He bristles with an energy that’s indescribable. The atmosphere’s all charged-up as he walks in briskly –– people gushing, reporters fumbling,
awestruck fans just gazing ... is this what it means to be star-struck?
Or is it because he is known to be temperamental? Whatever it be, as he gets talking, two things about him become obvious –– a non-compromising attitude that pushes him to live life with passion, and honesty that’s so brutal, that he does not spare even himself.
Meet the legendary Kamal Haasan, who began his tryst with films when he was just six, with Kalathur Kanamma for which he won the National Film Award for Best Child Artist and went on to bag three national awards for Moondram Pirai (1982), Nayagan (1987) and Indian (1996). The actor who was here in the city on Women’s Day with his companion Gautami Tadimalla, a breast cancer survivor and his daughters Akshara and Subbulakshmi, says, “I have always been surrounded by women, even the pets at home are mostly female!” Here’s a glimpse of Kamal in his 11th avatar –– a side of him we’ve never seen before.
Excerpts from an interview
You’ve come to city with a mission and it’s because of Gautami. How has her fight with breast cancer impacted you?
I’ve been waiting for this question to be asked. It’s hurt me here (he says pointing to his heart). It was painful. But all through I haven’t cried –– at the most my eyes get misty –– but that’s it. After my mom, she’s the one who has taught me resilience, all over again. Something I hadn’t felt the need for in the last many years.
We’ve heard that you had filmed her entire hospital treatment?
Yes, it was her choice and it is up to her if she wishes to let others see it. I think it’s the best film she’s ever been a part of. It’s perhaps one film that she has done for the benefit of man and not a businessman! Before Gautami, I had no idea what cancer was all about, even the cancer-patient roles that I had acted and scripted, I now realise, are nowhere close to reality. So, please don’t look up to films for information, it’s just business!
You are an atheist and did you at any time feel the need to reach out to a higher power?
Yes, I did. I called the doctor. It was a two-way communication, unlike the monologue people have with God. We have a saying that goes like this –– If you talk to God people call it bakthi, but if you say God is talking to you, they call it pitchi (madness).
In your film Dasavatharam you have dealt a lot with religion and also atheism. Are you trying to knock sense into peoples’ head on how religion can be twisted for negative purposes?
Be it a Shaivite, who’s made a martyr by an unscrupulous king, or the many other instances in the movie, they do have a message. Every religion has a podium, atheists do not have one. My films are my podium.
You’ve gone through many relationships. What's your take on the institution of marriage?
It’s a grand idea, but I don’t believe in it. Family matters and there are many ways you can keep in touch with your family.
What’s your viewpoint on A R Rahman’s Oscar-winning song?
I think it is a formidable achievement. He’s done what I had always been asking people to do. Don’t accept mediocrity. Strive for excellence. Don’t make mediocrity the standard. Not just of Rahman, I am proud of Resul Pookutty’s achievement and of course the whole team of Slumdog Millionaire.
Have you ever rued that you hadn’t made it to the Oscars?
Oscar-winning films have to meet American standards of film making. I follow Indian standards. I have the ISI mark, what need do I have for an ASI?
What are your future projects? Is there any hope of Marmayogi and Marudhanayagam being revived?
I have signed up for a Telugu film Eenadu with Rama Naidu. It is a remake (Is it A Wednesday we wonder?), for which we had bought the rights. I cannot reveal other details as of now. Coming to Marmayogi, there’s a fund crunch. The moment it’s sorted out we could go with it and I am still hoping that the incomplete Marudhanayagam will be resurrected some day.
Many film stars these days are joining politics. What about you?
I am an actor and acting is what I know best. I’d like to work in my area of competency rather than jump into jobs for which I do not qualify.
Source: Times of India - March 10th