He is a multi-talented personality, humanitarian, a philanthropist and an institution of learning to say the least. The world popularly knows him as Kamal Haasan, whose performance can leave one and all dumbfounded for eternity. Ever since I started understanding the language of cinema, I knew it was Kamal who defined the world of reel for me. His immaculate dialogue delivery, his spontaneity and his breathtaking performances have inspired me so much that I hold him as the God of cinema and to call him an artiste alone would be an understatement.
He isn’t a superstar like his Tamil contemporary and friend Rajinikanth. He doesn’t have a huge fanatic fan following as Rajini in the south or Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan have across North India. Kamal has his own niche followers who know that he isn’t an actor but a messenger for artists from the heaven.
It is not exaggeration. When I say he is God sent, he is and I mean it. He is certainly an atheist but I a
m not. For me he is that incredible performer who dares to think out of the box and experiment even if it calls for severe criticism.
His films `Sadma`, `Ek Duje Ke Liye`, `Ek Nai Pehli`, `Nayagan`, `Hindustani`, `Mahanadi` have left indelible impact on my mind. If you see him emote a tragic scene, his performance will leave you with a lump in your throat and your eyes teary. Remember the last scene in `Sadma`?
From playing a rustic bumpkin in `16 Vayathinile` ( At the age of 16) to a smuggler in `Nayagan` to playing a diehard patriot in `Indian` (Hindustani in Hindi) Kamal has essayed a wide variety of roles. His controversial film `Dashavatarm` saw him playing 10 different avatars that included former US President George Bush. He takes what it takes to be a true actor, who doesn’t have inhibitions playing a character double his age.
I often wonder why he isn’t a celebrated star. Probably because he is not too much into PR activities and events! However, I do feel that he is one of the most under-rated actors who seldom find a mention in Cinema. Having said that, I do know for a fact that he has his own fan following, who know him more as a humanitarian. May be that’s what is more important.
Kamal’s niche fan following includes Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and the perfectionist Aamir Khan. The late MF Husain too was in awe of him and had claimed that he found Kamal Haasan “as the most exciting Indian film-maker/actor”.
Such is Kamal’s aura.
If you take a deep look into the life of the veteran, you will learn that his aura is spread beyond cinema. He has made good use of his fan club by turning it into a social service centre that orgnaises blood donation and medical campaigns under the banner of Kamal Narpani Iyakkam meaning Kamal Welfare Association. He also uses the money that he earns through endorsements for social welfare.
Not many know that Kamal has also pledged to donate his organs that will be used by medical students for research.
He is a brand in himself, someone who has done a world of good to many poor and needy without hyping his contributions. Very much like his friend Rajini, he likes to keep a low profile.
For the world he is an actor, producer, director, screenwriter, songwriter, playback singer, and lyricist but for me he is someone on whose footsteps I would like to follow, for he is simply a great soul.
Here’s wishing the living legend a very Happy Birthday.
(Kamal Haasan celebrates his birthday on 7 November)
(The views expressed by the author are personal)