Thursday, December 09, 2010

Kamal Hassan–Master of all trades

Kamal Hassan has over the years donned many roles in Indian cinema. Ulaganayagan(roughly translates to ‘Hero of the world’), as he is fondly called, was all of three when he sprung into the silver screen. Now am not going to rewind the history path travelled by Kamal, which many would be vaguely aware of and this piece doesn’t even venture into it.
I am very sure that no one in Indian cinema was, is or ever will be able to master many sub-fields within a field, as was achieved by Kamal Hassan. After his initial on-screen presence during his childhood days, Kamal was more inclined to be part of the behind- the-glitz and glamour team.
Choreographer: As a choreographer, he worked with many leading heroes in Tamil cinema like Sivaji and MGR in those days. He is one of the very few heroes who can dance both Bharathanatyam and the western dance with elan. Not many(may be none) can boast off such command over both sides of the spectrum. His dance repertoire in Salangai Oli was applauded by the masses and was watched in awe by many in the film fraternity.
Actor: This probably is the easiest part. The guy needs no introduction in this segment. A prolific actor, Kamal is the recipient of 3 national awards(for ‘Nayagan’, ‘Moondram Pirai and ‘Indian’). But the most striking feature about his acting, atleast to me, is his timing for comedy. Humour is not easy, when it has to be enacted. Kamal is the king of comedy genre. Many films like ‘Panchathantiram’, ‘Michael Madana Kamarajan’, ‘Thenali’, ‘Sathileelavathi’, ‘Pammal K Sambandam’, ‘Vasool Raja MBBS’ and not to forget ‘Singaravelan’ are a very few of his best works in Comedy genre. So, comedy is probably my favourite in his works, though his works in films like ‘Indian’, ‘Nayagan’, ‘Devar Magan’ and the evergreen ‘Anbe Sivam’ are etched in everyones memory.
Director/ Screen Play writer: Kamal wanted to be a director, very much like his guru K.Balachander. Maybe, the knowledge rubbed into him and here we have the director of aptly structure movies like ‘Virumaandi’. He has a great share behind the scenes in he movies like ‘Mahanadi’, ‘Devar Magan’ and ‘Dasavatharam’. Many criticise Kamal for his over involvement in many of his films, many a time turning into Director, Cinematographer, Music director. But, somebody with so much talent would be best advised to take a share of all these if the outcome is a much better play. His screen play in ‘Devar Magan’, ‘Mahanadi’ and ‘Dasavatharam’ was applauded by even the worst of his critics.
Polyglot: Kamal is someone who not only has strong control over his mother tongue Tamil and also English, he is someone who knows atleast 8 other languages. His control over many languages comes to the fore in his climax scene in ‘Panchathantiram’. Language skill is such an important criteria in films, especially if you are in India, with languages sprouting every Friday. I can strongly say no one the Film industry has the skill to converse with his fellow Indians in their mother tongue as does Kamal.
Tamil Poet: This is one of the most interesting face of Kamal.  His use of tamil with all its intricacies makes people sit up and take note. Of late, he is building his own niche as a Tamil poet. ‘Venbaa’ is a grammatically difficult set of poems in tamil which needs deep knowledge of Tamil language to understand, let alone pen them. It has rules like every line should have four words only, last line should have three words, the first word in the penultimate line should be an independent word and totally only four lines.(Hope am right in the grammer part). His sing-song poem in ‘Manmadan Ambu’ , is a big example to Kamal’s writing skills.
Singer: Kamal may not be in the elite group of singers like SPB, Yesudas, Hariharan and Unni Krishanan, but he surely has laid out his own mark as a singer. The immediate songs that come to mind as ‘Yaar Yaar Sivam’ from ‘Anbe Sivam’, ‘Marugo’ from ‘Sathileelavathi’, ‘Inzhi Iduppu’ from ‘Devar Magan’ and the soothing song from ‘Manmadan Ambu’, ‘Neela Vanam’(such a fantastic song from the master himself). The distinct voice of his is exploited to the hilt, to get the best out of himself.
Aethiest: Though from a very orthrodox Tamil Iyengar Kamal has no such ideals. A staunch proponent against marriage institutions(not surprising, he has two divorced marriages before), Kamal is of the clad who calls themselves rationalist and doesn’t believe in the so callled enity ‘God’. Its a very private side of his life, which gets much publicised.
The many faces adapted by this man makes him a true legend, not just in Indian cinema,but also as a go-getter human being. I have always been fascinated and awed at not the different roles he takes up in reel life, but the range of different hue that he has taken up in real life.