Kamal Haasan turns 67: meet the actor as a dancer, one of his dasavatharams
When it comes to famous Tamil megastars, Kamal Haasan, who just turned 67, is by far the most versatile force on the job today. “Experimentation” is his middle name, and the Chennai author has proven time and time again that cinema can be an obsessive quest for him, to the point of madness. by Kamal Haasan an actor, a playback singer, a producer, a director, a lyricist, a screenwriter, a politician, a poet, a father (to Shruti and Akshara Haasan, both actresses) and a neo-politician (search your thesaurus), according to his own Twitter biography. But from that Dasavathaaram – literally – the one role that seems to be most dear to Haasan’s heart is that of a dancer. Yes, he’s a classically trained dancer! How many other facets are there to beloved Ulaganayagan, as the Tamil public has affectionately dubbed him, that we do not yet know?
Even before Haasan started playing the adult role, he worked in Tamil films as an assistant choreographer, mostly under the tutelage of the legendary master Thangappan. The Nayagan star’s interest in dance goes back even further. When he was only 12 years old, when he accompanied his mother to a Kuchipudi performance, he came out after making the decision to become a dancer. Young Haasan quickly enrolled in dance lessons. Learning quickly, he got off to a good start but there was a slight problem. As he told film critic Baradwaj Rangan: “I totally neglected school. I was still in the dance class. The initial training in Kuchipudi, Bharatnatyam and Kathak helped the nationally awarded actor prepare for some of the important and influential roles he would play during his golden career, especially his famous dance moments in hits such as Sagara Sangamam, Ilamai Oonjal Aadukirathu, Enakkul Oruvan, Punnagai Mannan and many others.
His magical movements
Kamal Haasan in Sagara Sangamam
K. Viswanath’s Telugu masterpiece, Sagara Sangamam, released in 1983, has become particularly and inextricably linked to Kamal Haasandancer course. Arguably one of the greatest dance films, it’s the story of an alcoholic dancer (Haasan) who is just another lost potential. The end of this classic is probably as painfully tragic (if not more) as Haasan’s other key work, Sadma / Moondram Pirai. More than any other film, Sagara Sangamam (later successfully dubbed into Tamil and Malayalam) reflects Haasan’s passion for dance and how this art form has followed him closely since childhood, like a creative shadow. We admire Haasan’s Renaissance man-like Metaverse so much that his hoof heritage has become a bit underestimated. But when I think of today’s masquerade master as a dancer, many moments of his work spring to mind. Teach Revathi the art of dance and romance in Punnagai Mannan, match steps with the one and only Prabhu Deva in Kaathala Kaathala, his magic moves in the rain dance in Enakkul Oruvan (a remake of Karz, which itself was remodeled from The Reincarnation of Peter Fier) and its Kathak dance teacher performing an exquisite Unnai Kaanadhu Naan in Vishwaroopam. He even gave this most revered classical dance a comedic twist in Avvai Shanmugi, aka chhupdi chachi (Haasan in drag) as Hindi audiences know it from Chachi 420. Although nothing more than a Mrs. Doubtfire Chachi 420 scam (Haasan) remains one of his most beloved roles thanks to this chameleon-type shapeshifter’s ability to make you laugh. And when Chachi launches into a dance, she leaves her admirers in ecstasy (in particular a certain Durgaprasad Bhardwaj who does not stop drooling).
Kamal Haasan in Punnagai Mannan
Kamal Haasan matches steps with Prabhu Deva
Kamal Haasan’s performance at Vishwaroopam
Over the past four decades (even more if you consider his years as a child artist), Haasan has earned a reputation as a loyal all-rounder for whom nothing onscreen, it seems, is impossible. . He spares no effort to achieve the best – sometimes, although megalomania backfires. This man lives for the movies. He lives for the little details that other actors might overlook. For example, he apparently learned the mridangam for Apoorva Raagangal from his guru K Balachander, a radical film about the intricacies of human relationships that first brought him (as well as a longtime friend and rival to the screen Rajinikanth) to public attention in 1975 as a goofy youngster in love with an older woman. It acts like a dream. He speaks like a pro (a political career is therefore in preparation). He sings, a talent that he once again honed during his first training. Yet dancing is one aspect of her life that doesn’t get a lot of attention. Perhaps now is the time for audiences beyond Kollywood to revisit their work.
And with that, can we ask the comedy godfather to come out onto the pitch and show us some killer moves?