Thursday, July 29, 2010

Is Kamal Hassan An Atheist Iyengar?

Those who have read a previous post of mine know, by now, that I am a Kamal fan.

It is quite well know that he is an atheist. For those who have seen Anbey Sivam, which is probably Kamal's best movie, would have noticed this. There is one particular scene where Kamal revisits the place where the accident, which changes his life, takes place. Because he is the only one who survives in the accident, people gather and take 'aarthi'. Kamal rubs away the 'tilak' as soon as it is applied.

But over the last few months, since the launch of Dasavathaaram to be exact, a thought has been recurring in my mind. I have been forced to wonder whether Kamal is in fact an atheist or is he making it up? Or he is an atheist but has not been able to break the Iyengar upbringing? Or maybe I have become too cynical. Now, I do understand that this wondering of mine is of no use to the society and it is unwanted in a world which already has enough complexities. Still, let me make my case.

In Dasavathaaram, one of the roles that Kamal Hassan dons is of Rangarajan Nambi, a staunch Iyengar (Vaishnavite Brahmins), in Chidambaram (near) Tanjore ruled by Kulothunga Chola II, a fanatic Saivite. Kulothunga intends to get rid of Vishnu's idol from the Big Temple. Angered by Rangarajan's resistance, the King gets him tied to Vishnu's idol and drowns him in the Bay of Bengal. A lot of cruelty is committed upon him as he is taken to the sea.

I cannot ascertain the historical veracity of this event. It could have happened or it may be Kamal's figment of imagination, he is one of the story writers. Do watch the movie, I loved it.

Now after watching the movie, it occurred to me that Kamal Hassan, despite his claims of being an atheist, seems to be using a lot of God in his movies. And then I mulled over this thought, it occurred to me that Kamal may actually be still an Iyengar at heart. And consciously or otherwise, he seems to demean Saivites.

Another movie of Kamal Hassan, which is one of my all time favourite comedy flick, is Kadhala Kadhala. Now, an important role in this movie is played by MS Viswanathan, legendary Music Director. In the movie he is a Lord Murugan devotee. The scenes where he dreams about Murugan are funny, not glorifying. In fact, there is a song with Prabhu Deva and Kamal as Lord Murugan. Lord Murugan is a Saivite God. In fact, He is the younger son of Lord Siva himself. Blimey!

No, it doesn't stop there. Pammal K Sambandam, the movie based on which the super sexy but extraordinary flop Kambhakth Ishq was made. This time direct dig on Lord Siva. In the movie, Kamal plays the role of a stunt master and a side actor. In a particular scene, he dons the role of Lord Siva. Do watch it, you may get my point.

Then coming back to Anbey Sivam, again, the negative role played by Nasser is of a staunch Saivite. But then Kamal himself plays the role of a Saivite with a name Nalla Sivam. So it's not the best example.

All these make me seriously doubt Kamal's claims. But after a point, my wondering became introspection. I am an Iyer, Saivite Brahmin. Now, agnostic tending to atheism. I think I have already jumped to the other side of the wall! But then, despite all the disbelief, I still, jokingly or otherwise, say that I am an Iyer. I would be lying if I say that I don't feel proud about being one. Or for that matter, I do feel Hindu, deep down. No, I am not the Right-Wing, types! The point I am trying to make is that despite claiming to be an atheist, I haven't broken away from religious shackles, yet. But then India is a religious country. Irrespective of which religion, we are brought up with a strong grounding in religion.

So, it can be overlooked that Kamal cannot do away with what he has imbibed in his DNA. But then is he actually taking a dig at Shiva and glorifying Vishnu? Could it be Mohan 'Crazy' Rangachari, who was the script and dialogue writer for Kadhala Kadhala and Pammal K Sambandham, behind this portrayal? Oh God, he also wrote the story of Dasavathaaram along with Kamal!

Blimey, Kamal, please, prove me wrong!


Anonymous said...

