Three teachers, one student!

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One day, when Kamal Haasan was about 14, Natarajan said he’d run out of things to teach. He said it was time for an arangetram. The event occurred at Rasika Ranjani Sabha, and it was attended by the poet and writer Soundara Kailasam, Tamil Arasu Kazhagam founder Ma Po Sivagnanam and T.K. Shanmugam. Given Kamal Haasan’s religious views today (rather, the lack of them), I asked him if he offered the customary prayer to the stage. He said he did. He wasn’t a rationalist then. He used to pray for two hours daily, from the time he was seven. He was one of the few kids who could recite the Manisha Panchakam of Adi Shankara. In the late 1960s, if you walked by Eldams Road at 6.30 in the morning, you could have heard his voice.

After the arangetram, Kamal wanted to learn more, and as Natarajan knew of Kamal’s earlier interest in Kuchipudi, he brought in Guru Nataraja Ramakrishna, who later served as chairman of the Andhra Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi. Then, when these teachers and their students were invited by the Maharashtra police to perform in a series of shows across the State, they decided that some Kathak was needed in the mix – a Kathak instructor named Kulkarni was brought in from Kolhapur.

So, at one point, there were three teachers in that Eldams Road home – much to the consternation of Kamal’s sister, who worried that this mix of styles would amount to Oriental Dancing – training dancers from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., every day. Kamal would dance for some six to seven hours, every day.

Kamal Haasan said, “This was a vibrant school. It was not classy like Kalakshetra. I wish we could have had all that, but this is what we could afford.”

The troupe completed rehearsals and went to Maharashtra. They performed about 30 shows, staying in police colonies and touring in a police bus. During the show at Sholapur, there was an accident. An oil lamp was removed from the stage, and a little slick of oil was left behind. Kamal had to do “this slightly acrobatic peacock dance,” which involved splits.

Kamal Haasan said wryly, “It was about a hunter and a peacock and the peacock died that day.” It was a trabecular fracture of the left patella, and it left him limping. But according to the contract, he had to be on stage, so the last few days, he played the chenda.

When he returned home, Kamal was told he couldn’t dance anymore. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t have much of an education. Just to tease his mother, who was complaining about his not doing anything, he worked as a barber for a week in Ambuli Saloon in front of his house. (This part doesn’t just sound like a screenplay. Many years later, this is what his character would end up doing in ‘Varumayin Niram Sivappu’.) They wouldn’t let him cut hair, but shaving was okay. Kamal Haasan said, “Even today, all my moustaches, including the one for ‘Virumaandi’, were shaved by me.”

Eventually, Kamal landed a small assignment. The Christian Arts and Communications Centre, just across his house, wanted someone to help with the choreography for a dance drama that would disperse the word of Christ through Bharatanatyam. There, Kamal met K. Thangappan, a student of Jaishankar Master, the choreographer of ‘Chandralekha’. His assistant – Sundaram, Prabhu Dheva’s father – had left to pursue an independent career, so he was looking for a replacement.

“I thought I’d made it,” Kamal Haasan said. “I was in films.” But he wasn’t interested in acting – only dancing. And as Thangappan had trained under Guru Gopinath, the famous Kathakali exponent, another style found its way into Kamal’s repertoire. (It was a small world. Kamal, as a child actor, had worked with Guru Gopinath’s daughter in the Malayalam film ‘Kannum Karalum’.)

Kamal Haasan spoke of the dance sequence in ‘Nizhal Nijamaagiradhu’, where his character slips into the heroine’s class (she’s a dance teacher) and proceeds to give an impromptu performance that leaves her stunned. “The reason that dance was so masculine was because of Thangappan master’s training, because of the Kathakali style.”

Kamal honours film journalists

Actor Kamal Hassan honoured five film journalists at a function at Sir Pitti Theagaraya Hall here recently, as part of the 61st annual celebrations of the Film Journalists Guild.

