Archive for November, 2007

AIDS campaign & first-hand report

Kamal’s commitment to social welfare is proven once again with him becoming the UN ambassador for HIV/AIDS. He is featuring in a multimedia campaign, which started off with a TV ad. Check out the United Nations Web-site, letsmakeitright.in. Read reports from The Hindu and IANS. This campaign seems to have been launched in time for World AIDS Day, which falls on December 1.

One would remember that Kamal was also supposed to make one of the short films of Mira Nair’s AIDS JaaGo series.

Yesterday, he participated in a function at Justice Basheer Ahmed Sayeed College for Women (formerly and popularly known as SIET). Though news about it has been splashed across the media, let’s get some first-hand details from P, who was right there:

It is a campaign for giving HIV patients their due rights and Kamal is the campaign ambassador.

“He looks 100 times awesome in person than in screen”, exclaimed one of the girls. “What charisma”! The girls of the college kept shouting so much that he was overwhelmed. For each and every word he spoke, they yelled. Sporting a beard, he wore a grey blazer. “He really looks superbbbb…”, went another girl.

There were lots of press people and a photo session. He told the press that he would support this cause and include such subjects even in his movies.

Inevitably, he spoke of Dasavatharam on the sidelines, further confirming the delay in release.

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Dasavatharam: details and delays

Oscar Ravichandran and KS Ravikumar have been talking to the press of late and giving out some details about Dasavatharam. But the bad news is that the movie is further delayed due to the Computer Graphics portions. While officially they are saying February, it might get delayed upto April 14 (Tamil New Year’s day). Also, they are talking of releasing 1000 prints (which is becoming the new standard for big Bollywood movies) and (thankfully) releasing prints with subtitles for overseas.

A section of the press have caught a sneak preview of a song featuring Kamal as the Brahmin who sinks in the sea with a Vishnu idol. Some highlights from the reports of The Economic Times and Sify:

“The subject of this movie is not a love story, political or village drama, family saga, rowdy’s life, brother-sister sentiments, damage to the protagonist’s mental frame of mind, nor is it revenge-based,” smiles Oscar Ravichandran, knowing very well that he has evoked our curiosity.

KS Ravikumar says that he is not in the film for the money - he is working very hard for the first time in his life.

Revealing more details about the film, Ravichandran says that the characters have no link with each other, but come together at the end of the film.

Ravichandran is the first producer in India to have outsourced the special effects of a film to 12 different companies in the world. This means that the availability of latest technology and competition between them to produce superior quality special effects.

Says Ravichandran:”It was Kamal sir’s idea to go for state-of-the-art cutting edge technology to make the film look authentic and life-like on the big screen”.

[Picture courtesy: BehindWoods]

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Income Tax case

Kamal has been taken to court yet again; but this time it’s a bit different. The Income Tax department has gone to the Supreme Court in a case involving tax concessions related to Kuruthippunal (1995!). Let’s hope our man emerges victorious here too.

Read reports from Sify and Behindwoods for more details.

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Puviarasu felicitation & literary inclination

It is a known fact that Kamal has a lot of friends in the literary circles. He has used many of them in his movies from Mahanadhi to Marudhanayagam. Recently, he took the time to felicitate one such person, Puviarasu the poet, for winning the Sahitya Akademi award.

During his speech, he spoke of his association with Puviarsu and various others. He also read out one of his poems, which is reproduced below, thanks to Behindwoods.

They have more photos and so does CineFundas.com. IndiaGlitz as usual has several photos and a long video featuring Kamal’s speech. IBNLive has a short news clip, featured below. The event received extensive coverage in the vernacular press too.

[Picture courtesy: BehindWoods]

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Kamal A2Z: Ellam Inba Mayam

Ellam Inba Mayam, made in 1981 (story, dialogues and lyrics: Panju Arunachalam) was in many ways a precursor to Kamal’s later movies. He dons a multi-character role, speaks different dialects and above all, explores a full-fledged light-hearted comedy for probably the first time. G. Rangarajan, the director, would go on to make another comedy Meendum Kokila with Kamal the same year and Maharasan a decade later. The setting and spirit of “Solla solla..” song (a perfect spoof of ‘disco’ songs of the period, resurrected on YouTube) was taken further in the evergreen “Ilamai itho itho…” in Sakalakala Vallavan, a year later.

