Thamizh Talkies: When stars align
The writer is a former journalist who has worked in the film industry for several years and is passionate about movies, music and everything related to entertainment
November could be called the month of Kamal Haasan this year, in the film industry. Even as this column goes to print, the Indian film fraternity celebrates 60 glorious years of Ulaganayagan. What strikes me as truly remarkable is, how his career is a sum total of his talent combined with contributions and learnings he has gleaned from those around him. A chat with Kamal Haasan is always peppered with anecdotes and references to film talents he admires or those who have crossed his path and helped him evolve. As someone who has grown up on the Kamal-Rajini legendary friendship, my ears perk up whenever an anecdote or erstwhile memory from their film shoot is harked back upon with fondness. I had the good fortune to witness their camaraderie first-hand recently.
When Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth meet each other, there is a sense of acceptance and surrender. Ego takes a back seat. It is a genuine union of batch mates who are each other’s best rivals and better friends. We might have had that one person-be it in school, college or at work, who is truly our equal and who is placed opposite us, but who is also beside us. That person is like an alter ego to our personalities, he or she is our “other side”. In this other twin, we see a connect, a resonance. That lends itself to a lifelong relationship which in turn lends itself to magical moments and memories. K Balachander perhaps best captured it in the last film we saw of Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth together. The film was also aptly titled Ninaithaaley Inikkum, a title with perhaps a forethought of how we must think of Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth, in the future.
I wish the film had more focus on their escapades in Singapore and I wish the musical angle was more amplified because the soundtrack by M S Vishwanathan is still contemporary. I would, in fact, call it 'cult' (Yengeyum Yeppodhum has seen a dozen remixes by now). But in the late 70s when the film released, the storyline was considered confusing (much like the character of the female lead played by an enigmatic and beautiful Jayapradha). The film also didn’t see a great box-office run. However, many scenes, especially the ones involving Rajinikanth and his punch phrase Shivasambho became as big a hit down the years as much as the film’s romantic hero character Chandru, played by Kamal Haasan. The word 'chemistry' is more often used in Haasan's context when it comes to his heroines. But to me, the best chemistry he enjoys is with Rajinikanth. The duo have attained a legendary status beyond what stars across the world have reached in their prime and it’s purely because they are unique actors whose cinematic fates are entwined in one man’s “start, camera, action”: Director K Balachander. That apart, their personal give and take of space during their initial years of struggle up until now and their open acknowledgment of each other’s growth and success which they don’t shy away from accepting in public forums, prove that despite the commercial tussle, here exists the sort of honesty and love we share with our best friends for life.
Of course, it will be a wonder if these two legends act together again and who better to direct them other than Mani Ratnam! So what can it be? A full-fledged action film? Or a slow-burn political thriller? And yes, let both genres have dollops of romance thrown in as well. Are we already smiling at the very thought?