Over the past few days, I have been wondering what is it that attracts me to Kamal Haasan.
The versatile acting, the staunchly apolitical stand on all issues, the maverick film making, the ability to divorce the stormy personal life from the professional one, the switch from atheism to a soft agnosticism, the way he constantly reinvents himself… The list is endless. He has been one of the biggest influences in my life and this post is to wish him on his 51st birthday.
Happy Birthday Kamal Sir!
I am glad Lagaan didn’t win at the Academy Awards. As a Kamal fan, there can only be one acknowledgement of his talent, the Oscar. Yes, he does say he respects awards from within India more than foreign ones, but I am sure, there is this secret longing for that kind of recognition in every actor who has reached the pinnacle of his craft.
And, I do hope he makes Marudanayagam soon! A little information about Yusuf Khan, Kamal’s character in Marudanaayagam, in Kamal’s own words.
“After Guna I wanted to do a different film, quite different from the existing genres. I settled on history, and went back in time to discover a person immortalised in a Tamil ballad — simply written but lucidly told — of a man who was a great warrior, a folk legend who, towards the end, was almost deified.
“Going back almost 275 years, the lovely ballad was full of euphemisms, of speeches like that of Mark Anthony. Researching further, we confirmed there was a kind of a ban on this fiery character and that the ruling Nawab and the British must have been hostile to him. What was more intriguing was that the gentleman was from the same district as me — Ramanathapuram.”
Yusuf Khan was born a Hindu, converted to Islam and married a half-French half-Portuguese woman named Masha. He was betrayed by his own, for a Hindu, a Muslim and a French commander were keen to destroy him. He was hung like a common thief, unsung and unfeted.
“He was ostracised from his community because of his liberal views. Though he adopted various religions, ultimately the religion of war stuck to him. He was a rare combination of a great fighter and an administrator.
He was the first commander of the sepoys for the East India Company and the first warrior who attempted European style warfare on Indian soil. He started out by helping the British against the French but eventually turned against them. But while he was still helping the British, he was the commander in arms with Clive and was the blue eyed boy of Stringer Lawrence, who described him in glowing terms for his valour and courage.”
The full interview can be found here.