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Catching Kamal in action

"Vasool Raja MBBS" ... a poignant scene being enacted

WHEN `KAVITHALAYA' Krishnan excitedly calls you up to speak about his recent experience of watching Kamal Hassan acting out a sentimental sequence for "Vasool Raja MBBS" your immediate thought is, `So, what's new?' Naturally.

Stating that Kamal Hassan is a commendable performer is not merely superfluous — at times it could even sound presumptuous. But that Krishnan, who has done small roles in as many as eleven Kamal films and seen the actor in action from close quarters often, seems still overawed by the veteran's performing skills, kindles your curiosity.

"There's this heavy, emotional scene in "Vasool Raja ... " where Kamal Hassan interacts with a cancer patient (played by Malayalam actor Jayasurya) in the hospital" begins Krishnan. Those who've watched "Munnabhai MBBS" will be familiar with the sequence Krishnan is referring to.

"After my shot I generally move away from the sets. Only if Kamal's scene is to follow do I hang around. As always an assistant read out the dialogue and Kamal listened intently ... and then he rehearsed his movements, the point he would walk up to, the spot he'll stop at and all that ... " Shots these days are checked out on the monitor and if a rehearsal needs more polish or expression, the cast is called in for a "second or a third monitor" as the film lingo goes.

"For this particular shot Kamal's reaction the first time, when he learns the man on the bed is gone, had everyone on the set in tears ... " recalls Krishnan. "But he wanted to do it again. He checked the lighting and it was decided that the camera this time would rest on him at the end of the scene. When they went for the second monitor, Kamal's projection of grief was equally gripping but very different. The body language too varied a lot from what he had done earlier ... " says Krishnan.

You have witnessed Kamal's absorbing depiction of sorrow in films like "Nayakan," "Mahanadhi" and "Virumaandi." In "Vasool Raja ... " he reveals yet another dimension of agony, Krishnan observes. "The man's commitment is unbelievable. I thought the shot canned was final. But he wanted to have another go at it. Constant improvisation is what he aims at and when he came out with a remarkable show for the third time all of us from director Saran were either dumbstruck or choked ... And while we were still recovering from the impact his enactment had made, Kamal casually walked out with a cheerful smile ... "

Today's young heroes should watch the veteran at work at least for a couple of days, feels Krishnan. "As an actor and technician Kamal is always evolving. And his knowledge goes much beyond the ambit of acting and cinema that you feel humbled in his presence ... " Krishnan's eulogy goes on ...


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