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Kamal Haasan Says Receiving France’s Highest Decoration, The Chevalier, Is Humbling

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Actor Kamal Haasan will be awarded the Chevalier de L’Ordre Arts et Lettres (The Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) by the French government. The Chevalier order of merit is awarded “to recognize eminent artists and writers, as well as people who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world.” The Chevalier order is part of France’s highest decoration, the Legion of Honor.

Kamal Haasan released an audio byte to thank his fans and well wishers. In the audio, he said, “On this occasion, I bow before my more deserving forerunners, Mr Satyajit Ray and Mr. Sivaji Ganesan, who made even the common man realise the value of the Chevalier Award. This award humbles me rather than stiffens me with pride.”

Further, “I realise my journey in my chosen field has not been alone. Teachers and admirers abounded around me. With motherly care they have applauded my every little step forward. The melancholy of my parents not being alive to see this day is allayed by the fact that the elders and the young are still around in my family to enjoy it. I dedicate this award to my admirers and audience, who give me the tenacity of purpose to pursue, to this day and moment, my arts and letters. Thank you.”

The Order is divided into five degrees, beginning with the Chevalier (knight) rank, and progressing to the Officier (officer), Commandeur (commander), Grand Officier (Grand Officer), and Grand Croix (Grand Cross) ranks. While membership to the Legion is restricted to French nationals, foreigners are awarded distinctions if they have served France or the ideals it upholds.

Other Indians who have been conferred the Chevalier Order include actors Sivaji Ganesan, Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Nandita Das, and Shah Rukh Khan.

Congratulatory messages have poured in from Kamal Haasan’s friends and well-wishers:

Kamal Haasan also received the Henri Langlois Award in March this year for his contribution to cinema in France. Kamal is also a recipient of the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civillian award in India. He is currently directing and acting in the trilingual film Sabash Naidu.

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