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Kamal Haasan
Born Kamal Haasan
November 7, 1954 (1954-11-07) (age 55)
Paramakudi, Madras State, India
Occupation Actor, Director
Years active 1959 - present
Spouse(s) Vani Ganapathi
Domestic partner(s) Gouthami Tadimalla

Kamal Haasan (Tamil: கமல்ஹாசன்) (born 7 November 1954 in Paramakudi, Madras State, India) is an Indian film actor, script writer, and filmmaker, considered one of the leading method actors of Indian cinema.[1][2] Haasan is known for winning several Indian film awards, including earning the most National Film Awards and Filmfare Awards, and also has the distinction of being the actor with the most number of films submitted by India in contest for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In addition to acting and directing, he is a screenwriter, lyricist, playback singer and choreographer. His film production company, Rajkamal International, has produced several of his films.

After several projects as a child artiste, Kamal Haasan's breakthrough into lead acting came with his role in the 1975 drama Apoorva Raagangal, in which he played a rebellious youth in love with an older woman. He secured his first Indian National Film Award for his portrayal of a guileless school teacher who tends a child-like amnesiac in 1982's Moondram Pirai. He was particularly noted for his performance in Mani Ratnam's Godfatheresque Nayagan (1987), which was ranked by Time magazine as one of the best films of all time.[3] Since then he has gone on to appear in other notable films such as his own productions, Hey Ram and Virumaandi, as well as the magnum opus Dasavathaaram, in which he appeared in ten distinct roles.




Early career: 1960s – early 1970s

Kamal Haasan as seen in his debut, Kalathur Kannamma

Kamal Haasan made his film debut as a 4-year-old child artiste, in Kalathur Kannamma which was directed by A. Bhimsingh and released on 12 August 1959. He was cast along with the veteran Tamil actor Gemini Ganesan, winning the National Film Award for Best Child Artist.[4] He acted as a child actor in five other Tamil films in the subsequent few years co-starring with Sivaji Ganesan and M. G. Ramachandran.

Following a nine year hiatus from films to concentrate on his education as well as learning karate and Bharathanatyam, Haasan returned with a series of low budget films in 1972, in all of which he played supporting roles. These films included roles in Arangetram and Sollathaan Ninaikkiren, both co-starring Sivakumar. His final supporting role before establishing himself as a lead actor was in Naan Avanillai.[5]

Late 1970s – 1980s

Kamal Haasan first received a regional Filmfare Award for acting for his role in the Malayalam film Kanyakumari (1974).[6] In the next four years, he won six regional Best Actor Filmfare Awards, including four consecutive Best Tamil Actor Awards.[7] He acted in director K. Balachander's Apoorva Raagangal, an exploration of age-gap relationships. The late 1970s was a period that saw Kamal Haasan's frequent collaboration with K. Balachander, who also cast him in many of his socially-themed films such as Avargal (1977).[8] The film won Haasan his first Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award.[9] In 1976, Haasan appeared in the drama Moondru Mudichu with Rajinikanth and Sridevi, another K. Balachander film, Manmadha Leelai, and Oru Oodhappu Kan Simittugiradhu, which won him his second consecutive Best Actor Award.[7] 16 Vayathinile won him his third consecutive award, where he appeared as a mentally ill villager, once again alongside Rajinikanth and Sridevi.[9][7] The fourth consecutive award came with Sigappu Rojakal in which he appeared as an anti-hero who is a psychopathic sexual killer. In the late seventies, Haasan appeared in other films such as the comedy Ninaithale Inikkum and the horror film Neeya.

