Superstar Rajinikanth recently did a rare one-on-one television interview for his upcoming film 2.0. In an hour-long discussion, the actor reminisced about his relationship with onscreen rival-turned-political opponent Kamal Haasan.
“When I entered the film industry in the 70s, Kamal was a superstar. He was such a craze among young boys and girls. Not just in Tamil Nadu, he was popular in Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh,” he said. The actor even recalled that he was starstruck when he got an opportunity to travel with Kamal in the same car at a time when the 2.0 actor was struggling.
The endearing friendship between Kamal and Rajinikanth has been awe-inspiring. “I can confidently say, in the past generation, there were no friends like Rajini and I,” Kamal had said in 2009 during an event that celebrated his 50 years in the film industry. “Rajini is an exemplary friend.”
Kamal said these words as he was overwhelmed by Rajinikanth’s humility while he was heaping praises on the former. But that was not the first time. Rajini has never missed an opportunity to expresses his admiration for Kamal. The Kaala star credits Kamal for helping him land major roles in films made by leading directors during the early days of his career.
It remains to be seen whether, the friendship that thrived in spite of decades of competition between them in the film industry, will survive when they engage each other in the political arena.
On Kamal’s 64th birthday, we look back at five nicest things Rajinikanth said about the Ulaganayagan:
1) “Kamal was such a craze across the country when I began my acting career. I was in awe of him. After a shooting, Kamal was asked to take me along with him in his car. And I pinched myself as I could not believe that I was sitting next to him. I have been such admirer of Kamal. Due to God’s grace and a good director, I became successful. But it will be foolishness to think that I overtook him,” said Rajinikanth in an interview with Zee Tamil.
2) “The present generation may not know how big a star was Kamal in 1975. He was a bigger star in 1975 than he is today,” Rajinikanth had said during the celebration of Kamal’s 50 years film journey. “If Kamal had told the filmmakers to not put me in his films, they would have listened to him. Kamal himself recommended me for Ilamai Oonjal Aadukirathu. And when I became a well-known actor, Kamal told me to do solo films to take my career to next level. He said otherwise I can never come up in my career. I have listened to everything he had said. And after I was establised as a big hero, he recommended me to big directors and producers that he worked with. I don’t know how to thank him for everything he has done for me,” he added.
3) “Kamal is not an ordinary artiste. He is a great artiste who has taken Tamil cinema to the global level,” Rajinikanth had written in a letter to the members of Muslim organizations that were protesting against the release of Kamal’s controversial film Vishwaroopam.
4) “Mammootty, Mohanlal, Venkatesh, Chiranjeevi, Amitabh Bachchan, Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor were all surprised looking at me. Everyone’s amazed by the question that how did I succeed as an actor in the industry, which has Kamal Haasan? It’s because I grew as an actor watching Kamal’s acting. Due to God’s grace, I was able to watch Kamal so closely. I went out for a smoke during the shooting of Avargal (1977). KB sir (K Balachander) got angry and called for me. He told me to watch Kamal’s acting so that I can improve my acting. And after that I never left the set when Kamal was performing,” Rajinikanth had recalled at 50 years of Kamal event.
5) “After watching the tribute video of my big brother in the film industry (Kamal Haasan), I became an even bigger fan of him. I did 7 or 8 films with him during the early days of my career. And this video took me back to the old times. Kamal enjoyed doing all these things, while I had a very difficult time doing everything I did,” Rajinikanth said while speaking at an event that celebrated 100 years of Indian cinema.
“Kamal is a genius of our times. We can’t see any other actor in our lifetime, who can make films like Dasavathaaram or Apoorva Sagodharargal. Kamal is a living inspiration for us.”