Looking back at the past gives us a different and often wholesome perspective of events. It helps one derive confidence from accomplishments, learn from mistakes and recharge for a fresh new year. In our case, of course, we’re looking at Kamal’s 2008. To call this year eventful would probably be an understatement.
The biggest event of the year was, obviously, the release of Dasavathaaram. In preparation for over 2 years, the movie released on June 13 to a overwhelming response, after many announced and rumoured dates (April 10, April 17, June 6).
The publicity build-up was slow and steady, unlike the bombardment of Aalavandhaan. In fact, many were wary of the hype being reminiscent of the 2001 failure. However, the reality matched or surpassed the expectations. Stills and the trailer were put out in a carefully phased manner to create excitement while not revealing too much about the movie. Here’s the progression: Avtar Singh in mid-air -> muscular Nambi in action -> Govind in lab -> miscellaneous ones before the audio release -> more stills along with the trailer -> miscellaneous ones shortly before the release. Actually, the buzz hit top gear with the release of the fast-paced trailer. Both the trailer and the public analysis that followed had a taste of things to come. The trailer had literally-blink-and-miss flashes of the ten roles and fans caught it.
In between all these came the high-profile audio release function featuring Jackie Chan and Amitabh Bachchan among others. After a painful gap (that was worth the wait ultimately), the movie arrived to a rousing reception. The media coverage was unprecedented. After the movie quickly reached blockbuster proportions, the ten characters were officially revealed.
The movie generated unparalleled reactions in the real and online worlds. Whether it was movie folks or bloggers, the excitement was infectious. The vibrations even rocked Google. But ultimately, the box-office spoke loudly and records were shattered all around.
Marmayogi & More
Even as Dasavathaaram was on the way, we heard of Marmayogi. Everything seemed to be proceeding well like a typical Kamal movie while problems with Pyramid Saimira, the co-producer, were rumoured. Again, things seemed back on track and news about cast and crew resumed flowing. Finally, the movie hit a roadblock citing the global economic meltdown as the reason. With no confirmation yet, along with a mention of Thalaivan Irukkindraan, the fate of the movie hangs in balance, even as there is revelation of Pyramid Saimira running into all kinds of trouble.
Kamal’s interviews are always a delight to watch or read. He always manages to make each one interesting, while also revealing something new about himself. This year was loaded with many of them, especially as a by-product of Dasavathaaram’s promotion. Check out the top quotes below before diving into the year’s best for S (Sathyam Cinemas magazine), Hindustan Times / The Times of India, DNA / BusinessOfCinema.com, Mumbai Mirror and The Times of India.
The best part is that the producer was smiling at the start of the film and he still is smiling when it’s complete - which is very rare.
Just making Dasavathaaram alone would not have been sufficient; a release pattern like this combined with the product is what is making it work so well…Never before has a Tamil film been released on this scale.
I don’t know what I did right, but I hope I can do it again.
Both the times when you separated from your wives, there was another woman involved. Sarika led to your split with Vani and Simran caused a rift between Sarika and you.
Unless it’s a gay marriage, there’s always another woman involved.
Ten roles, isn’t he increasingly becoming self-indulgent in his films? “Who isn’t,” asked Kamal defensively. “Aren’t great actors like Yusuf saab and Amitabh self-indulgent? Who else should I love more than me? Brad Pitt?”
I have spent 500 hours doing make up itself and it takes a lot of perseverance and belief in what you are doing to keep doing it. If I spent that much time inside a cockpit I would be a successful commercial pilot.
“…There is a downside to everything. If we take ourselves too seriously, we actors will definitely need a psychiatrist.”
From the perspective of international standards, money and talent is being invested in the right direction and I feel that in two years from now nothing called Bollywood will exist.
To me the ascent of man in itself is a mind-boggling thing. And Darwin’s theory is something I believe to an extent. In fact, if somebody asks me what gothram I am, I always joke and say Darwin gothram. What I do try is to keep fit. For ultimately it is the survival of the fittest.
