Popularly known as Ulaganayagan (Universal Hero), Kamal Haasan is an iconic Indian actor, writer, director, producer, choreographer, lyricist, dancer, and playback singer. He debuted as a child actor in 1960 with Kalathur Kannamma
and has since graced the silver screen in more than 200 films in a career span of over six decades. The actor as of 2018 has won 4 National Film Awards, 19 Filmfare Awards, and holds an unparalleled record of starring in a maximum number of films that have been India`s nomination at the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film.
For his contributions to Indian cinema, the actor was conferred with the coveted Kalaimamani in 1979, Padma Shri in 1990, Padma Bhushan in 2014. In 2016, the French government honoured Kamal with the prestigious Chevalier de L`Ordre Arts et Lettres (The Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters). He has produced and directed several critically acclaimed films under his home production Raaj Kamal Films International. The actor launched his political party Makkal Needhi Maiam on 21st February 2018 with a vision to create and sustain a secular state of affairs in Tamil Nadu.EARLY LIFE
Kamal Haasan was born in a typical Tamil-Brahmin Iyengar family in Ramanathapuram district. His father, D Srinivasan worked as a criminal lawyer and his mother Rajalakshmi was a housewife. The actor is the youngest of the four siblings, his two elder brothers, Charuhasan and Chandrahasan are both lawyers and his sister Nalini is a classical dancer. The star actor completed his primary education in his hometown, Paramakudi, Ramanathapuram district, before eventually moving to Madras (now Chennai) to pursue higher education. While attending college, the actor was interested in films and fine arts and his father encouraged him to pursue a career of his choice. PERSONAL LIFE
Kamal married dancer Vani Ganapathy and after being together 10 years, the couple divorced in 1988. After that, he began living together with actor Sarika
and the duo married after the birth of their first child, Shruti Haasan
, who works as an actor and singer. Their younger daughter, Akshara Haasan
, also works as an actor. Kamal`s second marriage did not last either. The duo filed for divorce in 2002, which was granted in 2004. The actor has always been open about his views that he does not believe in the institution of marriage and since, both his marriages failed, he moved in with actress Gautami Tadimalla. The duo parted ways after living together for 13 years.DEBUT & INITIAL YEARS
Kamal Haasan was a child prodigy and began acting at the tender age of three. His very first screen performance in Kalathur Kannamma (1960) won him the President`s Gold Medal for Best Actor. As a child actor, he went to star in five other films and after a seven-year hiatus, he returned and started working as an assistant to choreographer Thankappan. His first role as an adult came in K. Balachander`s Arangetram (1973), which was a huge success and the duo eventually went on to work together in over 40 more films. Balachander`s films were instrumental in shaping Kamal`s career and helped him in attaining a status of PAN India superstar with successful films in multiple languages like Apoorva Raagangal (1975 - Tamil), Maro Charitra (Telugu - 1978), and Ek Duuje Ke Liye (Hindi - 1981).
In 1974, he did his first lead role in the film titled Kanyakumari (Malayalam), for which he won his first Filmfare Award. He did almost 16 films as a supporting actor between 1973-75. After that, he only appeared in the lead roles and gave a string of hits like Manmadha Leelai, Oru Oodhappu Kan Simittugiradhu, Avargal, 16 Vayathinile, and Sigappu Rojakkal. In 1977, he also made his Kannada debut with Kokila. The film was a huge blockbuster in both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. By the end of the 1970s, Kamal had six Best Actor Filmfare Awards.BREAKTHROUGH & BEYOND
In 1981, he appeared in Raja Paarvai. The film was his 100th as an actor and 1st as a producer. Though the film was a disaster, Kamal won a Best Actor Filmfare award for the same. His next major hit was Balu Mahendra`s Moondram Pirai, which won him the first of his three National Awards. The film was remade into Hindi as Sadam (1983) with Kamal, Sridevi, and Silk Smitha reprising their roles from the original version. The film further cemented Kamal`s position in Bollywood after the stupendous success of Ek Duuje Ke Liye opposite Rati Agnihotri. His next notable Hindi film was Saagar (1985) co-starring Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia, which earned him Filmfare nomination for both Best Actor as well as Best Actor in a Supporting Role. The film was also India`s official entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
After doing a couple of Hindi films like Geraftaar and Dekha Pyar Tumhara, he left Bollywood and gave all his time to South Indian film industry. The year 1986 saw Kamal giving back-to-back Telugu super hits films like Oka Radha Iddaru Krishnulu and Swati Mutyam. The next year he appeared in Mani Ratnam`s Nayakan and he won his second National Film Award. The film also featured in TIME`s list of `All-Time 100 Best Films`. The silent dark comedy film Pushpaka Vimana and Apoorva Sagodharargal were among his other notable films of his that were released in the 1980s. By the end of the decade, Kamal Haasan was a bonafide PAN India superstar who had won Best Actor Filmfare award in Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu.
Kamal continued his top form with films like Michael Madana Kama Rajan (1990), Gunaa (1991), Singaravelan (1992), and Thevar Magan (1992), which was remade in Hindi as Virasat (1997) starring Anil Kapoor, Tabu, Pooja Batra and Amrish Puri. The back-to-back bilingual films Kuruthipunal (1995) and Indian (1996) were trendsetters and swashbuckling hits. The latter went to break several industry records and Kamal won his third National Film Award. Both the films were India`s official entries for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In 2000, he directed his second directorial Hey Ram
, which featured an ensemble cast that included Shah Rukh Khan, Hema Malini, Rani Mukerji, Girish Karnad, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Saurabh Shukla, Nassar, and Atul Kulkarni. The film performed well at the overseas market but was a flop at the Indian box office. RECENT YEARS
The comedy-drama Thenali featuring Jyothika, Jayaram, and Devayani helmed by K. S. Ravikumar was a money-spinner. His major hits in the 2000s were Anbe Sivam (2003), Vasool Raja MBBS (2004), and Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu (2006). The year 2008 saw Haasan playing 10 roles in Dasavathaaram. His next was Unnaipol Oruvan, which was simultaneously made in Telugu as Eeenadu. Both were the remakes of Hindi film A Wednesday!. While Kamal reprised the role of Naseeruddin Shah, Mohanlal and Venkatesh Daggubati reprised the role of Anupam Kher in Tamil and Telugu simultaneously.
He directed Vishwaroopam
(2013) and it ran into a lot of controversies upon its release. Kamal had three releases in 2015 namely Uttama Villain
, Papanasam, and Thoongaa Vanam. In 2018, he directed Vishwaroopam 2
, which is both a prequel and sequel as the story is set partly before and partly after Vishwaroopam. The sequel to Indian, titled Indian 2
and the much-delayed film Sabaash Naidu
, where Kamal will reprise the role of Balram Naidu a spin-off of one of the characters which he played in Dasavathaaram are among his future projects. His 2019 release includes Kadaram Kondan. His other notable works include Vikram
(2022), Sabaash Naidu (2023) and Indian 2 (2023).