Birth: 07-11-1954, Paramakudi, Chennai, India
Kamal Haasan (born 7 November 1954) is an Indian film actor, screenwriter, director, playback singer, choreographer and lyricist who works primarily in the Tamil film industry. Haasan has won several Indian film awards (including four National Film Awards and a number of Filmfare Awards), and has starred in the greatest number of films submitted by India for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Haasan's production company, Rajkamal International, has produced several of his films.
After several projects as a child, Haasan's breakthrough as a lead actor came in the 1975 drama Apoorva Raagangal, in which he played a rebellious youth in love with an older woman. He won his first National Film Award for his portrayal of a guileless schoolteacher who cares for a childlike amnesiac in Moondram Pirai. Haasan was noted for his performance in Mani Ratnam's Godfatheresque Tamil film Nayagan (1987), rated by Time magazine as one of the best films in cinema history. Since then he has appeared in a number of films including his own productions, Hey Ram and Virumaandi, and Dasavathaaram (in which he played ten different parts). In 2009, he completed 50 years in Indian cinema.
Haasan was born in 1954 into a Tamil Brahmin family in Paramakudi (now a part of Ramanathapuram district), Tamil Nadu. His father, D. Srinivasan (a lawyer), was a freedom fighter. Kamal is the youngest child in his family; his brothers Charuhasan (b. 1930) and Chandrahasan (b. 1936) are also lawyers, and Charuhasan became an actor during the 1980s. Haasan's sister, Nalini (b. 1946), is a classical dancer. He received his primary education in Paramakudi, moving to Madras (now Chennai) as his brothers pursued their higher education. Haasan continued his education in Santhome, Madras; attracted by film and the fine arts, he was encouraged by his father. When a physician friend of Haasan's mother visited Avichi Meiyappa Chettiar (AVM) to treat his wife, she brought Haasan with her. Impressed by Haasan's demeanor, M. Saravanan (AVM's son) recommended him for their upcoming production Kalathur Kannamma (replacing Baby Daisy Rani, who AVM thought was overexposed)
Haasan won the President's Gold Medal – Rashtrapathi Award for his performance in Kalathur Kannamma at age four, and starred in five more films as a child. He debuted in the Malayalam film industry in Kannum Karalum (1962). With his father's encouragement Haasan joined a repertory company (T. K. S. Nataka Sabha) headed by T. K. Shanmugam, continuing his education at the Hindu Higher Secondary School in Triplicane. His time with the theatre company shaped Haasan's craft, and kindled his interest in makeup.
After a seven-year hiatus from films Haasan returned to the industry as a crew member, playing a few supporting roles. His first role as an adult was in the 1970 film Maanavan, where he appeared in a dance sequence. Haasan also had a supporting role in Annai Velankani (where he was assistant director), and appeared in K. Balachander's 1973 film Arangetram. He played the antagonist in Sollathaan Ninaikkiren and Gumasthavin Magal. Haasan's first serious role was in K. Balachander's Aval Oru Thodar Kathai (1974). His last supporting role was in Naan Avan Illai, also in 1974. Haasan's second Malayalam film was 1974's Kanyakumari, for which he won his first regional Filmfare Award. Other Malayalam films were Kanyakumari and Raasaleela. He played the lead in the Tamil film Apoorva Raagangal, directed by K. Balachander (for which he won his first Filmfare Award in Tamil). It's plot involved a young man in love with an older woman, and the film won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil. Haasan learned to play the mridangam for his role.
