Friday, August 14, 2009

50 years in showbiz - Kamal Haasan

50 years in showbiz_Kamal Haasan

In his five-decade-long career, he has acted in more than 150 films in different Indian languages, directed movies and won several awards. Kamal Haasan, one of the finest actors of Indian cinema, completes 50 years in showbiz

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Film: 'Kalathor Kannamma'

Director: A.Bhimsingh

It was the golden twilight of Indian cinema. A little boy of six was putting on the grease paint and rehearsing his dialogues, with grit that would shame veterans. His name was.... well... take a guess!

The wide-eyed toddler took the crew by surprise with his histrionics, and walked away with the President's Award for the best child artiste, the first of his four national crowns!

Everything that would later distinguish him as an actor was there in this first film: Composure in front of camera, brilliance in emoting, the ability to evoke empathy. And charisma.

The prodigy had arrived!

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Year: 1977

Director: Bharathiraja

As Chappani, a lame, dim-witted rustic, Kamal Haasan tests the boundaries of film acting. He experiments with costumes and make-up. The film becomes a massive hit at the marquee; wins critical acclaim as well. Kamal gets the viewer's nod for the offbeat move. Chappani serves as prototype for later Kamal characters such as the ones in 'Kalyanaraman', 'Swathimuthyam' and even 'Guna'

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Film: 'Moondram Pirai'

Year: 1982

Director: Balu Mahendra

One of Kamal Haasan's greatest efforts till date. Compliments the lazy charm of the narrative with some brilliant emoting. A tearful Balu tries frantically to revive the memories in the once-amnesic woman he loved. India finds hard to hold back the tears. Bollywood is impressed. And Kamal gets his second national award.

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Film: 'Nayagan'

Year: 1987

Director: Mani Ratnam

A take on Brando's Vito Corleone, Velu Naicker is authority personified. The six-to-sixty span of the character enables Kamal to showcase his "range". We see Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Sylvester Stallone and Kamal Haasan for one ticket. 'Time' magazine rates this movie among the 100 best films of all time. The national award jury does an encore. Award number 3!

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Film: 'Indran Chandran'

Year: 1989

Director: Suresh Krishna

Kamal Haasan's love for disguises is legendary. He writes 'Indrudu Chandrudu' ( remade into Tamil as 'Indran Chandran') for himself . Employs a jelly belly and a protruding canine for one of the double roles. The second one is for the adoring thousands: the handsome hero who sings and dances. Repeats the double-feat with aplomb in 'Apoorva Sahodararkal', in which he plays a midget to perfection.

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Film: 'Chachi 420' (remake of 'Avvai Shanmughi')

Year: 1998

Director: K.S.Ravikumar

Lifts Robin Williams' 'Mrs Doubtfire' and replants it in Indian climes. Plays a man who plays a woman. The disguise is perfect except that the excessive application of prosthetics gives his bosom and butt a stony look. Follows it up with another make-up marvel, 'Indian'. He plays an INA man rebelling against a corrupt system. Lands a fourth national award.

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Film: 'Alavanthan'

Year: 1996

Director: Suresh Krishna

Yet another double-role. Plays brothers Major Vijay and Nandu. Tries to explore the inner world of the psychopath. Alleged use of steroids to achieve a menacing physique. A stand out performance by all standards. Receives a definite thumbs-down at the marquee. Retires hurt!

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Film: 'Anbe Sivam'

Year: 2003

Director: Suresh Krishna

Gives a sneak peek into the beliefs that maketh Kamal Haasan, the human being—his atheism, his leftism and his faith in the ultimate goodness of mankind. Experiments on facial make-up. Succeeds in making the character, Nalla Sivam, look as grotesque as is possible. The film is rated as one of the best Tamil films till date. In spite of its altruistic, sincere intentions, 'Anbe Sivam' fails to set the cash registers ringing

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Film: 'Virumaandi'

Year: 2004

Director: Kamal Haasan

Set in the backdrop of feuding Thevars, the film attempts a closer look at the blurring lines between right and wrong. Narrated on the lines of the Kurasowa classic, 'Rashomon', the director leaves the viewers with the case file and the hammer. Kamal's protagonist steals the show.

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