Over the decades, Kamal Haasan has been part of some truly pathbreaking films, and an equal number that celebrate his charisma. That is why, it is difficult for his fans to choose just one, or maybe two, favourite films of his. On his birthday, Silverscreen speaks to his fans to come up with five top picks.
In all probability, these might be yours too: Anbe Sivam, Aboorva Sagodharargal, Aalavandhaan, Uthama Villain and Vishwaroopam.
Logesh Balachandran, media professional
For every Kamal fan, this film would have been a life-changing experience. In fact, I learnt to be kinder to people after watching this film. The film, directed by Sundar C, is, on the face of it, a simple story. But, it uses so many layers to drive home the message that love is god – Anbe Sivam. The basic story is about a street theatre artiste who loves the daughter of a rich man. The bus he’s travelling in meets with an accident because a dog comes in the way. He nearly dies, but is revived. His face is deformed, his limbs don’t cooperate, but his heart beats as much as it used to, for people. He chooses to lose the love of his life, and adopts the dog that caused the accident. Providing the other angle is Madhavan, a new-age professional who slowly realises Kamal’s greatness and calls him his elder brother. Only Kamal could have essayed this role so effectively. How he’d transformed himself for it!
“A different thought”
When it released in 2001, Aalavandhan was what you would call a different film. It was technically strong, and the imagery was powerful. In one of the dual roles, Kamal takes drugs, and the hallucinations take the form of cartoons. That was mind-blowing. I remember that a director from Hollywood had said he was inspired by that innovative thought in Aalavandhaan. Kamal has always been at the forefront of change in Tamil cinema, and his thinking has been years ahead. He keeps updating himself. The peculiar traits he infused into the two characters, to showcase their difference, was outstanding.
Madhan Reddy, IT professional
One minute, Kathak dancer Kamal, a picture of grace, attends a phone call and says, “Hello.. This is Mr & Mrs Viswanath’s residence.” A few scenes later, the transformation from dancer Viswanath to RAW agent Viz is epic. This was an intelligent film, and I watched that particular scene innumerable times just to see how effortlessly he flit from one role to another. I’m eagerly waiting for its sequel.
“One of his best”
Santha Sundaresan, HR professional
I recall one particular scene where Kamal speaks to his daughter from his first wife. Parvathy tells him that she’s not like him, but like her mother. But, a mirror shot tells us otherwise. Her mannerisms mimic that of her father. I wonder if anyone else could have conceived of such a scene. His acting in that scene defies words. The film reflected life too. A dying actor asks his guru (played by director K. Balachander) to make a film for him. In reality, it was Balachander’s (Kamal’s real-life guru) last film with Kamal Haasan. It touched a chord.
Mani Radhakrishnan, accountant
Till today, many wonder how Kamal pulled off the role of Appu, the dwarf. To think he achieved that effect at a time when there was not much technical advancement is nothing short of brilliant. Kamal has many good scenes in the film, but my favourites are two: When the girl he loves tells him she called him to the register office to sign as witness and not to marry him, tears pour out of his eyes, even as he smiles. Till today, that scene moves me. In another, the look on his face when his mother refers to him as a dwarf, has to be seen to be believed. I think it is a landmark film if you look at movies that feature an actor in dual roles.