On eve of 'Indian 2' release, audiobook reveals new facets of Kamal's milestone films


by IANS |

 July  (IANS) On the eve of Kamal Haasan's much-anticipated appearance in Shankar's 'Indian 2', which follows the mega star delivering successive blockbuster hits -- 'Kalki 2898 AD' this year and crime thriller 'Vikram' in 2022 -- Audible has announced the release of a new audiobook titled 'Kamal Haasan: A Cinematic Journey'. Director-turned-educationist K. Hariharan explores Kamal Haasan's evolution across 50-plus films, showcasing his ability to challenge stereotypes and push boundaries. Here are some lesser-known facts from the screen legend's incredible journey from the audiobook: 1. When veteran producer L.V. Prasad screened 'Ek Duje Ke Liye' for the first time, it was a disaster. Kamal Haasan bridged the north-south divide in India and made inroads into the Hindi film industry with 'Ek Duuje Ke Liye' (1981), which was what we would now call a pan-India film. Despite the initial setbacks and sceptical distributors in Mumbai, the film eventually was greeted with packed cinemas and emotional reactions. The audience response took the veteran producer L.V. Prasad by complete surprise. In the words of Hariharan, "Prasad realised that everyone had seen a wholesome tragedy after a long time on the Hindi screen and there was no difference in feelings between the Tamil and Hindi audiences ... he immediately called his son to order another 40 prints to be released all over India the following Friday." The film went on to celebrate 50 weeks in the theatres (a golden jubilee in the terminology that was current then) and the rest is history. 2. Shah Rukh Khan did not charge a paisa for his role in 'Hey Ram'. Kamal Haasan's journey with 'Hey Ram' (2000) began with an idea akin to a crime thriller, but he soon realised that empathising with Gandhi's assassin, Nathuram Godse, would be too reactionary. "I changed it around completely and made the story get some respect for the protagonist. Undoubtedly, the film got me a lot of respect, but it flopped," Kamal Haasan tells Hariharan. Shah Rukh Khan, however, "was so impressed by the vision of the film that he refused to charge a penny for his performance as Amjad, instead deeming it an honour to get an opportunity to work with a legend like Kamal." 3. Silent comedy 'Pushpak' was certified by the Censor Board multiple times in the same year in all Indian languages. Inspired by the legacy of Charlie Chaplin, Kamal Haasan's 'Pushpak' (1987) redefined silent comedy for Indian audiences. In the audiobook, Hariharan shares that the film's release strategy was quite complex because of the absence of dialogue. "The rule says that a talkie has to be in a certain language," explains Hariharan. "In order to release this wordless film all over India, it was certified the same year by the Censor Board multiple times, in all Indian languages, with titles being changed and new censor certificates issued in all languages!" 4. 'Sathya' almost got shelved because of Kamal Haasan’s financial difficulties. The 1988 movie 'Sathya' was a bold move as it was the remake of the 1985 Bollywood hit 'Arjun', scripted by Javed Akhtar. Suresh Krishnaa was the director of the Tamil film and Kamal's production house was helming the project. Kamal demonstrated his remarkable acting prowess, says Hariharan, but the film's production faced a number of challenges. "Kamal’s second production, a big-budget sci-fi venture titled 'Vikram' suffered on both critical and commercial fronts. His company had to comfort the distributors who had shouldered the risk of such an ambitious film," writes Hariharan. But the film did well on all counts. With a stellar musical score by Ilaiyaraaja and Kamal's relentless dedication, 'Sathya' became a defining film resonating deeply with audiences. --IANS srb/

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