BY Haricharan Pudipeddi
Kamal Haasan, who turned 60 Friday, is not just an actor par excellence, but he has also donned multiple hats such as a filmmaker, writer, dancer, music composer. His colleagues speak highly about the versatile talent.
Speaking to different people Kamal has worked with, to find out more about the multi-faceted artist.
Nobody can understand cinema like Kamal, says renowned filmmaker K. Vishwanath.
“I haven’t seen a better actor who can understand cinema like Kamal does. I say this, because most actors only focus on acting, but Kamal waits for an opportunity to learn a new craft. He’s a great dancer, but when we were shooting for ‘Saagara Sangamam’, he insisted that he’d learn especially for his role,” Vishwanath said.
Haasan played a gifted dancer who turns alcoholic in the Telugu film, which received two National Awards.
In last year’s Tamil spy-thriller “Vishwaroopam”, audiences were mesmerised by Kamal’s Kathak performance in the song “Unnai Kaanadhu Naan”, which was choreographed by maestro Birju Maharaj.
“Even though he is a highly talented dancer, he trained hard for the song. He spent hours getting every step right and he deserves special appreciation for that. What is more interesting is that he is the only male I have ever choreographed for,” Birju Maharaj had said after receiving the National Award for the song.
Playwright and scriptwriter Crazy Mohan, who has worked with Kamal in over 20 Tamil films, considers the latter “a gifted writer”.
“There are a few actors who can also write really well. Kamal is definitely one among them. I think he should write regularly. Then, we might get some great stories from him. He writes poetry as well,” he said.
For sound designer Kunal Rajan, who had worked with Kamal in “Vishwaroopam”, the experience was “delightful”.
“Not only do his movies give technicians like me the scope to perform, but also, Kamal Haasan, the director, always wants to experiment with new ideas and state of the art technology to tell stories innovatively,” Kunal said.
“Working with Kamal and seeing him explain what he wants, his energy and his innovative ideas made a lot of difference to the output. He is one of the most brilliant filmmakers I have ever worked with and his enthusiasm was not only inspiring for me but for my entire sound team,” he said.
Actor-filmmaker Ramesh Aravind says Kamal is always keen to learn new things. And he does that with a lot of patience.
Ramesh has directed Kamal in upcoming Tamil film “Uttama Villain”. In the film, Kamal has dabbled with an ancient art form called Theyyam.
“It was Kamal’s idea to use Theyyam. None of us had even heard about it. He spent a lot of time to learn it. Which actor is willing to spend time to learn new stuff for films? Most do what they’re told by their directors,” Ramesh said.
Kamal underwent exhaustive make-up sessions for the role.
“He patiently sat for four hours the first time he got the make-up on his face for the motion poster of the film. He had also designed the look of the character and he ensured that he got it right every time he sat down in the make-up room,” Ramesh said.
While Ramesh enjoys watching Kamal Haasan act, he looks up to him when he dons the hat of a writer.
Filmmaker Singeetham Srinivasa Rao says Kamal has the “zeal” to do “anything for a role”.
“I’ve been asked over a hundred times how Kamal Haasan did that dwarf’s role in ‘Apoorva Sagodharargal’. And I keep saying only he could do it. We did use some tricks, but he worked extremely hard for the role,” he said.
Kamal Haasan has never ceased to amaze everybody. Here’s wishing he continues doing so with many more years in cinema.