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‘We are not working together'

SANGEETHA DEVI DUNDOO
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Passing by Kamal Hassan dismisses speculations of acting alongside Rajnikanth in Shankar's next project

Talking business Kamal Hassan Photo: Mohammed Yousuf
Talking business Kamal Hassan Photo: Mohammed Yousuf

N ews travels fast, especially when it is speculative. Kamal Hassan vouches for it. “To the best of my knowledge, I am not doing a film with Mr. Rajnikanth,” he laughs, reacting to the buzz that director Shankar's next will bring together both the superstars after a span of 30 years. “I met Shankar this morning and if he wanted to make a movie with both of us together, he would have asked my consent,” Kamal Hassan says with a smile. He pauses and reminisces, “We live in times where I can spread the news that I am dead even when I am alive. It has happened before. Thirty years ago, Yesudas and I received condolence calls at our respective houses after reports that we had passed away. We both have been living on a 30-year lease.”

Kamal Hassan was in the city to announce the FICCI Media and Entertainment Business Conclave, to be held in Hyderabad on December 1 and 2. As the chairperson of the conclave, he has his task cut out but is careful not to build expectations. “I can only be a facilitator for thinking minds to come together and in the process gleam some information for myself. The conclave will not be about presenting issues quickly but rather deliberating on the issues. We are worried about additional taxes being levied on the industry. There will be focus on convincing more banks to come forward to invest in the entertainment industry. We also hope to bring performing arts under the entertainment umbrella, not merely as a revenue model but as an integral part of our culture,” he elaborates. The conclave will also delve on how regional television channels can further their brand value.

He feels corporates entering the regional industries will make a tangible difference only when they understand the language of cinema. “An MBA, coat and a tie alone won't do. You need to know your trade. For instance, Ronnie Screwvala of UTV understands cinema. That kind of knowledge can help filmmakers coming up with new ideas,” he cites.

Kamal Hassan's own remake of UTV's A Wednesday worked both critically and commercially in Tamil as Unnaipol Oruvan but elicited divided reviews as Eenadu in Telugu. “It is an isolated case where an idea has worked in one language and not in the other. But several other movies, dating back to Marocharitra and Devdas, have worked. These Telugu films had a dream run in Tamil Nadu. A good concentrated effort can break all parochial borders,” he says.

As for his next film Manmadan Ambu, also starring Madhavan and Trisha, he says, “Expect a lot of entertainment. It is a romantic comedy.” After Hey Ram and Virumaandi, he has penned the lyrics for the film. There is also Thalaivan Irukkiran in the pipeline. He quells talks that his dream project Marudhanayakam is being revived. “I aimed the film at the international market without international finance. I thought I could pull it off myself and that was its basic flaw. People who were backing me internationally backed out for unknown reasons and the project was stalled,” he rues.

Kamal Hassan revels in infusing literature in the medium of cinema and says, “I try to do that with most of my films. There are many talented writers from whom I get to learn a lot.” The demise of well-known author and screenplay writer Sujata has created a vacuum, he points out. “I had asked Sujata, when he was alive, who else can offer the mix of science, literature and humour like he does and Sujata cited the example of E.Ra. Murugan, who is a dear friend now. Jaya Mohan is another talented writer whose works I have enjoyed reading.”

Finally, talking of Shruti Hassan, he says, “As an actor, she has potential. As a singer, she is excellent having been trained in LA. I am not saying this because I am her father.”

SANGEETHA DEVI DUNDOO

An MBA, coat and a tie alone won't do. You need to know your trade.

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