The one actor, film maker I adore is Kamal Hassan. I don’t think anybody can be compared or match his acting prowess for years to come. He is unique, a número uno and was born to act. He is celebrating his 50th year in Tamil cinema. He entered in to the hearts of Tamil movie goers as a small child singing “Ammavum Neeye” on August 12, 50 years back.
In his Golden jubilee year, I am revisiting his 10 best roles over these 50 years. The 10 best roles doesn’t mean that these are his 10 best movies but these roles brought out the different faces of this versatile actor.
10. Prasanna of Aboorva Ragangal
Prasanna was the personification of youth of the 70s. At the brink of political revolution in the country, Prasanna is the guy who can’t accept even small atrocities in the society, he even injures a guy who doesn’t respect the national anthem. The fiery youth gets tamed when he falls in love with a woman elder than him. The character is complex, confused and contradictory.K Balachander always has the best for Kamal and he was perfect. The confusion sticks on to you too when you watch him on the screen. The emotions of anger to his father, love towards Bhairavi, jealousy towards Bhairavi’s Husband are perfectly portrayed.
9. Senapathy aka Indian Thatha of Indian
Senapathy, 70 year an INA veteran is a nationalist and can’t stand corruption prevailing in the country. He loses his daughter for corruption and starts to weed out all the corrupted officials by murdering them through the help of an ancient martial act technique of Varmam. He finally ends up killing his own son because he was corrupt too.
Can a movie be taken with a 70 Year old man in the lead role? Shankar thought so, so did Kamal. Although make up helped him, it was Kamal’s show all the way. The drooping shoulders, a slight bend in the back to authenticate the age, the voice, actions and above all the style in the way he combs his strands of hair in the forehead- awesome
8. Ragu of Raja Paarvai
I dunno which actor would take risk of acting as a blind man in his 100th movie. Kamal was in his usual self of difference. Ragu is a blind man, talented violinist who brims with self-confidence and hates pity. A realist who falls in love with a Christian Girl. I don’t think some one can portray blind man’s romance better..this movie also had another facet of the man – he wrote the screenplay for the movie.
7. Balram Naidu and Fletcher of Dasavatharam
Dasavatharam was a movie where you can relish 10 different characterizations of the same man. Balram Naidu arguably will become one of funniest characters in the whole of Tamil Cinema in par with Tharumi of Thiruvilayadal. Fletcher was a surprise for me and I think only few villains you will really love – Fletcher will be one. The strength of both the characters is the dialogue delivery – be it the American accent of Fletcher (chi -dam-bram) and the Telegu accent of Balram naidu (neeru telega) – fantabulous. “Neeru terrific scientista illa scientific terrorista”
6. Guna of Guna
Guna is a confused character – you can’t categorize him in to mentally unstable person because he very well knows what he is doing. He is not a violent Psycho type character because he attacks only those people who attack his loved ones (even the small bird he pets) .. I would say he is a innocent schizophrenic…
The blind love he has on abirami is unmatchable… I dunno how Kamal would have understood such a complex character and he plays it with so much panache that you will fall in love with Guna, leave alone the heroine. I would rate this movie on par with any Takeshi Kitano’s or Kim Ki Duk’s
5. Avvai Shanmughi of Avvai Shanmughi
I admit it was an inspiration from Robin Williams but there is an unknown inspiration too – TK Shanmugam who does Avvaiyar roles in Tamil Dramas of yesteryear. Kamal started his acting life in this troupe and so he made a tribute by naming the movie on his guru.
Ok this character is an absolute master piece, the gait, the Brahmin accent, the mannerisms like adjusting the saree – perfect. You can’t just stop admiring Shanmughi Mami.
4. Seenu of Moondram Pirai
Seenu is a very normal next door guy who you would love to be with every other day. He saves a mentally unstable girl from a prostitution place, falls in love with her, cares for her and cures her… And she at the end doesn’t know who he is after getting cured and leaves him in distress.
From the start to the final scene, you will see Sri Devi scoring boundaries in each and every scene and in the final scene Kamal just scores a sixer every minute.. The depiction of emotions are so strong that you will end up feeling that Sri Devi could have been in the old state rather getting cured. This movie fetched the national award for both the leads.
3. Dileep of Sigappu Rojakkal
An anti-hero who is haunted by the child hood wounds created by a host of women, starts avenging on women by cheating and killing them. For once, he finds a good woman but ends up in a mental asylum with unrequited love. This movie came in 1978 and created a furor in the cinema world because of the plot and the making. Dileep another complex character was wonderfully portrayed by Kamal and a character you can neither sympathize nor get angry on his actions.
2. Appu of Aboorva Sagotharargal
Although I rate this as number 2, this was, is and will be my most favorite character of Kamal’s movies simply because of the heroism of the character even though he is short than normal. Normal people will never realize that differently able people also have normal emotions – the scene after his love breaks – Kamal shows why he is rated as one of the brilliant actors. The technical brilliance and dwarf like acting awes you every moment
1. Velu Nayakkar of Nayagan
This is the mother of all characters. Velu Nayakar is about a a true life do-gooder who smuggled to help people. Kind of an biographical of a person. Although inspired by God Father, there was one basic difference between them, God Father never shows his emotions whereas Velu Nayakkar does. Kamal lived as Velu Nayakkar. A national award and the one of the two Indian movies to be rated in 100 best movies of the Millennium by the Time Magazine. Should I say more?
There can be lot other roles which you may think the best of Kamal. This is my list and if you like to add more…Just put it in the comments section. One role which lost by whisker to my list was Nalla of Anbe Sivam.