This period saw Haasan's continued collaboration with K. Balachander, when he appeared in many of the director's socially-themed films. In 1976, Balachander cast him as a womaniser in Manmadha Leelai; this was followed by Oru Oodhappu Kan Simittugiradhu, which won him his second consecutive Regional Filmfare (Tamil) Best Actor Award. Haasan later appeared in the Balachander drama Moondru Mudichu. Avargal (1977) concerned the women's movement; for this role, he learned ventriloquism. The film was remade in Telugu as Idi Katha Kaadu (1979), with Haasan reprising his role. 16 Vayathinile, in which he played a village bumpkin, won him a third consecutive Best Actor award. In 1977 Haasan starred in his first Kannada film, Kokila, the directorial debut of friend and mentor Balu Mahendra. That year he also appeared in a Bengali film, Kabita, a remake of the Tamil film Aval Oru Thodar Kathai. In 1978 Haasan made his Telugu film debut with a lead role in the cross-cultural romantic film, Maro Charithra, directed by Balachander. His fourth consecutive Filmfare Award resulted from Sigappu Rojakkal, a thriller in which he played a psychopathic sexual killer.
In the 1978 Telugu film Sommokadidhi Sokkadidhi, Haasan played two parts. He also appeared in the musical Ninaithale Inikkum, a snake-horror film (Neeya) and Kalyanaraman. At the end of the 1970s he had a total of six regional Best Actor Filmfare Awards, including four consecutive Best Tamil Actor Awards
Haasan's films during the 1980s included 1980's Tamil-language Varumayin Niram Sigappu, in which he played an unemployed youth; he also made a cameo appearance in Rajinikanth's 1981 Thillu Mullu. Haasan made his Bollywood debut in Ek Duuje Ke Liye, the remake of his Telugu-language film Maro Charithra directed by K. Balachander (which earned him his first Filmfare Hindi-language nomination). He made his 100th film appearance in 1981 in Raja Paarvai, debuting as a producer. Despite the film's relatively poor box-office performance, his portrayal of a blind session violinist earned him a Filmfare Award. After a year of starring in commercial films, Haasan won the first of three National Awards for Best Actor for his portrayal of a schoolteacher caring for an amnesia patient in Balu Mahendra's Moondram Pirai, later reprising his role in the Hindi version, Sadma. During this period he focused on Bollywood remakes of his Tamil films, including Yeh To Kamaal Ho Gaya and Zara Si Zindagi. In 1983 he appeared in Sagara Sangamam, directed by K. Vishwanath. His portrayal of an alcoholic classical dancer won him his first Nandi Award for Best Actor and his second Filmfare Best Telugu Actor Award.
After 1984's Raaj Tilak, Haasan appeared in Saagar (released 1985), winning the Filmfare Best Actor Award and nominated for the Best Supporting Actor award. The film was India's representative for the Best Foreign Language Oscar in 1985. He appeared in Geraftaar and later featured in Japanil Kalyanaraman (a sequel to his 1979 Kalyanaraman). In 1986 Haasan again collaborated with K. Vishwanath in Swathi Muthyam, playing an autistic person who tries to change society; it was India's entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards in 1986. These Tollywood films found him a large audience in Andhra Pradesh, and many of his later Tamil films were dubbed into Telugu. Following Punnagai Mannan (in which he played two roles, including a satire of Charlie Chaplin as Chaplin Chellappa) and Vetri Vizha (where he played an amnesiac), Haasan appeared in Mani Ratnam's 1987 film Nayakan. He received his second Indian National Award for his performance; Nayakan was submitted by India as its entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 1987 Academy Awards, and is on the Time's All-Time 100 Movies list. In 1988 Haasan appeared in his only silent film to date: Pushpak, a black comedy. He appeared in Unnal Mudiyum Thambi (a remake of the Telugu film Rudraveena), Sathya in 1988 and Apoorva Sagodharargal in 1989. Haasan played two parts in Indrudu Chandrudu, winning the Filmfare Best Actor and Nandi Awards for his performance. He ended the decade with his last starring role in an original Malayalam film to date, in Chanakyan. By the end of the 1980s Haasan was successful in the Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu and Hindi film industries, with Filmfare Awards in each industry and two national awards.
