59 years ago today, a film Kalathur Kannamma hit the screens. The film starred top actors Gemini Ganesan and Savitri. In the film was a child actor about four years old whose performance won the hearts of the audience and the critics. That little boy went on to become one of the biggest actors and stars of the Indian film industry… Ulaga Nayagan Kamal Haasan.
A prolific actor, talented dancer, amazing singer, thought-provoking writer and a risk-taking filmmaker, Kamal Haasan has to his credit over 200 films. From his debut as a child actor to his latest release Vishwaroopam II, he has done every kind of role that is there. He is played the hero, the villain, dressed as woman, done dual roles, quartets even ten roles in a film. He has played a hopeless lover, a Casanova, a rebel, a cop, a teacher… you name it and he has done it.
Kamal has acted in not just Tamil, but in Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi movies. He went on to work with some of the top actors in Hindi like Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor.
In Tamil he did several movies with Rajinikanth. Their on screen camaraderie and off screen friendship is considered one of the strongest even today. Among his leading ladies, he was most loved for his movie with Sridevi and Sripriya.
Today as Kamal Haasan enters his 60th year in the Indian movie industry, Box Office India looks back at some of his iconic performances. It would be indeed difficult to choose just a handful from the hundreds of films that he has done, but we have tried our best to pick films that were not just career defining for the actor, but also were landmark films for the film industry. This is definitely not an exhaustive list and is just the tip of the iceberg. So here goes:
Apporva Raaganagal (1975)
This K Balachander directorial was considered bold when it was released. It explored relationships beyond the trappings of age. The complexity of the love story is what makes this film a definite watch. This film also marked the entry of Rajinikanth in films.
16 Vayathinile (1977)
As Chappani, who is hopelessly in love with the beautiful Mayilu, Kamal brought a lot of pathos in this role. The film which starred Sridevi and Rajinikanth, set the ball rolling for many more films starring the three actors together.
Sigappu Rojakkal (1978)
In this film Kamal Haasan played a serial killer, a role not many an actor would have accepted to at a stage in their careers, especially when he was one of the top names in the business.
Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981)
The film marked his debut in Hindi. It was the remake of his Kannada film Maro Charita. The songs of the film became huge hits.
Sagara Sangamam (1983)
We discovered the dancer in Kamal Haasan in this film. His classical dance prowess and the emotional arc of his character made this a classic. Jaya Prada was cast opposite him in the film.
Moondram Pirai (1983)
The Sridevi-Kamal Haasan combination was the highlight of this film. Once again this was a tragic love story, a genre that he had mastered. The film was remade in Hindi with the same leads as Sadma. The film earned him his first National Award for Best Actor.
The love triangle featuring Rishi Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia and Kamal Haasan made this film an unforgettable romantic film. And of course the songs were superhits as well.
Swati Mutyam (1986)
In this Telugu movie, he starred opposite Radikaa. The film explored the story of a young widow who gets married to a man who is slightly mentally weak. It was a different love story and Kamal shone in it as well.
Pushpaka Vimana (1987)
At a time when punch dialogues were the norm, Kamal went and did a silent film. Also known as Pushpak, the film was a dark comedy which also starred Amala.
Mani Ratnam directed Kamal Haasan in this cult classic. His transformation from a young man to a don in Mumbai, is considered as one of Kamal’s best performances. The film earned the actor his second National Award for Best Actor.
Apoorva Sagodharargal (1989)
Kamal Haasan played a dwarf in this film. Of course there was a normal Kamal as well, but it was the dwarf version that proved that there is nothing that Kamal cannot do.
Michael Madana Kama Rajan (1990)
When you thought that Kamal Haasan playing a dwarf was the most that he could do, he played four characters in the same film; four brothers, each with a different accent, different profession and different look.
Thevar Magan (1992)
Kamal Haasan wrote this film as well, in which he starred with the actor he looked up to, Sivaji Ganesan. They played son and father. The film was later remade in Hindi as Virasat with Anil Kapoor in the lead.
The extent that a father can go to find and protect his family, especially his daughter, is what Mahanadi is all about. An emotional and dramatic film, it is known most for its shocking climax. He made the film in Hindi as well as Chachi 420 which marked his debut as director.
Kamal Haasan collaborated with director Shankar for the first time. He played father and son in this film. As Senapati, he captured the audience so much so that the sequel of the film which is expected to release sometime next year, is one of the most anticipated films of Haasan.
Avvai Shanmugi (1996)
And then he did it! Kamal played a woman in the film. Inspired from Mrs. Doubtfire, in the film he starred with Gemini Ganesan, the veteran actor in whose film he made his acting debut as a child actor.
Hey Ram (2000)
A fictional account behind the historical incident of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, the film offers an interesting peek into history and offers a different perspective. The film starred Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukerji. It was the first Tamil film Kamal directed.
Anbe Sivam (2003)
When this film released, it did not do well at the box office. But today it is considered a cult classic. The film also starred Madhavan. The chemistry between the two actors is the main highlight of this film.
Written, directed and produced by Kamal Haasan, the film tells the same story from three perspectives. The film is set against the backdrop of capital punishment.
Vettiayaadu Vilayaadu (2006)
Gautham Menon presented Kamal Haasan as a cop, a role he has played before. But this time Menon presented him in a very different look and style.
An espionage thriller, the film was directed, written and produced by Kamal Haasan. Shot in India, US and Canada. Set in Afghanistan and the USA against the backdrop of Osama Bin Laden and terrorism, the film had a controversial release.
Remake of the Mohanlal starrer Drishyam, Kamal proved that he is the king of accents. He made the film his own and proved that he was still a force to reckon with.
Box Office India wishes Kamal Haasan on reaching this amazing milestone in his film career.
Which are your favourite Kamal Haasan films? Share in the comments section below. And for more updates from the world of cinema, stay tuned to Box Office India.