Writing a piece on writing a piece on Kamal Haasan

Posted on November 7, 2018

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Read the full article on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/kamal-haasan-64-birthday-zero-anand-rai-punnagai-mannan-apoorva-sagotharargal/

On the multi-hyphenate’s 64th birthday, Baradwaj Rangan tries to make a list and gets meta (and how fitting is that, given this star)!

I’ve just realised it’s tough to write a peg-less piece about Kamal Haasan. Well, there is a peg: his birthday. But it’s not enough of a peg as, say, the announcement of Aanand L Rai’s Shah Rukh Khan-starring Zero, in which case I could have dug back to Punnagai Mannan, where Kamal Haasan pretended to play a dwarf, and fast-forwarded to Apoorva Sagotharargal, where he did play a dwarf. Now, there’s a peg: All the times Kamal Haasan did it first. The first hero to use a laptop (in Michael Madana Kamarajan), the first hero to play a ventriloquist (Avargal), so on, so forth. But what do you do when you’re asked to write a birthday piece? He turns 64 this year, so shall we take his 64th film, 16 Vayathinile (according to the Wiki filmography), and talk about how remarkable that performance was, and still is?

But then, so much has been written about that film. So much has been written about Kamal Haasan’s performance in it. So much has been written about Kamal Haasan’s performances in general. Moondram Pirai. Nayakan. Pushpak. Mahanadhi. So on. So forth. So I thought maybe I’d do an anti-performance piece, with a list of films in which the actor basically dialled it in and yet, was crazy-fun to watch. Top on that list would be Kakki Chattai, a bit of fluff whose writing, incredibly, is credited to a small army: the Sathya Movies’ Story Team, Kumar, Livingston, Avinasimani, PL Sundararajan, Radha Veerannan and V Thamizhazhagan. Whoever’s responsible for the Kamal-Ambika portions did a bang-up job. These portions could teach today’s filmmakers a thing or two about how to write banter.

Continued at the link above.

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