Kamal Haasan, is a rationalist but that doesn’t stop him from using concepts from Indian mythology. But as a youngster, Kamal learned the vedas and also performed pooja at his Alwarpet residence in Chennai.
The 63-year-old actor’s character in Vishwaroopam (both 1 and 2) is actually based on Arjuna in Virata Parva where the great warrior taught dance and music as a eunuch Brihannala to princess Uttara and dressed like a woman at the Matsya Kingdom.
In Vishwaroopam, Kamal hides his identity and teaches dance to young girls in the USA. His character is also unmistakably effeminate. In Dasavatharam too, ‘writer’ Kamal Haasan talked about the conflict between the devotees of Lord Shiva and Vishnu.
“Those stories belong to my ancestors. My biggest worry is that they confused mythology and history. I think mythology is necessary for any country, America doesn’t have any such stories so they created Superman and other comics.
If you carefully look at those comics, they are nothing but man-made mythology. I enjoy talking and getting into the nuances of those stories with my friends. People say Vyasa and Thiruvalluvar are not just individuals. Despite being a visually challenged, how did Homer write The Iliad and Odyssey?” he asks.
Kamal says that he always wanted to take Tamil cinema forward and break stereotypes. “A good friend of mine said that there is no big difference in the love stories of Tamil cinema. At the end of the day, the dad wouldn’t accept the love of his son/daughter which is the common factor in all the love stories of Tamil cinema, he told me that my Thevar Magan itself was based on the same concept and I was shocked. When we made Salangai Oli, there was a sequence where my character had to dance on the songs from the film but I told K Vishwanath that classical dancers like me would only criticise the sequences.
So, he gladly accepted to have one scene where we mocked the traditional dance steps often seen in films. The club dance in films is to satisfy the distributors. If I’m right, Modern Theaters changed the trend of making films on par with world cinema standards, their Vallavan Oruvan was different from MGR and Sivaji Ganesan’s films. It was a cross between The Godfather and espionage films but they had to keep an unwanted song. My longtime aim is to deliver a proper spy thriller to our audiences”, said Haasan.
In fact, when Kamal and Mani Ratnam first met before Nayakan, the former wanted the latter to direct a spy thriller. “After watching Vikram (a spy thriller), Mani Ratnam was worried because the film market scientists didn’t allow him to direct a spy thriller featuring me in the lead. Tamil cinema missed the lovely combo Mani Ratnam- Sujatha Kamal Haasan because of those market scientists. To be honest, no one knows the box office potential of films before release. At least, I gladly accept this fact”, added the actor.
Kamal said that in Vishwaroopam 2, the stunt sequences would be way better than the first part. “I should thank my actors too, they all performed the stunts on their own and didn’t think that spending time for rehearsal was a waste of time”, said the actor.
As a writer, Kamal incorporates things which happen in his real life. For example, we get to see relationship woes in many of his films these days; in Mahanadi, we saw a doting dad and in Vishwaroopam, we saw a marriage of convenience. “I agree with that point. Any writer’s work will have shades of his own life. The great Tamil poet and lyricist Kannadasan wrote ‘Oru Koppayile En Kudiruppu’.
These words are reflections of his life but he never felt shy about it, such a brave man he is. Shakespeare wrote a lot of things happened in his life and who knows? India’s legendary writers Kambar and Valmiki too would have written things which they experienced in their lives”.
Kamal says films have an aesthetic factor and one can’t work like a chemist. “Market factor is ever changing, it can’t be cracked by using a simple formula and it’s not an agama ritual to blindly follow.
Film market is an ever changing equation but people think that they can follow one formula and make 1000 profitable films, which is completely wrong. It won’t work in aesthetics and sometimes, they try to simplify the formula and at the end, we only get crass movies. The industry never asked to make Baahubali, it was one man (SS Rajamouli) who dreamed about it.
No one asked me to write a story featuring a dwarf guy in the lead role, I thought it would be the biggest USP and even after thirty years, people still remember Appu (his character in Apoorva Sagodharargal/Appu Raja). There was a time when we used to copy things from world cinema and brag about it.
Reverse engineering is an easy task but engineering is not. Charlie Chaplin delivered inimitable performance and films. Similarly, I always wanted to be unique but it’s risky too, you could fail but that doesn’t matter”, said Haasan.
Before signing off, Kamal said Barrie Osborne, one of the producers of Lord of the Rings asked why the actor decided to make Vishwaroopam in two parts? “I told him, it’s a decision of passion. Osborne said he also made Lord of the Rings with the same passion. We were so passionate about our film that we decided to make Vishwaroopam in two parts before tasting the success of the first part”, he concludes.>