Haasan's pairing with the actress Sridevi continued with Guru and Varumayin Niram Sigappu in 1980. Kamal Haasan also made guest–cameo appearances, such as in the Rajnikanth film Thillu Mullu; Rajinikanth had previously appeared in some of Kamal Haasan's films. Haasan's 100th career film appearance was in 1981's Raja Paarvai, which also marked his debut in film production. Despite this film's relatively poor reception at the cinemas, his portrayal of a blind session violinist earned him a Filmfare Award.[10] His next acting role, in Ek Duuje Ke Liye, became his first Hindi-language film. It was the remake of his previous Telugu-language film, Maro Charithra by K. Balachandar. Following a year of starring in commercially-oriented films, Haasan won his first of three National Awards for Best Actor with his portrayal of a school teacher who looks after a mentally retarded girl in Balu Mahendra's Moondram Pirai, alter reprising the role in the Hindi version, Sadma.[9] In 1983, Haasan appeared in Thoongadhey Thambi Thoongadhey playing a double role.

Till 1985, Haasan began to appear in more Hindi language films, including Saagar, for which he was awarded both the Filmfare Best Actor Award and the Best Supporting Actor Award, making him the first actor to win both awards for a single film.[6] Saagar portrayed him alongside Rishi Kapoor both of whom were pinning for a woman, but Haasan ultimately loses out. Haasan also appeared in Geraftaar. He featured in Tamil cinema's first sequel Japanil Kalyanaraman, which followed up his previous, Kalyanaraman as well as acting in Uruvangal Maralam co-starring Sivaji Ganesan and Rajinikanth.

In the mid-1980s, Haasan appeared in two Telugu language films, Sagara Sangamam and Swathi Muthyam with director, Kasinadhuni Viswanath. The latter film was India's representative for the Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language Film in 1986.[9] Whilst, the former film portrayed Haasan as a drunkard classical dancer, Swathi Muthyam portrays him as an autistic person attempting to change society. Following Punnagai Mannan, in which he portrays dual roles including a satire of Charlie Chaplin and Vetri Vizha as an amnesiac, Haasan appeared in Mani Rathnam's 1987 film Nayagan. Nayagan portrays the life of an underworld don in Bombay. The story revolves around the life of a real-life underworld don called Varadarajan Mudaliar, whilst sympathetically depicting the struggle of South Indians living in Mumbai.[9] Haasan received a Indian National Award for his performance and Nayagan was nominated by India as its entry for the Best Foreign Language Film for the Academy Awards in 1987 as well as being included in the Time top 100 movies list. In 1988, Haasan appeared in his only silent film to date, appearing in the black comedy Pushpak.[9] In 1989, Haasan played a triple role in Apoorva Sagodharargal. The commercial film portrayed him in a role as a dwarf.[9] He then attempted dual roles in Indrudu Chandrudu and its Tamil remake, winning the regional Best Actor Award for his performance.

The 1990s

Michael Madhana Kamarajan in 1991 saw Haasan go one step further, acting in four different roles as quadruplets with the film starting an ongoing collaboration for future comedy films between Haasan and Crazy Mohan, a dialogue writer.[11] The film became a blockbuster, with Haasan's portrayals all being critically praised; with one forming the crux for a future venture by his production house.[12] Haasan won successive best actor awards for his portrayal of the deranged, obsessive protagonist in Guna and in Thevar Magan, where he played the son of actor, Sivaji Ganesan. Guna met with critical acclaim but failed commercially, whilst the latter became a big success, being remade into Hindi as Virasat, with Haasan credited for the story as well as being India's submission for the Academy Awards that year. After a series of successful commercial films such as Singaravelan, Maharasan and Kalaignan; Haasan began to appear in comedies such as Sathi Leelavathi, based on the English film She-Devil, as well as renewing his collobaration with Kasinadhuni Viswanath in his last Telugu language film to date, Subha Sankalpam. The film, Haasan's home production, featured him opposite comedienne Kovai Sarala and it's success led on to further regional remakes. In 1996, Haasan starred in the police story, Kuruthipunal. His success in Kuruthipunal, was followed by his third National Film Award for Best Actor in Indian.[13] Playing dual roles of a freedom fighter and his untrustful son, the film also won Haasan regional awards and plaudits for his portrayal.[14] Moreover, both films were also selected as India's submission for the Academy Awards in their respectiver release years.

