As Unnai Pol Oruvan gets ready to roll out Kamal Haasan talks about the universality of its theme.
It’s becoming a norm with Kamal Haasan’s films in recent years, and his just-to-be released Unnaipol Oruvan isn’t an exception. The innocuous remake has been made to take a legal route to the cinema halls. In fact this regular pattern of constitutional recourse has begun to prove a good omen for the producer-actor. “I don’t believe in omens. Hopefully, the film should do well,” guffaws Kamal Haasan, as he settles down for a one-to-one at his office on Eldams Road. And to think I entered expecting the actor to be tense over the issue!
“No tension at all! This time it’s just ridiculous. I have complete faith in the judiciary and I’ve nothing to hide. I wish to know where the man, who created trouble saying Dasavathaaram is his story, is now. I know who instigated him to do it. The same goes for those causing hurdles in the path of Unnai Pol Oruvan. I don’t wish to belittle myself talking about it but how long does one keep silent? Is giving a cheque that bounces a trivial matter?” Without raising his voice he makes his point clear.
He has lost a year’s time on MarmaYogi, which has snowballed into an issue that tried to put a spoke in the wheel of Unnai Pol Oruvan. “Not just time, I’ve also lost money,” says Kamal.
Take on remakes
Hasn’t his take on remakes changed over the years? Long ago in an interview he had said he loathed them. “It was Mani Ratnam’s view, not mine. How could I dislike remakes when my career soared mainly because of them? Ek Dhujje Ke Liye, for example, was Maro Charitra remade,” he counters, and after a pause adds, “It doesn’t mean I’m an advocate of remakes, because you can’t deny the fact that a little of the fun is lost when making them. The thrill of adventure and discovery that you experience when working on an original story is missing, but that’s about it,” he shrugs.
Did he completely erase Naseeruddin Shah’s portrayal in A Wednesday from his mind and begin afresh for Unnai …? “That’s the best way to do it — thinking of the role as your own and going ahead. Sivaji Ganesan would have done the same for Uthama Puththiran, which incidentally was a remake, and Kambar’s approach to the Ramayanam must have been similar.”
On his choice of Mohanlal for the other powerful role in Unnai … Kamal says, “I zeroed in on Mohanlal because of his prodigious talent — the same reason why Ram Gopal Varma took him on board his Hindi film. Beauty and talent transcend borders and languages. I’ve been accepted in Malayalam, Telugu and Hindi. My accent was no deterrent. So also Rajinikanth is ours and is loved by all of us. And I don’t think Mani Ratnam took Aishwarya Rai for his films because she speaks flawless Tamil,” he laughs.
“I didn’t turn writer just because I had the means and the inclination to do it. I wrote only when I was sure I could deliver. The same goes for everyone else. If Raj Kamal has booked Mysskin for its next project it’s because I see his potential. Similarly Shruti hasn’t got into composing in a day,” says Kamal.
He groomed his daughter in the line of her choice and watched her grow step by step. He sent her to LA to train in music and only when he found her equipped for the task did he assign her the job of scoring music for Unnai …
“I did for her what my dad did for me,” he smiles, “helping her hone her skill in the field she’s interested in.” But being the child of a popular person is an onus, avers Kamal. “I have a lot of sympathy for Prabhu. However well he performs he is bound to be compared to Sivaji Ganesan. The same goes for Karthik Raja and Yuvan. They are weighed down by the colossal image of their father Ilaiyaraja. But today I’m elated when people of merit, like M. S.Viswanathan, have given the verdict that the music of Unnai … is commendable. I’ll cherish MSV’s words till my retirement and beyond. The music company is happy and the response to the disc is encouraging.”
Unnai Pol Oruvan also marks the debut of director Chakri Toleti. The film has been shot on RED, the camera used in a couple of other recent films. “And we’ve gone in for 4K resolution,” says Kamal.
“I’m confident the film will speak for itself. It’s the common man’s anger, angst and suffering that Unnai … portrays. And if everyone likes the subject it is because of its universality. After all terrorism affects the world as a whole,” he sums up.
I’m confident the film will speak for itself