Kamal Haasan: In spite of being my senior, Balu Mahendra was a friend

The Chachi 420 actor talks about his equation with the late filmmaker, Balu Mahendra

Kamal Haasan has fond memories of his bonding with prolific filmmaker Balu Mahendra, who recently breathed his last in Chennai. The actor says it was tough to question the creative choices of the director, who helmed Sadma. “Balu Mahendra and I shared a very close relationship. His debut film as a cameraman was with me. We used to sit and talk about films between shots. He used to listen to my scripts. So we had a bonding. In spite of being my senior, he was a friend,” Kamal said.

The legendary filmmaker, who inspired the audience with his visually uplifting films for over three decades, passed away following a heart attack on Thursday (February 13). He was 74.

“When Balu directed his first film Kokila, I was his actor. While actor Shoba, whom Balu loved, played the lead.” added Kamal.

“We had grown up watching cinema from the world over. And I’d like to think we had imbibed a certain maturity in our outlook which showed in our work together. However, my character in Sadma finds Sridevi in a place that epitomizes sex,  a brothel. That whole contrast between her innocence and the world at large was preserved in the way I cocoon, shelter and protect her from the outside world,” he said.

Kamal says his character was based on Balu Mahendra. “At that time he was in love with Shoba, much younger to him. I had known the girl from my childhood. So I asked him what he was doing…playing his creative cards so close to his chest. But he just kept quiet. And he was so senior, I couldn’t question him beyond a point.

“It was an artist’s way of liberating himself from his anguished emotions,” said Kamal.