It’s quite some time since we looked back at an old interview of Kamal. This one from Screen was done around 1995, when Kurudhippunal was out. The interview covers a wide range of topics, from direction to Hindi movies and from Sarika (his then-wife) to penning an autobiography. As usual, it is full of straight-talking.
As a rule, all interviews are meant for effect. That’s the way it should be. Celebrities should preserve a side to them that is not for public.Over the years, I have mastered the golden blend where I don’t lie, but don’t tell the complete truth either.
I cannot be accused of showing off in Nayakan and definitely not in Mahanadi. Maybe this has to do with the phase an actor goes through. I had a lot at stake during EDKL and I didn’t want to go unnoticed. I think the effort showed. Once the actor is assured of the applause, he settles down. So critics who say that Kamal Haasan is narcissistic are those who’re not updated on Kamal Haasan. I take my critics seriously. And if I’ve to take my cues from them, they had better be constructive and intelligent.
I gave up Hindi films too easily. I compared it to South cinema and became disillusioned.
I do a retake only when I can convince the director that what I have in the offing is better than the original. Mind you, I’m not always right.
I wanted to be the master. I wanted to dictate, not be dictated. I wanted to pursue films as a dream, not as a nine-to-five job.
I’m never self-conscious about anybody. My problem with Sarika working behind the scenes was of a different kind. Sarika and I are too independent in our thinking and therefore often tend to disagree. She’s an excellent worker, she’s highly dedicated and disciplined and once on the sets does not indulge in playing Kamal Haasan’s wife.
I’d have preferred it if there was more output. Somehow, a lot of time gets lost in floundering…The ideal situation would be to have at least four releases a year.
…Mahanadi is my all-time favourite, so is Kurudhipunal, but the credit for Kurudhipunal should go more to the producer, than the actor. Amongst my old films, I think I’m competent in Sagar Sangamam…I’d say that Nayakan and Thevar Magan are complete films.
…I should have directed a film 10 years ago. According to my friends I’m overdue by almost 20 years.
…To write an autobiography I’ll have to lie and the kind of truths I know will hurt too many people. Exposing so many people is vanity. I might do it some time later, but not now. I’m not ready for it as yet.
Though I pretend to be organised, I am not. Like most successful men, I have all the trappings of punctuality but it is restricted to checking the wristwatch for an appointment.
For certain films, it’s a waste of time to go into an indeph character study. These are roles that don’t demand energy.
The film is inspired from Govind Nihalani’s Drohkaal. The initial agreement was that we’d dub the film in Hindi after it was released down South. The director however had second thoughts. He said that the distributors were asking for refund from territories where Drohkaal hadn’t fared well.
I’m not the happy kind. I’ll never settle down for happiness.