The movie follows a hackneyed script but the Kamal takes the situational comedy to a level where we can forget the mindlessness of it all. In fact, the movie seems to have been made with the singular objective of showcasing Kamal’s acting talents with no regard to logic. His scenes with YG Mahendran are some of the best of the period, in terms of comic timing. Two examples: Kamal and YGM have just arrived at Madras, and are visiting the Gandhi statue at the Marina beach. As they remove their slippers and move to the statue, YGM remarks “Aasirvaadham vangippom. Yengayo avasarama poraru pola irukku..” (Let’s get his blessings. He seems to be in a hurry to go somewhere.). Later, when a prospective employer inquires about their competency, Mahendran explains, “Nalla saapiduvom“. The man then demands, “Appuram?”, to which Kamal replies without batting an eyelid, “Kai kazhuviduvom…” (the beauty will be lost in translation) – proving again what it takes to transform an ordinary script into an engaging act.

The Charlie Chaplin influence on Kamal is seen in this one too – probably for the first time on screen. The scene where Kamal and YGM dine at a local restaurant Chaplinesque to the core, especially the sequence where Kamal cannot stop his hiccups. The way he walks in the Basavappa character is again reminiscent of Chaplin’s films.

There are many elements of the village bumpkin character which Kamal seems to have retained in Kameshwaran of MMKR. The naivety, the walk, the awkwardness are all trademark Kameshwaran. Also of note is that for a typical masala movie, with villain and fights intact, there is no gore or even a single murder, much like Michael Madana Kama Rajan. Incidentally, both movies were produced by Panju Arunachalam’s P. A. Arts. Ellam Inba Mayam may not be one of Kamal’s best; but looking back, I am sure it has influenced his career path and his disposition to full-fledged comedies.

Editor’s Note: We’ll continue with ‘E’ for a fortnight as usual. But the next letter is ‘F’, which unfortunately has no movies. So, let’s catch up on what was left out from ‘A’ to ‘E’ during that time. Send in your entries!

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Poi launch photos

Here are some photos from the launch function of Poi in 2005. It was Balachander’s 101st movie, produced by Prakashraj (aka Prakash Rai). The movie starred Uday Kiran and Vimala Raman.

Kamal is seen in Rama Shama Bhama get-up.

Check out more photos featuring Kamal, Rajni, Balachander and Prakashraj.

[Picture courtesy: BehindWoods]

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Dasavatharam: background legend?

Fellow-blogger Hawkeye has come up with a possible mythological (?) background to Dasavatharam, based on what we have heard till now and the recently released stills. Whether it turns out to be true or not, it’s definitely an interesting read.

[Picture courtesy: BehindWoods]

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Kamal A2Z: Devar Magan

Editor’s Note: Okay, the purists might say that the spelling should actually be “Thevar Magan”. But we’re strapped for movies — will you kindly excuse? And is anyone ready to quench our thirst for Daisy, Donga Dora or Dekha Pyar Tumhara?

Hmm, what do I write about a landmark movie that has been analysed in umpteen ways, even on this very blog? I think I’ll look back at the movie, the times and some interesting tidbits.

  • Few shots come to mind when I think of Devar Magan. One of them that is stuck permanently is from the climax. Kamal carries the mega-sickle on his shoulders and walks down, like Jesus with the cross. At that instant, I saw Kamal disappear and the character take over completely. But my wish for a National Award didn’t come true. There were 6 others for the movie though.
  • The movie was talked about for Sivaji Ganesan coming together with his on-screen successor, Kamal. The chemistry was simply memorable. Kamal seemed to have almost reproduced their real-life relationship onto the reel. Sivaji remarked after the movie’s release that Kamal had just asked him to be himself to play that character.
  • When the movie was being shot, Devi, the Tamil magazine had covered it. It featured sound bytes from Sivaji mainly. To one of the questions, he had said that Kamal was still young and could continue acting for another 15 years. The year was 1992.
  • In my mind, this was Sivaji’s best performance along with Mudhal Mariyadhai. He famously refused the Special Jury National Award, as he hadn’t been recognised in all the years.
  • Traces of The Godfather are evident — the local chieftain, the younger son being preferred to take over and so on. Kamal later said that it was indeed a tribute. It was actually a bet amongst friends on who would do the Hollywood classic in Tamil first. Mani Ratnam won with Nayakan, 5 years earlier.
  • Revathi took over the role of Panjavarnam that Meena turned down due to lack of dates. Though a tad old for that role, she went on to add another feather in her cap in the form of a National Award.
  • Vadivelu possibly never did a role like this before or after Devar Magan — sheer casting genius.
  • The songs were very situational and not all of them became big hits. But “Inji iduppazhagaa…” rocked and fetched a National Award for S Janaki.
  • When the movie became a huge success, Kamal underplayed it by saying that it was just a ‘rehearsal’ for Marudhanayagam. We’re still waiting for the real thing.
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Birthday Special: What was that again?