I like his movies tats it, not more than that. U r though is; he’s still following Vaishnava & targeting Saiva, in the name of atheist in all movies. By my though is he’s supporting nastiga in all movie’s by creating scene supported to attack (direct/in-direct) to aastika people’s. Which unfortunately Saiva is as u said (may be they are famous in TN).
e.g.: take his entire recent movie, the negative though/ negative peoples will be Aastika; he will be good nastika? He creates scene in each movie in this concepts only.
Manmadhan Ambu – Maddy will be shown in negative thoughts & controversies also (1, about the song).( 2, dialogue – kaavi colour shirt; he say may be a problem of religion).
Unnaipol oruvan – while saying reason to mohanlal. He will say noo…krsna came to help the girl…(not saive)
Dasavtharam – as u said + 2nd half he will always have quarrel with asin which is a clear Aastika/nastika.
Anbe sivan / VR.MBBS/ Kadhal KAdhal …etc etc …….. Everything will have same scenarios.
I think he’s following Dravidian politics style to win his movie (after continues flops), since aastika peoples will be only 3% of pop….which won’t affect his profits ………..

Tan Q (AK)

Anonymous said...

please dont be proud to be an iyer.. there is nothing to be proud of.

Anonymous said...

i am a proud iyer.. i beleive kamal is a staunch vaishnavaite.. they do understand his language.. he is cheating all

Anonymous said...

Well.. he is a rationalist and an atheist in his personal life. See his interviews and his speeches to clarify your doubt and your views.
It is undoubtedly true to say that he is a fantastic actor and writer, and the points you wrote are a part of his acting and writing skills. For instance the character Sivam wipes the tilak because the character is a communist and in the movie Virumandi you can see the character wear the tilak throughout the movie because the character is a theist. I would say that it's all a part of his acting and observation skills.

Anonymous said...

I am not a Psychiatrist,just an individual who knows nothing about the sciences but I analyzed two different events. Periyar had transformed from theist to atheist after the Kasi Incident. He was pushed out of the Choultry after it was found that he was not a Brahmin. He was denied food when he was hungry. Kamalhassan has mentioned in one of the interviews that as a child he was given strict punishment akin in the movie Veyyil. These two incidents bring to me one thought. These individuals must have on some level questioned the existence of God and why He has not come down to save them in their time of grief. It is only natural that as a kid or a teenager , you do not fully understand the concept of God , but constantly hear parents talking about the powers of God and how he has taken different avatars to save people at times of need. These deep thoughts could have impulsed them to question God and his divine powers. Their personal anguish could have made them to change paths and turn to atheism. I could be wrong but what do I know , I am not a doctor...

Anonymous said...

Well both Iyers and Iyengars are dravadians and are infact Asurs. Both of them are nakli brahmins. Shiva and Vishnu are all part of Krishna. All Vedas are inferior to Bhagwat Puran and Bhagwat Gita. In Gita Krishna had said all these demigods are part of himself . So much for Iyers (black) and Iyengars (Brown to fair) LOL

Anonymous said...

There is nothing to be proud of my friend! Caste system has ruined Indians and India's growth for thousands of years!!Someone talked about personal issues that made them that case,we wouldn't have even had Gandhi...a great leader!! Kamal is fake...he tries to show that he is an atheist but I can say for sure that he is an undercover theist ;) Above all non-brahmins like him because of his 'i'm not a fanatic -brahmin' kinda projection about himself!! Long live Indians!! btw,whey can't we all try to bring reforms in Hinduism that there's no caste system!!this will help for sure!!Can all the FC guys stop giving caste name in schools!!??? - Bloorockz

Anonymous said...

Well said... 100% true.

Periyar following DK is a semi-atheist, which is atheist only for Hindu gods. He is semi-periyar-atheist, which is atheist only for Saivas and conditionally favors Vaisyas

This will be expected in his next movie Viswaroopam where he is expected to justify a vaisya and a musl_m

yash said...

vaishnavaite or atheist, whatever he may be, he is a good actor. Better stop pointing others' faults. No one is perfect and so, we need to think more about changing ourselves and less about others. Any person who is in such a great position cannot be assumed to be thinking much about religion.