Haasan appeared as a woman in Avvai Shanmughi inspired by the Hollywood production, Mrs. Doubtfire.[15] In 1997, Haasan began his first directorial venture, the biopic of Mohammed Yusuf Khan, Marudhanayagam which failed to complete its schedules with only half an hour and a trailer being recorded during its shoot.[16] Marudhanayagam had been speculated to be the biggest and most expensive film in Indian cinema with a number of high profile actors technicians signing up for roles. Moreover, the film was launched in a much publicized ceremony by Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom during her visit to India in 1997.[17][18] Due to budget constraints, the film failed to materialize into feature length but Haasan has sinced stated his interest in building up funds for the project since.[19] Haasan soon made his debut as director with a remake of Avvai Shanmughi in Hindi titled Chachi 420.[20]

2000s: Hey Ram and onwards

Following a two-year hiatus in Indian cinema, Haasan opted against reviving his magnum opus, Marudhanayagam, and filmed his second directorial venture, Hey Ram, a period drama told in flashback with a semi-fictional plot centering around India's Partition and the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Haasan also took on roles as the writer, the lyricist and the choreographer as well as producing the film under his home banner. The film, also featured Shahrukh Khan and was India's submission for the Academy Awards that year.[21] His following film was Aalavandhan, where he portrayed two distinct roles, for one of which he had his head shaved bald and gained ten kilograms. Despite much publicity prior to release, the film failed commercially, with Haasan opting to repay distributors who had suffered losses with the film.[22]

Following a series of successful comedies in Thenali, Panchathantiram and Pammal K. Sambandam and a couple of guest appearances, Haasan directed his third feature film in Virumaandi, a film about the death penalty.[23] Haasan also appeared in Anbe Sivam alongside Madhavan. Priyadarshan, who started the film, departed allowing commercial director Sundar C to complete the film. Anbe Sivam told the story of Nallasivam, enacted by Haasan as an idealist, social activist and communist. Kamal Haasan's performance was highly lauded by critics with The Hindu stating that Haasan "has once again done Tamil cinema proud".[24]

Haasan then appeared in the remake film Vasool Raja alongside Sneha. In 2006, Haasan's long delayed project, Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu emerged as a blockbuster.[25] Gautham Menon's Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu was Haasan's first cop film since Kuruthipunal. In 2008, Haasan appeared in K. S. Ravikumar's Dasavathaaram portraying ten distinct roles in the venture which to-date remains the most expensive Indian film ever made.[26] Pairing opposite Asin Thottumkal, the film became the second highest grossing film ever in Tamil cinema and won Haasan critical praise for his enactment.[27][28] He had also undertook the opportunity of being the story and screenwriter for the project. Following the completion of Dasavathaaram, Haasan opted to direct his fourth directorial venture, with a film tentatively titled Marmayogi, which after a year of pre-production became stalled.[29] He then opted to produce and star in a venture, Unnaipol Oruvan, co-starring him with Mohanlal. The film, which had Shruti Haasan appear as the music director, became a successful venture for Haasan at the box-office.[30]

Personal life


Kamal Haasan filmed with M. G. Ramachandran

Kamal Haasan was born on 7 November 1954 to a criminal lawyer named D. Srinivasan and his wife Rajalakshmi, both a part of the Tamil Iyengar caste, in the village of Paramakudi in the Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu.[31] Haasan has referred to his parents in recent films, with references being made in Unnaipol Oruvan as well as in the song, Kallai Mattum from Dasavathaaram.[32] Kamal Haasan was the youngest of three brothers, the others being Charuhasan and Chandra Haasan. Charuhasan, like Kamal Haasan, is a National Film Award-winning actor, who appeared in the noted Kannada film, Tabarana Kathe among others, but he has semi-retired from films since of recent times. Kamal's niece (Charuhasan's daughter), Suhasini is also a National Film Award Winner and is married to noted director and fellow Award winner, Mani Ratnam, who collaborated with Kamal Haasan in 1987's Nayagan.[33] Chandra Haasan has appeared as the producer for several of Kamal Haasan's films as well as being an executive of Kamal Haasan's home production company, Rajkamal International. His brother's daughter Anu Haasan has appeared in several films in supporting roles, most notably in Suhasini's Indira.[34]


