Archive for the 'Personal Life' category

Kamal A2Z: Apoorva Raagangal

Apoorva Raagangal (more commonly pronounced as ‘Aboorva Raagangal’) was part of the second innings of K Balachander, one among the ’shock-and-shake-up-the-audience’ series of movies (the others being Arangetram, Aval Oru Thodarkathai and Avargal). Kamal featured in all of those, but got possibly his first opportunity as leading man in Tamil with this movie released in 1975.

Barely in his twenties, he stuns the audience with his fearless and mature performance. When one thinks back now, it seems like Balachander actually tapped the rebellious streak and raw energy in Kamal for the role of Prasanna. The intelligence, interest in arts and indifference to societal rules all seem to match with his real-life self. In that sense, Balachander and Kamal were working off each other.

This movie is also known for the debut of Rajnikanth. In the few scenes they have together, Kamal and Rajni are in a way pitted against each other, both being interested in the same woman. Again looking back, the slowly maturing relationship between the two seems to reflect their personal equation in the future superstar era.

But the image of the movie really is from the popular “Adhisaya raagam…” song — Kamal singing away and Srividya looking at him in wonder. Yesudas’s classical voice and Kannadasan’s simple yet meaning-laden lyrics add beauty.

Get more details about the movie from the entries on IMDb and Wikipedia. Kamal reprised this role 9 years later in the Hindi remake, Ek Nai Paheli, with Hema Malini and Raaj Kumar.

Panchathanthiram-time interview

Considering the current discussion going on in the Comments sections, now is a good time to look back at one of Kamal’s interviews on Rediff.com, done just after the release of Panchathanthiram. The setback of Aalavandhaan (aka Abhay) wasn’t too far behind. A lot was going on in Kamal’s personal life too at that time. So, there are peeks into all that. Excerpts:

The mahurat of Abhay was a huge, unmanageable affair, unlike anything we had seen before. But he could not maintain that grand momentum.

It is so ridiculous. There should be a law as to who should cut the film and for what purpose.

Now I am working towards settling my debts. Instead of one film, I will probably do two or three films per year at the same fee that I got one doing one film per year.

You know directors who have treated me as a comrade instead of just an actor, have always got the best out of me. Even great filmmakers like K Balachander, Mani Ratnam and Balu Mahendra have treated me like an ally. That helped the entire project….I am sure Mani doesn’t take all his actors into confidence. But he would discuss the screenplay during Nayakan. That was really reassuring for me. My chest heaves with pride when my directors take me into confidence.

My comedies have always done well. I am grateful for that.

We all worked like lunatics to complete the film in three months. While director K Ravi Kumar was cutting editing and mixing, I got busy writing Anbesivam.

Despite the turmoil in my personal life, the film will always brought a smile to my face. It was just the balm I needed to keep me calm.

Read the whole interview.

Kamal’s thoughts, on Independence Day

On the occasion of India’s 60th Independence Day, I chanced upon some of Kamal’s thoughts on the Indian flag and patriotism in general.

Every year I hoist my National Flag in my terrace and sing my National Anthem. This habit was to let my children enjoy the same naive patriotism that I enjoyed as a child. It has become a habit.

The flag solicits a certain emotion like the insurance company symbol or the medical symbol or the Red Cross. No symbol is worth the cloth it is printed on if it empowers dictators or facilitates division. I, by mindset, would like to stretch borders. I think patriotism as per lore is quite ridiculous and impractical. I am a dreamer who dreams of a war free silk route. When that happens we can proudly and legitimately call America as nephew Sam. We will then be the big uncles by any global standards.

Read more on the site of Flag Foundation of India, established by Naveen Jindal.

What’s in a name?

Many are confused about Kamal’s name — the way it’s supposed to be written especially. I mentioned this in passing in the very first post on this blog, but realised that the name is tangled beyond redemption. Anyway, let me do my bit in clearing it up.

Till around the early eighties, his name was featured in movies as ‘Kamalahaasan’ (or ‘Kamalhasan’, if you will — Tamil: கமலஹாசன்). That is his original name. I’m not so sure about the unusual ‘Haasan’ suffix being attributed to his father’s fondness for an friend though. The name actually means something like the man who laughs whole-heartedly just as a lotus blooms wide, in Sanskrit.

