Monday, October 18, 2010

Kamal Hassan: Self Obssessed?

Women have very strong opinions. Especially, the erudite.

Here is this lady at office, fanatically devoted to Rajinikanth, who commented that Kamal is narcissistic (not the exact words). She accused him of occupying every frame in the movies that he acts. In particular, she referred to Dasavatharam. It is very difficult to refute this statement.

But after spending a little time over this accusation of hers, I realized that Indian film industry is all about the male actor. Make no mistake, I mean the lead male actor. So what's wrong in Kamal hogging the screen, I thought? Then I began to think more and I realized that contrary to the popular opinion held by anti-Kamal group, the legend is probably the only actor of that stature to share the screen with various actors. Unlike movies of Rajini or any other actor for that matter, Kamal's movies provide ample space for his co-actors, in fact, quite often they steal the thunder.

  • Sathi Leelavathi: The movie about extra-marital affair was a super duper hit. If you remember, the lead in the movie is not even another male actor but it is Kalpana, not a typical heroine material, if I may say so. But what was path breaking was that Kamal paired with Kovai Sarala, a comedian! I remember it caused a bit of an uproar that Kamal. Can any other actor even think about it?
  • Magalir Mattum: Like the previous movie, Magalir Mattum was also his home production. The movie is about sexual harassment in office set up. Three women (Revathy, Urvashi and Rohini) gang-up against their conniving boss (played by Nasser). Kamal does make an appearance in the movie but only for a brief period and that too towards the end. It was certainly the female trio and Nasser who carry the movie through.
  • Kurudi Punnal: A remake of Govind Nihlani's Drohkaal, the movie was known for Arjun and Nasser's performance. In fact, Gowthami is still remembered for a particular scene where she persuades a naxal to not harass Arjun's daughter by 'offering herself'. Was numbed. Kamal, if you think about it, took a rather weaker role for himself. A character that compromises.
  • Tenali: This movie is remembered as much for Kamal's Sri Lankan Tamil as for Jairam who plays the role of a hassled doctor.
  • Anbey Sivam: This is certainly a Kamal movie but honestly I think there was enough meat from Nasser and Madhavan. 
  • Virumandi has Pasupathi and Abhirami dazzle. Madhavan is the lead in Kamal's home production - Nala Damayanthi. And this is not a recent phenomenon. Ages ago, Sathyaraj was the protagonist in Kadamai Kanniyam Kattupadu, a Rajkamal productions.
And those listed above is not the comprehensive list of movies where Kamal shared the screen equally with other actors, big or small. Further, women always have a great opportunity to perform in his movies. If you would remember Revathy in Devar Magan.

I believe that Kamal has a penchant for talent. He has always promoted those who have potential. I think he is a strong believer in casting for the role.

During schoold days, my friend Manoj made a comment that hurt me quite a bit. He said that women who act in Kamal's movies have a shorter life span on the screen, meaning they flop after that. For a long time, I believed it. But now I realize that there is a strong reason for it. Most heroes have female leads who are rather young and novice in the field of acting. They are chosen for the glamour quotient. On the other hand, Kamal's heroines are high up in their learning curve. High on acting prowess and less on baby doll quotient. Manoj, what do you have to say now? :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Aandhi, A Turmoil

I have already watched Avishkaar (starring Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore) and Anubhav (starring Sanjeev Kumar and Tanuja). And I wondered how these 70s films were so ahead of time. They dealt with complex husband-wife relationships. They are such mature films that they put the contemporary Hindi films to shame by their depth.

Aandhi is a film by Gulzar starring Sanjeev Kumar and Suchitra Sen. Supposed to be 'inspired' by Indira Gandhi's married life, the film is about the strain in relationship due to an ambitious wife and a man caught up in the traditional old world life. Aarti is daughter of a business man who wants the daughter to achieve something in life. Join politics, precisely, so that it would help him in business. But she falls in love and gets married to JK, a hotel manager.

But a desire to enter politics, fueled by father, leads to a strain in her married life. JK prefers his wife to be at home, do the chores and take care of the kid. Aarti decides not to be a typical housewife and moves out.

9 years thence, fate brings them together when Aarti comes to the town for an election campaign and stays at the hotel headed by JK. How they come together represents the change in Indian society. Emancipation of women and an acknowledgement by men that wife is not necessarily for the house.

You will love each and every song. They will haunt you for long time. Sanjeev Kumar is fantastic in the role and plays it with such elan, persona dignified.

I think the Indian society and marraige has long moved from the state that is portrayed in the movie, but still it has a lot of meaning even in the changed circumstances. Must watch.

On a side note, the one thing common to Aandhi and Anubhav is AK Hangal. He plays to servant in both the movies and has almost very similar dialogue. Watch for it.