Despite his much praised and applauded film career, his personal life had some setbacks which have been exploited by the media. In Haasan's early career, he co-starred in several Tamil and Malayalam films with noted actress Srividya. The pair were reported to have been a part of a notorious affair in the 1970s, with their relationship being explored in the 2008-released Malayalam film, Thirakkatha by Renjith, with Anoop Menon portraying Haasan and Priyamani playing Srividya. Srividya, who died in 2006, was visited by Haasan at her bedside during her final days.[35] In 1978, at the age of twenty four, Haasan met and married danseuse Vani Ganapathy, who was elder to him. Vani put on the mantle of costume designer for her Haasan's movies and was publicized for walking along with Haasan into the Filmfare Awards South ceremony of 1980, immediately after their wedding. However, the couple split after ten years together, after Haasan began dating fellow actress, Sarika, with Haasan confirming in a later interview that he and Vani have never been in touch ever since their divorce.[36]

Subsequently, Haasan and Sarika married in 1988, with the pair having two children: Shruti Haasan (born 1986) and Akshara Haasan (born 1991). The former is a singer as well as an upcoming actress, whilst the latter is pursuing higher studies in Bangalore. Sarika, retired from acting roles soon after her marriage with Haasan, replacing his ex-wife, Vani Ganapathy as Haasan's costume designer, with acclaimed work in Hey Ram. However, the pair filed for divorced in 2002, with Sarika estranging herself from her children as well as Haasan by the end of the procedure in 2004.[37] Haasan's intimate relationship with co-star Simran Bagga, who is twenty two years younger, became the reason for the split. A brief relationship with Simran, who appeared opposite Haasan in two consecutive ventures with Pammal K. Sambandam and Panchathantiram, followed after she ended her relationship with choreographer Raju Sundaram. However, the pair's companionship was short lived, with Simran going onto marry a childhood friend in 2004.[38] Currently Haasan lives with former actress, Gouthami Tadimalla, who co-starred with Haasan in several films in the late 80's to the early 90's. Haasan helped her during her traumatic experience suffering from breast cancer and the pair have been in a domestic relationship since 2005. Along with Shruti and Akshara, Gouthami's daughter, Subbalakshmi, from an annulled marriage also lives with them.[39]

Awards and honours

Kamal Haasan, a Padmashri holder, is the most decorated actor in terms of awards in the history of Indian cinema.[40] He holds the record for the most National Film Awards for an actor with four, three awards for Best Actor and one for Best Child Artiste. Moreover, Haasan holds a record nineteen Filmfare Awards - ranging across five languages, and after his latest award in 2000, wrote to the organisation to exempt him from further awards.[40] Other recognitions include a string of Tamil Nadu State Film Awards, Nandi Awards and Vijay Awards, in which Haasan won four separate awards for his performance in Dasavathaaram.

Notable filmography

Year Film Role Language Notes
1960 Kalathur Kannamma Selvam Tamil Winner: National Film Award for Best Child Artist
1975 Apoorva Raagangal Prasanna Tamil Winner: Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award
1982 Moondram Pirai Srinivasan Tamil Winner: National Film Award for Best Actor
1983 Sagara Sangamam Balakrishna Telugu Winner: Filmfare Best Telugu Actor Award
Winner: Nandi Award for Best Actor
1987 Nayagan Velu Nayakkar Tamil Winner: National Film Award for Best Actor
1988 Pushpak Pushpak Silent Winner: Filmfare Best Kannada Actor Award
1989 Apoorva Sagodharargal Sedhupathy,
Tamil Portrayed three roles; one was a dwarf
1992 Thevar Magan Shakthivelu Thevar Tamil Winner: Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award
Scripted and produced by Kamal Haasan
1996 Indian Senapathy Bose,
Chandra Bose
Tamil Portrayed a dual role
Winner: National Film Award for Best Actor
Winner: Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award
2000 Hey Ram Saket Ram Tamil
Winner: Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award
Scripted, produced and directed by Kamal Haasan
2008 Dasavathaaram Ten different roles Tamil Portrayed 10 different roles
Scripted by Kamal Haasan


