NMTV Profiles Multifaceted Indian actor Kamal Hassan

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Kamal Haasan was born in 1954 into a Tamil Brahmin family of lawyers. After several projects as a child, Haasan’s breakthrough as a lead actor came in the 1975 drama Apoorva Raagangal, in which he played a rebellious youth in love with an older woman. Kamal Haasan was noted for his performance in Mani Ratnam’s 1987 Tamil film Nayagan, rated by Time magazine as one of the best films in cinema history. Since then, he has starred in nearly 200 films in the major Indian languages – Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi. He has been a part of the film industry for 52 years, as of 2012.

His journey in cinema has seen him don various roles – from child artiste, to romantic lead to one of the most respected and revered heroes of the film industry today.He has famously said that he is a reluctant actor. He has an avid interest in every aspect of filmmaking and is known for his work as a choreographer, director, and writer, as well.He wrote his first script at age 18 for the film “Unarchigal” (1976), which was then followed by films that have gone on to become cult classics – Rajapaarvai (1981), Sathya (1988), Apoorva Sahotharargal (1989), Thevar Magan (1992), Mahanadi (1994), Kurudhippunal (1995), Avvai Shanmugi (1996), Hey Ram (2000), Pammal K Sambandam (2002), Panchathanthiram (2002), Anbe Sivam (2003), are a few of the films etched in popular memory for having set the bar for craftsmanship in the fields of screenplay, script, and dialogue.

Kamal Haasan’s strong convictions in his art have led to some of Indian cinema’s most path-breaking films like Pushpak / Pushpaka Vimaanam / Pesum Padam (1987). Kamal Haasan also worked as a choreographer while transitioning as a well-known child artiste to the lead actor in a feature length film. Some of his best-known work as a dancer can be seen in Saagara Sangamam (1983) and the popular hit Punnagai Mannan (1986).Kamal Haasan is also a student of Carnatic music, studying under musical maestro Dr. Balamuralikrishna. One of his biggest hits as a playback singer was the song “Inji Iduppazhagi” for the film Thevar Magan.

His career as a director began with the film Chachi 420 (1997), the Hindi remake of Avvai Shanmugi. Since then he has called the shots for critically acclaimed films like “Hey Ram” and “Virumaandi”. Kamal Haasan has two daughters with actress Sarika : Shruti Haasan and Akshara Haasan. Haasan has won several Indian film awards including four National Film Awards and 19 Filmfare Awards. With seven submissions, Kamal Haasan has starred in the highest number of films submitted by India for the Academy Award Best Foreign Language Film. He became the first Indian actor to get Rs 1 crore as his remuneration for a single film in 1994.

Before him, it was Rajesh Khanna who was the highest paid Indian actor from 1970-1987. He has never hesitated to state his opinions and encourage debate about topics that are socially relevant. He is a rationalist in thought and moderate in opinion and a humanist in philosophy. The need to be socially conscious is seen in the way his fan clubs have revamped themselves into entities that carry out charity and volunteer work. Currently Kamal Haasan is part of the Mission “Clean India” set by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.