Actors Kamal Haasan and Sivakumar presented lifetime achievement awards to Pesumpadam Sampathkumar, Bommai Sarathy, Nagai Dharman, Film News Anandhan and Randor Guy. Awards were also presented to several other film journalists.

Kamal Haasan also released a souvenir to mark 60 years of the guild, and the first copy was received by Sivakumar. Actor Manorama, who made a public appearance after a long time, praised the contributions of the journalists.

On behalf of the guild, a purse was presented to the five journalists. Kamal Haasan, Sivakumar, Vikram and Raghava Lawrence too announced that they too would contribute to the purse.

Kamal at FTII!

Actor-filmmaker Kamal Haasan has revealed that he ‘has never had’ his freedom while making films.“No Indian filmmaker has had full freedom of speech as compared to the rest of the world. Hence, I must complain I’ve never had my freedom, I’m yet to see my full freedom,” Kamal said in a conference.“Time divides freedom and anarchy. Freedom should come with ‘Lakshman Rekha’. Freedom will be constant.

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Freedom is like your body; you have to feed it, guard it and take care of it,” he added. Kamal, who has been a prominent member of the entertainment industry for over five decades now, had on January 28 asked his fans in a video to send him questions on Twitter regarding freedom.Sharing his views on the much-hyped protests by students of the premier Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) against the appointment of actor Gajendra Chauhan as chairman, Kamal said: “FTII students are trend-setters; some of them have been pride of India. Government should have appointed an empathetic person”.Speaking on critics, Kamal said that they “should be more tolerant”.
“Criticism should be constructive and not destructive,” he added.

How Ramesh met Kamal Haasan

“I was asked to compere an event — to celebrate the successful run of Sagara Sangamam in Bangalore — and I saw Kamal Haasan there. That was the first time I saw him. But my actual meeting with him was much later.

I was playing Kamal’s role in the Kannada remake of Sollathan Ninaikiren. Director K. Balachander, who was working on Punnagai Mannan at that time, took me to the sets and introduced me to him. He just said, ‘Kannada padathula pichu odarran pa ivan’ and went away. I recall Kamal sir in the Charlie Chaplin costume that day — he was shooting for the ‘Maamaavukku Kudumaa’ number. And there, below a reflector, was the first time we exchanged words. I was also fortunate to see the shoot of the song, and the unique technique with which Kamal moves around with a cane chair stuck to his back.”

Fan film on Kamal

It’s a YouTube video. A sketch of the child Kamal Haasan in Kalathur Kannamma segues seamlessly into another of the young actor being carried by Sivaji Ganesan. A voice in the background tells the story of Kamal’s life before he became ‘Ulaganaayagan’. The three-minute video is just the first episode of a documentary called The Master and the Masterpiece now on YouTube.

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The makers are Arun and Rajesh, two corporate guys who could not afford to take a break from their jobs to pursue their filmmaking ambition. Their Eureka moment arrived when they discovered that Kamal would soon be celebrating his 60th birthday. And, as if the universe was conspiring, they met and befriended Lakshmanan (Latchu), an artist famous for making sketches of people in the news. And when Karthik Srinivas of Noise and Grains Productions stepped in to bring the team together, they finally got their big idea. They decided to make a video documentary on Kamal Haasan to be released in parts on YouTube. The idea was easy, the execution wasn’t. As this wasn’t an official documentary, they had to rely mainly on YouTube videos, old newspaper stories, and TV interviews to piece the actor’s life together. “For instance,” says Arun, “we learned that Kamal was introduced to K. Balachander by Gemini Ganesan from an old interview of AVM Saravanan.”

