Movies

'I didn't get ‘Kadaram Kondan’ because I'm Nasser's son,' says Abi Haasan

Abi Hassan (left) with Akshara Haasan in the movie ‘Kadaram Kondan’

Abi Hassan (left) with Akshara Haasan in the movie ‘Kadaram Kondan’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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Actor plays the second lead alongside Vikram in the Kamal Haasan-production

Abi Mehdi Hassan was a bundle of nerves on what was perhaps one of the biggest nights in his short career so far.

The occasion was the trailer launch of Vikram-starrer, Kadaram Kondan, produced by Raaj Kamal Films International (RKFI). The youngest of veteran actor Nasser’s three sons, Hassan, 21, took to the stage, and was in a mood to express gratitude to the filmmakers who’ve handed him a lead role alongside an established actor. Though, he says, he had prepared a long list of people to thank, when he took the microphone into his hands, Hassan forgot to thank the film’s director Rajesh M Selva.

Vikram didn’t think twice before pointing out the glaring omission right there on the stage. It was doubly embarrassing that Rajesh too opted to crack a joke on the incident, when it was his turn to speak. Hassan could do little but sheepishly smile. “I’m used to getting my leg pulled by Vikram sir. He has always been that way with me while filming Kadaram Kondan,” says Hassan, who opts to pronounce his last name in a way that sounds similar to his illustrious producer Kamal Haasan’s second name.

Learning the trade

Hassan studied until Class X before the film bug bit him. In his words, once he decided he wanted to be an actor, “I didn’t want to waste time” pursuing academics. “I’ve always known I wanted to get into acting,” he adds. So, he enrolled himself in a diploma course in acting at the Blue Ocean Film and Television Academy (more commonly known as BOFTA), where his tutor was someone he knew all too well about.

Abi Hassan (left) with Akshara Haasan in the movie ‘Kadaram Kondan’

Abi Hassan (left) with Akshara Haasan in the movie ‘Kadaram Kondan’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“My father was the head of the department,” says Hassan. After graduating, Hassan, who made his acting debut in the 2012 film Sun Sun Thatha (a film set in Malaysia and directed by his father), started listening to filmmakers’ offers. But he wasn’t too convinced by the scripts that came his way. “So I chose to work as an assistant director with Atlee for Mersal,” he adds.

Mersal was a rewarding experience, not monetarily, but in understanding the film-making grind. “I only had an actor’s perspective of what films were until Mersal happened. But when you’re an assistant director on a salary of ₹10,000 per month, and when, sometimes you may not get the daily allowances after a hard day’s work... (sighs)... that’s when you realise how hard people have it in the film industry. I learnt those things,” he says.

Not that his professional fortunes improved after Mersal. He admits to being “idle” for at least eight months after. And that’s when Kadaram Kondan happened, when Kamal Haasan suggested his name to Rajesh.

“The easiest option to imagine is... ‘Oh, Abi got this opportunity because he is Nasser’s son’... but that was not the case. Yes, Kamal sir and my father are friends. But they (RKFI) had other options for my role from the Telugu industry, and from Mumbai. I had to go through an audition process to land the role,” he says.

The audition was anything but smooth, he adds. Hassan had to endure a period of uncertainty, and was subjected to workshops and tests, where he had to prove his acting chops to Kamal Haasan before the latter was convinced that he is the best fit to play the role of Vasu.

Owning his trail

In the film, Vasu, a doctor, who is married to Akshara Haasan’s character, Athira, finds himself in the middle of a battle of wits, style and strength between Malaysian cops and a mercenary paramilitary commando KK, played by Vikram.

During the trailer launch, Rajesh commented that Hassan is the second lead in the film. What is it like making his debut with an artiste like Vikram? “Growing up, I’ve always imagined that I would want to be an actor like Vikram sir. He is so versatile and he goes great lengths to transform himself into the character he plays,” he says, adding that the senior pro made him feel comfortable while filming. “He adds energy to the sets. He made me feel at home during the outdoor shoot,” he says.

Though he expresses his admiration for Vikram, and professes to being a fan of Vijay, Hassan is adamant that he doesn’t wish to follow in any actor’s footsteps. He wishes to stand out. How?

“It starts with the selection of scripts. I don’t want to be a part of clichéd films the Tamil industry churns out often, where there is always two people, a love angle; then a conflict happens, and eventually the hero prevails. I want to do films closer to reality, and it must be something everyone can relate to,” he says, adding in conclusion that it is one reason why he doesn’t wish or dream of working with a big name director. “It all depends on the script and how they work. It doesn’t matter if it is a first timer or a big name director,” he signs off.

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Printable version | Jul 20, 2019 8:14:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/kadaram-kondan-role-has-nothing-to-do-with-my-fathers-friendship-with-kamal-haasan/article28348888.ece

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