There are only two celluloid demi-gods in Tamil Nadu, and one of them is Kamal Hassan. Rajnikanth is of course the other.
Kamal Haasan has been in the hot seat for some weeks now. The drama began three weeks before the Cannes Film Festival in May, when Indian newspapers and magazines ran stories, reportedly quoting him, about his latest movie, Viswaroopam, competing at the French Riviera’s 12-day annual cinematic event.
The story turned out to be incorrect. Viswaroopam was never in the race for Cannes. So I was told by the Festival.
Be that as it may, Viswaroopam (also in Hindi, and to be called Viswaroop) is now set to hit the screens soon, and Kamal is naturally on a high. What is more, he has even planned a sequel to the film, and one report says that a considerable portion of it had already been shot!
Seems like some kind of history being made with the shoot of a sequel in progress even before the first part has opened theatrically.
The actor said the other day that since there was scope for a sequel, he had opted for it instead of making the first part too long. “I have enough to tell in two full-length movies”, he chuckled.
Incidentally, Viswaroopam arrives after the hullabaloo caused by Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur in two parts with a combined running time of five hours and twenty minutes. The film premiered at the Director’s Fortnight, which runs parallel to the Cannes Festival. The first part opens on June 22. Kashyap said the sequel would come to the cinemas in November.
Kamal’s Viswaroopam – also written and co-produced by him – will probably open on June 29, and it stars apart from Hassan, Shekhar Kapoor, Rahul Bose, Nasser, Pooja Kumar, Andrea Jeremiah, Jaideep Ahlawat, Amrat Chakraborti and Zarina Wahab.
Viswaroopam is a nail-biting thriller peppered with romance, jealousy and suspicion. The plot centres on a marriage of convenience with the wife eventually trying to find an excuse to walk out of the relationship with her dancer-husband. She spies on him, and when the wires get crossed, “all hell breaks loose” as Kamal quipped.
“Viswaroopam is something that has been in my mind for nearly seven years. I hope it stays in my audiences’ mind for at least half that time,” the versatile actor averred.
Last seen in the romantic comedy, Manmathan Ambu, Hassan now slips into the thriller genre, and true to this, posters of a wounded man walking on an American street with a gun in hand have appeared all over.
Kamal, who will soon debut in a Hollywood work by Barrie M Osborne, producer of the Lord of the Rings, is sure to attract massive adulation from thousands of his fans, especially in southern India.
Often, the fans of both Rajnikanth and Kamal celebrate the opening of their movies by garlanding huge wooden cutouts of the actors with the freshest of flowers. The cutouts are even anointed with milk and honey.
After tens of films, neither Rajnikanth nor Kamal have lost their halo, and as Hassan said that like Ingmar Bergman, “I put in my best every time I make a movie… Who knows it may be my last”.
It may not be, of course, but Kamal is yet to play a role that is better than Velu in Mani Ratnam’s Nayagan, which came many, many years ago. And the two have not got together since then!
Gautaman Bhaskaran is a Chennai-India based author, columnist and film critic, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is an FMT columnist.