Actor Kamal Haasan believes that there should be no gap between the south and north film industries. "I dislike such bifurcations since the entertainment industry is one, and also, India’s strength lies in its unity in diversity," he says.
Has he ever faced any discrimination in his four-decade-old career, as he was one of the few Tamil actors who did other language films? "Initially, Gauthami mistook me to be a Telugu-speaking actor and for quite some time, refused to believe otherwise. Fortunately for me, audiences all over welcomed me with open arms. So, I had no difficulty in moving around," he informs.
Kamal is a household name in T-town as well, with roaring hits like Maro Charitra and Sagara Sangamam, but his last Telugu film, Eenadu (Unnaipol Oruvan) didn’t fare well. "My next release, the dubbed version of Manmadhan Ambu has enough potential," he reasons.
How does it feel, playing a lover boy at 50-plus? "Well, I am still capable of love and also, it’s not a post-college romance — it is rather mature and sensible," he explains.
Ask him what the secret behind his ability to establish himself as a versatile actor rather than just riding on stardom alone is and he says, "I refuse to do bad stuff and openly voice my views against inferior work."
But hasn’t cinema as an art form been most abused in the name of commercialism? "To an extent, yes. But there are some filmmakers who are trying to raise the bar. Even bharatanatyam was monotonous before Padma Subramaniam redefined it. For that matter, every cultural and public utility tool has been abused. So, innovation in every field is more of a necessity than choice," he says.
The seasoned actor’s take on the fancy pay packets of stars takes us by surprise. "Remunerations work more on the demand and supply module and customers need to pay more to enjoy a luxury product," he says emphatically.
Ask the Mahatma Gandhi admirer whether Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi could go down as the best film made on the leader, and he replies, "It definitely showcased one dimension of his persona, but what about my film Hey Ram and Shyam Benegal’s film that tried to explore his other shades? However, even a staunch anti-Gandhian will find it very difficult to list out ‘bad things’ about the historical hero."
Now that his daughter Shruti Haasan has also entered the filmi fray, does he think acting is in the genes? "Not at all. Initially, she showed interest in music, but she is now trying her hand at acting. Every individual learns and evolves on his own. I was also a reluctant actor since I always dreamt of working behind the camera, but I’ve spent 50 years in front of it," he says, as a parting shot.