“…I am deeply hurt by what is happening around in the name of religion. I personally feel, whenever there is a crisis, God becomes a mere witness. I am happy with my decision,” he explains.
“…Spirituality makes you rest, makes you content. I will only settle down when I am in a coffin, under the earth or inside the fire. Till then I will keep myself active and alive…”
The other unusual interview was on books in the Tamil magazine Puthagam Peshudhu.
Kamal is known for promoting social service through his fans’ association (Narpani Iyakkam). This year too, he kept the ball rolling with donation of exam kits to needy students in March and ceiling fans to orphanages in July. But the bigger involvement was as brand ambassador of Hridaya Ragam, the effort of the World Malayalee Council to conduct free paediatric heart surgeries.
Speaking of fans, there was quite a bit of activity on that front too. Kamal held a photo session for fans in February, like the previous year , and also felicitated some on the occasion. For his birthday, he discouraged celebrations on account of the Srilankan Tamils’ problem.
On the association front, there was some strong action. Key officials including the chief, R Gunaseelan, were sacked in August, for apparent misconduct.
At a smaller level, Arif, a fan from Kerala, declared his love for Kamal through a music video titled Avatharam.
Death of Colleagues
This year was, unfortunately, also big in terms of the passing away of many of his colleagues, one of them really close. That was Sujatha Rangarajan the writer. Kamal sent out a touching condolence message. Others were CV Sridhar, the director and MN Nambiar, the veteran actor.
KM Aadimoolam, the famous artist, too passed away this year. Kamal released a biography of his and paid homage.
While paying respects to the departed was essential, Kamal did not miss honouring the living too. Manorama celebrated her 50 years in the movie field and Kamal was there to felicitate her.
There were two protests held by the Tamil film industry this year, in the form of fasts. In April, it was for the Cauvery-Hogenakkal problem and then we had the one in November for the sake of Srilankan Tamils. At both places, Kamal shined as one of the sanest voices.
Towards the end of the year, Kamal participated in quite a few events related to film appreciation and production. In addition to being the Chief Guest at the closing ceremony of International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa, he took part in a seminar on UK-India collaboration and the Indian Screenwriters Conference.
Audio release functions have become major launch pads for movies these days. Kamal graced quite a few in 2008 including Kodaikanal, Jayamkondaan and A Aa E Ee.
There were the customary wedding functions too. We had a whole lot of them in fact — Sibiraj, Prabhu’s daughter, Sarathkumar’s niece, Vairamuthu’s son, Senthil’s son, Professor Ku. Gnanasambandhan’s daughter, Mohan Natarjan’s daughter, Ahathian’s daughter and Arvind Krishna / Shreya Reddy.
Controversies have been hounding Kamal, especially for the past few years. This year, we had the anti-Hindu allegations against Dasavathaaram, which was ultimately quashed in court.
Then there were the insiders, former associates, in fact. Bharathiraja, the great director of the past and the blabber-mouth of the present, attacked Dasavathaaram first and later Kamal’s acting skills. The grapes turned sour for Saran, another director coincidentally. After losing out on the opportunity to work with Kamal, Saran accused him of not returning advance money. Kamal watched in typical silence as both controversies died out.
There were no significant developments on the personal front. But we got to know a bit more of him this year, first as a father in Shruti’s music performance at the Rolling Stones India launch and then as a companion through an interview of Gautami.
Blasts from the Past
This year, we had quite a few interesting peeks into Kamal’s past. The long-kept secrets of Kamal’s dwarf act in Apoorva Sagodharargal (Appu Raja) were mostly let out by its director, Singeetham Sreenivasa Rao. As for the long-pending Marudhanayagam, after the trailer on the Internet in late 2006, came a few fantastic stills featuring Kamal. Also, we had a blog post on Kamal’s days in drama.
[Picture courtesy: BehindWoods]