With randramble

Birthday reflections are far from peaceful preoccupations. Even if he has lived an eventful 53 years and has a cap cluttered with feathers, contentment seems a far cry for Kamal. Every interview smacks of a Schindlerian “I could have done more”, which works out just fine for the greedy viewer.

Attention grabbing. That is what artists do for a living. But the blink-and-you-miss moments — which is a sort of Kamal signature — make meeting-the-artist midway quite a task. And of course the rewards are great. So, how about sharing the rewards then, just like we did last year?

All ye, who have seen MMKR, would recall the short-lived giggle that Kameswaran lets go, when ChakkubAi plonks herself on him and just before reigning himself when Tiruppu shoots a scorching look. With all due respect to Crazy here, it was one of those several Kamal-Singeetham moments. One can actually trace the idea back to a few passing frames in Aboorva SahOdarargaL.

This in the famous driving lesson, that has screamers like “nice-A vandhittEn”. The car is stuck in the middle of the road and Raja and Janaki have to exchange seats. Kamal steals a wickedly funny moment here. No lines, no stopping the viewer to direct his attention to the moment — just an ingenious expression that send the observant viewer rolling. Here it is in a thousand words:

The Grin

Now, this is becoming a Singeetham special too. In the path-breaking movie that was Pushpak aka Pesum Padam, acting is restrained by the lack of dialogues. From balcony to balcony, he speaks with the girl he likes. After telling him about her parents, she asks him about his. Talking cheerfully till then, he becomes sad. He recovers quickly, puts out his tongue to indicate that they are dead. She empathasises and melancholy sets in, with the violin background of L Vaidhyanathan.

Moving onto little bit more serious stuff, Nandhu of Aalavandhaan (Abhay) is in one of his hallucinations and the doctor asks him where he picked up so much violence from. Combining the innocence of the character and the mischief of the writer, he replies that he learnt it by watching cartoons.

That’s it from us. What’s your “Kamal moment”? Let’s have a better show this year in the Comments section.

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Chanakyan director speaks

With Chanakyan not coming up as part of the Kamal A2Z series yet, this might be a good time to hear from the old favourite’s director. Here’s an old interview from Rediff.com with Rajeev Kumar. Excerpts:

…I had this dream of making a film with mimicry as the background.

Finally, when I got my chance to make a film for Navodaya, I thought of my dream. As the director, I was very excited about the theme and the climax because I thought it was very unconventional.

…Then Navodaya fixed up an appointment with Kamal Haasan for me. I went there, met him and narrated the script. He agreed to do the film. Remember, I didn’t know him at all. I told him, “This is my first film and the producer has confidence in me. Similarly, you should have confidence in me. I cannot make any changes in the script as this is my first film and this is the way I want to make it.” He was very positive in his approach.

The advantage I had by making the film with Kamal was that nobody expected anything from him as he experimented with bold themes. Every twist in the story stunned the audience. That was why the film became a big commercial success. The film surprised the audience.

Chanakyan was a success and was well appreciated. But the reality was something else. Not a single producer came forward with an offer because Chanakyan did not fall in the usual commercial category. They considered its success an accident.

I was worried. Then, I was asked to do a period film with Kamal. Kamal was very excited about the project but, after researching and working on the script for more than a year, it did not work out.

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