19 of Kamal Haasan’s most memorable roles
The legendary Kamal Haasan has devoted his life to pushing the boundaries in cinema. We unspool to some of his most iconic roles of the past which are testimony to his awesome talent and versatility:
1. Apoorva Ragangal
Kamal played an angry young man attracted to an older woman in this social drama by K. Balachander which was daring for its time. He was able to portray the rashness of youth and his passion for a woman in the most convincing way in this film.
2. 16 Vayathinile
In this 1977 film which marked Bharathiraja’s directorial debut, Kamal established his credentials as a top class actor. He was willing to play a village simpleton, Chappani, who is secretly in love with the pretty Mayilu, played by Sridevi.
3. Sigappu Rojakkal
This psychological thriller set the trend for dark films. Kamal played a successful businessman with a dark side who preys and murders innocent women.
4. Varumayin Niram Sivappu
This realistic film about the frustrations of an entire generation of educated, unemployed youth saw Kamal play Rangan, a young man unable to come to terms with the ways of the world. Angry and disillusioned for most of the film, he showed glimpses of a gentle side in the tender romance sequences with Devi, played by Sridevi.
5. Raaja Paarvai
It may have left the box-office cold, but there was no missing Kamal’s superb performance as a visually impaired violinist in this film. Raaja Parvai was his 100th film and he wrote the script for it as well.
6. Moondram Pirai
His role as a school teacher who cares for a woman suffering from retrograde amnesia and loses her after he nurses her back to normalcy won Kamal Haasan a best actor award.
7. Punnagai Mannan
The tragic lover is a role that Kamal played with ease through several of his films. In this one, besides Sethu, the heart-broken protagonist, he also played Charlie Chellappa, paying tribute to one of his cinema idols, Charlie Chaplin.
This saga by Mani Ratnam was listed by Time magazine among the ‘All-Time 100 Best Films’ and its nayagan was Kamal Haasan. From an innocent young man who grows up in the slums of Mumbai to a man who takes over its underworld and lives to see the consequences of his violent ways, his performance was one of the best Indian cinema has seen.
9. Salangai Oli
Kamal danced, drank and danced his way through this film, a beautiful story of unrequited love. The sequence in which he demonstrates a dance sequence to a newbie dancer, played by Shailaja, is a scene that can be watched over and over again.
10. Apoorva Sagotharargal
Who but Kamal would play a circus dwarf with funny teeth so convincingly! Also, the film that went on to become a blockbuster didn’t use CGI; just a whole lot of dedication from its lead actor.
Kamal played a mentally challenged person in the film which was a fore-runner to those that came later and explored a similar theme. Shorn of glamour, vulnerable and obsessive, this role, again, was Kamal the actor in supreme command.
12. Thevar Magan
The urban boy becomes a village chief, stepping into his father’s shoes, and has to give up the woman he’s in love with in the process. Whether it was his look, his understated emotion or his action, Thevar Magan was a high point in Kamal’s filmography.
13. Avvai Shanmughi
Sure, it was inspired by Robin Williams’ Mrs Doubtfire. Still, who but Kamal could have pulled off playing a Tamil maami, nine-yard saree and all?
14. Hey Ram
In this period film, also written and directed by Kamal Haasan, he played a man who experiences the fiercest religious hatred and his redemption thereafter.
15. Pammal K Sambandam
Which other actor with a superstar status would readily play a Kollywood stuntman, wearing mismatched clothes and lots of jewellery. Spouting the Chennai lingo he’s a master of, Kamal was brilliant in this full-length comedy.
16. Anbe Sivam
In this vastly underrated film Kamal who, wrote the story, explored pet themes of atheism and communism. He was superb as the angry young labour leader and later as the man with a scarred face, broken teeth and a limp, espousing the principle of ‘Anbe Sivam’.
Kamal wrote and directed this film that explores the idea of the death sentence. It was a grim tale and the actor was at his very best in it. He even trained under a professional bull tamer in Alanganallur in Tamil Nadu for the ‘jallikattu’ scenes in the film.
The actor par excellence played not one, two or three but ten roles in the film – each distinct and hugely entertaining. Our favourite is the government officer Balram Naidu and his Telugu-tinged Tamil accent.
19. Unnaipol Oruvan
Kamal played the ordinary man in this remake of A Wednesday. He was understated and fabulous, with Mohanlal for company.
Must-watch movies of Mohanlal
Kollywood cafe: Southern superstars served hot on your plate!
Ilayaraja: Top 20 songs from the original Mozart of Madras
OMG-inducing, share-compelling, like-attracting, clutter-breaking, thought-provoking, myth-busting content from the country’s leading content curators. read on...