  1. ^ UCLA International Institute. 2005. Screening - Nayakan (Hero). Available from: Accessed 15 February 2008.
  2. ^ UCLA School of Arts and Architecture. 2005. UCLA Year of the Arts — Program brochure. Available from: Accessed 15 February 2008.
  3. ^ Time Magazine. 2005. All-Time 100 Best Films. Available from: Accessed 13 February 2008.
  4. ^ Mukund Padmanaban (1997). "We are capable of making films for people worldwide". Indian Express. Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  5. ^ Kumar, Shiva (2009). "I’m a limelight moth". The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  6. ^ a b Mahesh, Richard (2009). "Kamal Haasan completes 50 glorious years of filmdom". Retrieved 2009-12-25. 
  7. ^ a b c "Kamal The Dustin Hoffman of India". 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  8. ^ Padmanabhan, Mukund (1997). "We are capable of making films for people worldwide". Indian Express. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Panicker, Prem (2003). "Kamal's Best". Rediff. Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  10. ^ K. Jeshi (2004). "No stopping him". The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  11. ^ Adhiraj, Vijay (2004). "`Each medium has its own USP'". The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  12. ^ "Madhavan learns Malayalam". New Straits Times. 2003.,1489349&dq=michael+madhana+kamarajan&hl=en. Retrieved 2003-03-13. 
  13. ^ "Kamal Hassan, Tabu win national awards". Indian Express. 1997. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  14. ^ Rajitha (1999). "Shilpa to do a Shankar film". Rediff. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  15. ^ V. S. Srinivasan (1998). "Aunty vs Chachi". Rediff. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  16. ^ "‘Marudanayagam’ resurfaces". 2008. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  17. ^ T. S. Subramaniam (1997). "A rough passage to India". The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  18. ^ V. S. Srinivasan (1998). "Making of an epic". The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  19. ^ "Don’t let mediocrity be the standard:Kamal". Times of India. 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  20. ^ Deepa Deosthalee (1998). "The great Bollywood rip-off". Indian Express. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  21. ^ "Wide acclaim for Indian films in US festival". Times of India. 2001. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  22. ^ "The many faces of success". The Hindu. 2005. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  23. ^ "Drop in releases". Screen India. 2001. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  24. ^ Malathi Rangarajan (2003). "Anbe Sivam". The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  25. ^ Shreedhar Pillai (2006). "Vote is for the different". The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  26. ^ "Reincarnated as George W Bush". 2008. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  27. ^ "Suriya is king in Mumbai!". Sify. 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  28. ^ Malathi Rangarajan (2008). "‘Dasavathaaram’: in the manner of an epic". The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  29. ^ "Kamal's 'Marmayogi' shelved". The Hindu. 2008. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  30. ^ Ranjib Mazumder (2009). "Kamal Haasan admits being a player for the market". Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  31. ^ Kumar, Rajitha (2000). "Kamal, as we know him". Retrieved 2009-06-30. 
  32. ^ Pavithra Srinivasan (2008). "Dasavatharam music is mediocre". Rediff. Retrieved 2009-06-30. 
  33. ^ "Married to the medium". Tribune India. 2003. Retrieved 2009-06-30. 
  34. ^ "Celebrity: Kamal Haasan". 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-30. 
  35. ^ TR (2008). "Wasn't Ranjith telling Sreevidya's tale?". Retrieved 2009-06-30. 
  36. ^ "Slrrp! Slrrp!". The Telegraph. 2005. Retrieved 2009-06-30. 
  37. ^ Jha, Subhash K. (2003). "'My main concern is the kids'". Times of India. Retrieved 2009-06-30. 
  38. ^ Johar, Suhel. (2002). "Simran Moves into Kamal Haasan's House". Retrieved 2009-06-30. 
  39. ^ "Gauthami is next to my Mom – Kamal Haasan". 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  40. ^ a b "The legend turns 53". Zee News. 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-30. 

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