Papanasam: A faithful remake

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My favourite bit was a reference to Padikkadha Medhai. At first, it’s just a pun, a Crazy Mohan-lite joke. Later, we see that it’s an allusion to Suyambulingam himself, someone who’s hardly educated and yet has the street smarts to… no, I won’t tell you. Kamal takes a cue from Sivaji Ganesan in that earlier film. Not only does he say his hairstyle is like Sivaji’s, he also pitches his performance at a more ‘cinematic’ level than Mohanlal did in Drishyam. Future film scholars are going to tie themselves up in knots about who is better, which approach is better, but for now, let’s just say Kamal Haasan is terrific. And it’s terrific to see him play a ‘normal’ part, something that doesn’t ask you to view it through special Subtext Revealing Glasses. As fun as that is, sometimes, more of this, please.

 

Thoongavanam trailer released!

Kamal Haasan on Wednesday unveiled the trailer of his upcoming Tamil action-thriller Thoongaavanam.
In the action-packed trailer, Haasan and Prakash Raj trade blows.”In a long time, I’ve felt we’ve made a film that is totally organised with a vision,” Prakash Raj told reporters. He also added that Thoongaavanam will create a new path in the thriller genre in Indian cinema.
Trisha, who has teamed up with Kamal for the second time, said she considers herself extremely lucky to have got the opportunity.
A racy thriller, the film is said to unfold in a single night in a bar called Insomnia.The film also features Madhu Shalini, Sampath Raj, Kishore and Asha Sharath in important roles. Kamal Haasan plays a policeman, while Prakash Raj will be seen as his corrupt partner.
Directed by Kamal’s long-time associate Rajesh M Selva, the film has been simultaneously Amade in Telugu as Cheekati Rajyam.maxresdefault (1)

Iconic Kamal looks recreated

Lakshmi Priyaa recreating Kamal’s looks from ‘Anbe Sivam’ and ‘Apoorva Sahotharargal’.TH30_KAMAL_1_GE_TH_2529035gTH30_KAMAL_1_GE_TH_2529036g

Theatre and film actor Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli, who confesses that she is a ‘big’ fan of actor Kamal Haasan, wanted to experience how Kamal Haasan would have felt donning vastly different characters in film after film. What did she do? Along with three of her friends — Lalitha Rajamanickam (Make Up), Subashini Vanangamudi (Photographer), Dakshana Rajaram (Stylist), she recreated the looks of her most favourite characters played by actor Kamal Haasan. A total of 9 movies were selected and 12 iconic still photographs were recreated.

Kamal for Jallikattu!

Actor Kamal Haasan inaugurated a photo-exhibition on Jallikattu by Suresh Jayaprakash, a photo journalist attached to Malayalam Manorama, at Lalit Kala Akademi on Monday.

The actor, who has been vocal about his approval for restarting the ‘tradition’, reportedly said that Jallikattu must not be confused with bull-fighting in Spain.

The actor is reported to have said that in Spain, they would hurt the animal and it would die. In Tamil Nadu, bulls were treated like a God, as part of the family.

Speaking about the 60 photographs on display titled ‘Veera Vilayattu’, the actor said that the photographs showcased thousands of years of tradition.

 

 

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Lensman Mr. Suresh J. said that he had been covering the popular event for the last 15 years. “I went to Alanganallur in 1998 and have gone there every year. It is an event that reminds us of the rich history and tradition of the south,” he said.

Mr.Suresh also said that he would favour restarting the event. “In the last 15 years, I have honestly not seen a bull being mistreated. Contrary to that, bulls are treated so well,” he said.

Always wear helmet : Kamal

The star had drawn flak for riding bike without one in his upcoming movie ‘Papanasam’.

With the compulsory helmet rule coming into force on July 1, actor Kamal Haasan urged two-wheeler riders to wear a helmet and drive safe.

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At a press interaction few weeks earlier, Kamal Haasan was criticised for not wearing a helmet in a sequence in Papanasam where the actor is seen riding a two-wheeler with three other characters on the same bike.

Referring to criticism, the actor said, “Please wear a helmet while riding a two-wheeler. The argument usually is that we actors don’t wear helmet in the movies. The stunts performed on a pipe at a circus cannot be performed on the pipes at home,” he said.