was thrilled when I read it in Hindi, for the Hindi version, and didn’t have a South Indian accent in my Hindi. But when I spoke in Tamil his eyes popped out. In spite of being a Tamilian, I didn’t realize that the spoken Tamil for that film had a different dialect. I still laugh when I remember that look as he said, “What did you just say Maam?” I had to work on my Tamil accent ironically!
I still remember the first scene where the family comes to see me for the first time. I had to wear this thick kanjeevaram sari and sing for them. Kamal deliberately chose that scene knowing I was a singer to put me at ease. It was a very thoughtful gesture.
Kamal saw the offers that were pouring in as I was shooting in his film. His only advice to me was, don’t do anything where you don’t stand out. Don’t get caught in the hype. I have done regional cinema and Hindi films as well, but I have been very picky.
This interview featured in The Hindu is not too old, given around the time of Dasavatharam announcement. Kamal reminisces about his past mainly.
- It’s like childbirth. Some die in the process, some go on to become Presidents.
- I rate `Hey Ram’ very high. The movie is an important step in self-improvement…Everyone harps on `Nayagan.’ But I personally think it was not an extraordinary performance.
- A good actor can find the lie in his performance.
- I am very fond of `Avargal.’ I was very young and full of confidence. These are films that made my confidence grow and took me all the way to north India.
The first controversy for Kamal’s new movie is in. Senthilkumar, an assistant director, has claimed that Kamal has stolen his script for Dasavatharam. He has even lodged a police complaint. Read details from Mumbai Mirror. This kind of issue cropped up even for Virumandi.