After a two-year hiatus from Indian cinema, Haasan decided against reviving Marudhanayagam. He directed his second film, Hey Ram: a period drama, told in flashback, with a fact-based plot centering around the partition of India and the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Haasan produced and choreographed the film, writing its screenplay and lyrics. It also featured Shah Rukh Khan, and was India's submission for the Academy Awards that year. Also in 2000, Haasan appeared in the comedy Thenali as a Sri Lankan Tamilian with PTSD who is under a psychiatrist's care. Thenali, starring Malayalam actor Jayaram, was a box-office success. Haasan's next film was 2001's Aalavandhan, in which he played two roles (for one of which he had his head shaved and gained ten kilograms). To play the other Army major in Aalavandhan, he went to the NDA for a crash course. The Hindi version was distributed by Shringar Films. Despite pre-release publicity, the film was a commercial failure and Haasan repaid distributors who had lost money.
After a number of successful comedies (including Pammal K. Sambandam and Panchathantiram) and guest appearances Haasan directed Virumaandi, a film about capital punishment which won the Best Asian Film Award at the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival. He also appeared in Anbe Sivam with Madhavan. Priyadarshan, its original director, left and Sundar C. completed the film. Anbe Sivam tells the story of Nallasivam, portrayed by Haasan as a communist. His performance was praised by critics, with The Hindu saying that he "has once again done Tamil cinema proud".
In 2004 Haasan appeared in Vasool Raja MBBS, a remake of Bollywood's Munnabhai MBBS with Sneha which was a box-office success. The following year, he wrote and starred in the comedy Mumbai Express. Released during Tamil New Year with Rajinikanth's Chandramukhi and Vijay's romantic comedy Sachien, it was a disappointment at the box office despite positive reviews. In 2006 Haasan's long-delayed project, the police story Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu, was a success. Directed by Gautham Menon, the film is about a police officer sent to the US to investigate a series of medical murders. In 2008's Dasavathaaram, he played ten different roles; the film was released in a number of languages (including Tamil, Telugu and Hindi) throughout India and overseas. Dasavathaaram, written by Haasan and director K. S. Ravikumar, is one of the first modern science-fiction films made in India. Starring Haasan and Asin Thottumkal, it was the highest-grossing Tamil film (as of 2008) and his performance was critically praised. In Canada, Dasavathaaram was the first Tamil film distributed by Walt Disney Pictures.
After Dasavathaaram Haasan directed a film tentatively entitled Marmayogi, which stalled after a year of pre-production. He then produced and starred in Unnaipol Oruvan, a remake of the Bollywood film A Wednesday, where he reprised the role originally played by Naseeruddin Shah with Malayalam actor Mohanlal playing Anupam Kher's role. Haasan collaborated for the fifth time with Ravikumar in Manmadan Ambu, also writing the screenplay. The story concerns a man who hires a detective to find out if his fiancée is cheating on him. Haasan's next film after Manmadhan Ambu was 2013's Vishwaroopam, released in Hindi as Vishwaroop. It won two National Film Awards (Best Production Design and Best Choreography) at the 60th National Film Awards. The film's sequel Vishwaroopam II is scheduled to release in November in the same year.
Haasan was born in the town of Paramakudi, in the Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu, to criminal lawyer D. Srinivasan and Rajalakshmi (a housewife). One source says that his parents originally named him Parthasarathy.In an interview with Karan Thapar, Haasan said his father was literate in Sanskrit. Kamal was the youngest of four children; his siblings are Charuhasan, Chandrahasan and Nalini (Raghu). His two older brothers followed their father's example, and studied law.
Haasan referred to his parents in Unnaipol Oruvan and the song "Kallai Mattum" in Dasavathaaram. His oldest brother Charuhasan, like Kamal, is a National Film Award-winning actor who appeared in the Kannada film Tabarana Kathe. His brother's daughter Anu Hasan has had supporting roles in several films, including Suhasini's Indira. Haasan's sister, Nalini Raghu, is a dance teacher for whom he named an auditorium (Nalini Mahal). Her son, Gautham, played Haasan's grandson in Hey Ram.