One of the most popular and finest actors of our generation made his film debut when he was just three-and-a-half-year-old. In Kalathur Kannamma, Kamal Haasan appeared on the big screen as a child actor along with Tamil film legends Savitri and Gemini Ganesan. Since then that child has come a long way and has scaled new heights with his every step in the film industry. The 100 years of Indian cinema won’t be the same without 50 years of Kamal Haasan’s contribution to it.
Kamal marks his 62nd birthday today under the shadow of the breakup with his longtime live-in partner Gautami. His career and life have been subjected to media scrutiny for several decades now. You may think you know everything about this multi-faceted film artist but here are eight lesser-known facts about Kamal.
1) Kamal showed all signs of becoming a great actor in childhood itself. His performance in 1959 film Kalathur Kannamma was recognised with the President’s Gold medal and since then the actor has won several prestigious accolades both nationally and internationally.
2) Before Kamal became a dominating figure in the Indian film industry, he established himself as a promising hero in Malayalam films. He has over 200 film titles to his credit, of which 40 are Malayalam films. In other words, Malayalam filmmakers and the audience should be credited for cementing his position as an actor during the early days of his career.
3) Legendary director KB Balachander deserves a lion’s share in propelling Kamal to a star status. It is only fair to say that without the schooling that Kamal received from KB while working with the director in 36 films, he wouldn’t be where he is today. And Kamal knows it. Kamal once worked as a background actor in one of KB’s films while he was at the peak of his acting career.
4) Kamal is notoriously popular for taking risks in making films. Most of his experimental efforts were either underappreciated or rendered failures, but that never deterred him from exploring new territories. He became a producer with his 1981 film Raja Paarvai, which also marked his 100th film. He played a blind musician in this film. How often we get to see a leading hero takes a risk of playing such a role in his 100th film? The film was appreciated by critics but failed at the box office. It is said that it took eight years for Kamal to recover from the financial loss he incurred due to the film.
5) Kamal was detained at the Toronto airport in 2002 as his name apparently sounds very Islamic. He was in Canada to shoot for his film Panchathanthiram. And he was stopped from boarding a flight to Los Angeles by customs officers, who put him through a humiliating experience and interrogated him for about half an hour.
6) Kamal has been honoured with numerous prestigious awards for his performance and his contribution to the Indian film industry. But he holds the distinction of being the only actor to have won a Best Actor award and also to receive a nomination for Best Actor in Supporting Role for the same film, 1985 film Saagar, at the Filmfare Awards.
7) During his early days in the industry, superstar Rajinikanth appeared in minor roles and played second lead in Kamal’s films. After 1979 film Ninaithale Inikkum, Kamal decided not to work together with Rajinikanth in films so that he gets his own solo films.
8) Kamal is a big fan of Jackie Chan. And the world-renowned martial artist and actor had flown down to Chennai in 2008 to attend the audio release function of Kamal’s Dasavatharam. At the event, Kamal said that he had suffered 32 fractures while trying to imitate Jackie Chan’s stunts.