When he ventured into Bollywood, In all probability, it got distorted as ‘Kamalahassan’ or ‘Kamal Hassan’. In fact, due to this, there are many who believe he’s a Muslim!

For whatever reason, he seemed to have felt the need for a surname, much like many South Indians have discovered in recent times. So, he split up his name into two — ‘Kamal Haasan’. His daughters use the surname; even his ex-wife Sarika used to.

So, that’s about it. No big mystery. Just something people didn’t pause to take note of and understand.

[Thanx to Wikipedia for filling in a few gaps.]

Felicitating Nagesh…

When Nagesh, one of Kamal’s favourites, was being felcitated, would he miss out? He was there, along with K Balachander, Cho, Vaali and MS Viswanathan. Some excerpts from The Hindu’s report:

“The only picture you can find in Kamal’s room is that of himself with Nagesh. He reveres him so,” Vaali (sic)…

“True,” said Kamal. “I watch his films seriously. I’m so much in awe that I forget to laugh. Such is my admiration. It’s not jealousy — only complete surrender to this great talent. ‘Crazy’ Mohan, a few other friends and I celebrate Nagesh almost every day at my office…Hindi film actor Mehmood once told me, he considers Nagesh his guru, whereas Amitabh gave Mehmood a similar status. So you see where the root actually is?” he smiled.

Also, check out some photos from Aaron Selvaraj.

PS: Sorry for reporting this a bit late. I was trying to get some photographs for using in this post, but didn’t succeed and ended up being late.

Shruthi back in the news

Shruthi seems to be back — is it temporary? There’s news of her releasing an album and meeting MS Viswanathan with her father. She has also talked about her interests, including acting. We’re waiting to see you in action, Shruthi!

Update on 5 July: We even have some imaginative reporting to provide some variety — Shruthi not being able to recognise her father on the sets of Dasavatharam.

Kamal & Rajni together again, but never to act together again?

Kamal and Rajni appeared together yet again, on the dais of a function to commemorate the 804th day of Chandramukhi. While speaking at the function, Kamal generously praised Rajni, talked about their friendship (in Tamil) and also declared that they would never act together again.

Check out more photos at Behindwoods. The event was widely reported in the media.

[Picture courtesy: BehindWoods]

More camaraderie between The Big Two

As fans get nasty online after Sivaji is out, the two stars in question seem to be subtly suggesting to their admirers to take it easy. Take a look at the photos that were clicked at the audio launch of Thottaal Poo Malarum. Readers would recollect that Kamal and Rajni appeared together during the launch function of the same movie.

Check out all the photos at Behindwoods.

Updated: 26 Jun 2006, after Behindwoods pulled out the very photos that were published here, for whatever reason.

[Picture courtesy: BehindWoods]

More Shruthi & Aksharaa

Shruthi and Aksharaa at the premiere of Ocean’s 13

[Picture courtesy: BehindWoods]

Kamal in the making

Fellow blogger Bharath recently dug up an old article by Sujatha on Kamal. Dating back to 1976, it was probably the time when Sujatha and Kamal got acquainted. Without more ado, let me (not too badly) translate some key portions of the article.

There was nothing really luxurious in his room, save the air-conditioner…I spotted books on American film history and sound in cinema…He is very casual when explaining the funny things on his job. He knows of European directors like Polanski and Goddard. I’m able to enthusiastically analyse a shot from Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy with him for ten minutes. “Looks like Malayalam movies are not bad these days”, I said. “That was then. Now, Malayalam movies are going backwards”, he says. “Malayalam movie!”, he adds, pointing to his pink shirt.

“While picturising a song, it is convenient for the heroine to leave her hair loose. If she forgets the lip-sync, she can just hide behind her hair!”

In the loud-speaking and ‘loud-acting’ Tamil film world, I expect a new wave from the gentle, imaginative and believable Kamal Haasan.

Kamal was not even 22 at this time and was possibly on the verge of becoming a star. No more words from me. If you know Tamil, enjoy the whole piece.