The versatile actor-director turns 59, today
Born on November 7, 1954, Kamal Haasan – the iconic Indian actor, can now look back on a lifetime devoted to cinema. Kamal, who began as a child artiste, in the film Kalathur Kannamma, has achieved much and experienced even more – from commercial success to critical acclaim and his share of controversy, too.
This actor was one of veteran filmmaker K Balachander’s finest discoveries. In his early years, he featured in highly rated films with ensemble casts – such as Aval Oru Thodarkathai and Arangetram. He got his breakthrough, appearing in a lead role in Apoorva Ragangal, which was also Rajinikanth’s launch pad. The Kamlal-K Balachander combination also came up with memorable films like Moondru Mudichu, Manmadha Leelai and Avargal.
In the next phase of his career, Kamal dived headlong into full-on masala cinema, doing films like Sakalakalavallavan, Oru Kaidhiyin Diary and Khaki Chattai. There were also gentle romances such as Sagara Sangamam by K Vishwanath (Salangai Oli in Tamil).
Quite early in his career, Kamal began to reveal his penchant for experimenting and collecting awards. In Bharathiraja’s 16 Vayathinile he played the village idiot and in Balu Mahendra’s Moondram Pirai (Sadma in Hindi) he played a man caring for a mentally challenged woman; the role would get him his first national award for best actor. The second was for Nayagan by Mani Ratnam, in which he played a Mumbai Don and, later, he won the national award for his role in Indian.
In his long and committed cinema career Kamal has done a huge number of memorable roles and it would be hard to name just a few. There was Apoorva Sahodharargal (Appu Raja in Hindi), in which he played a circus dwarf, Punnagai Mannan in which he paid tribute to Charlie Chaplin, Thevar Magan in which he starred alongside Sivaji Ganesan and Anbe Sivam. One could go on and on.
Kamal has displayed his talent for intelligent comedy in films such as Michael Madhanakamarajan, Tenali, Panchathanthiram and Pammal K Sambandam. He also starred in Vasool Raja, MBBS, the Tamil remake of Munnabhai MBBS.
Kamal’s latest project has been the Viswaroopam series and right now he’s working on Viswaroopam 2 which is expected to release soon.