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PETALING JAYA, June 2 — After going on a four-year hiatus to launch his political career, one of India’s finest actors, Kamal Haasan is back.
Doing what he does best and that is thrilling fans with his latest movie, Vikram.
It is expected to hit screens on Friday.
Fans in Malaysia were thrilled that their favourite actor made an appearance at Nu Sentral in Kuala Lumpur for a pre-release event.
The Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) president who launched his political party in 2018 in Chennai, India was delayed in his special appearance but his unwavering die-hard fans relentlessly waited to welcome him.
In an exclusive interview with the Malay Mail, the charismatic actor discussed the buzz surrounding his latest movie, his plans to take his own exquisite fashion line — KH House of Khaddar — to even greater heights with possible stores in Malaysia and Singapore, the glitz and glamour of the 2022 Cannes Film Festival.
He even gave a hint that the time has come for Marudhanayagam — a movie that has been shelved for over 30-years.
Vikram also stars two other popular actors, Vijay Sethupathi and Fahadh Faasil, with a cameo appearance by another popular South Indian hero, Suriya.
It is Kamal’s first release since 2018’s Vishwaroopam 2.
The pre-release event in Malaysia was spearheaded by DMY Creation Sdn Bhd — a major distributor of International Films, with the focus being mainly on Hindi and Tamil cinema.
Kamal during an all-exclusive interview with the Malay Mail at the Le Meridien Hotel, Kuala Lumpur on Sunday morning. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Fans will ensure Vikram’s success
The mark of a veteran is when one hardly feels any jitters when the anticipation for his latest film is running high besides returning after a years-long hiatus.
“For us filmmakers, the excitement and palpitations ends when we see and look at the final product. If we are satisfied we will leave it to the audience and fully trust them,” he said.
“We don’t worry about how much money the film will make. We believe that it is a good enough product to go out and that’s all for us … so our concern will always be about getting that right. Waiting for Friday has never been my game.”
On Monday, Vikram bagged the number one spot in the most anticipated film list on IMDB — a popular movie database website.
When asked what made him decide to collaborate with director Lokes Kanagaraj for the film, Kamal said the two movies the young director had made at that time were enough to impress him.
“I have always believed in young talents. What he did with Managaram and Khaithi (Lokesh’s first two movies) was good. Both films did well and that’s a good enough reason.
“New talents … they have more passion and they won’t do it for contracts and they go beyond the call of duty and go the extra mile for their film,” he said.
When asked about the surreal hype surrounding the high-octane thriller and if it will shape the type of movie he will do in the future, Kamal said: “As far as my career is concerned every film I do has to leave one mark or another.
“Either it has to be qualitatively good or commercially good or both, we will be happy if both happens simultaneously,” he said.
The star wishes he could go back to being a fan
Kamal is known for his versatility and has done impressive work as an actor, director, dancer, writer, lyricist, playback singer, choreographer, politician, and even hosting reality TV show.
But the one thing that he misses doing is simply being a movie fan.
“What I enjoy the most is what I’m losing grip of which is being that unbiased audience who can look in the centre of the frame. Once you become a technician you start looking at the corners of the frame.
“Once you become a technician you don’t look at a building and say what a beautiful building, we start looking at how they built it, where is the chandelier or how many floors and such … we start looking at the wrong things. So I want to get back the awe of a common audience.
“It’s something all filmmakers will reach at a particular stage, so I think that’s what I need. Which is to understand a movie from the mind of an audience.”
Kamal said as much as people think he has no regrets as he has had a spectacular career so far, the truth is that he has many regrets over opportunities that he had missed in the past.
“I have missed so many things like even other people’s good films and I will wish that I had done that. There are many good business opportunities that I have missed,” he said while recalling his career.
Kamal 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.
Amritha Ram (right) started working with Kamal in 2018, and the dynamic duo has been redefining fashion on their own terms. Together they have conceptualised KH House of Khaddar. — Picture courtesy of KH House of Khaddar
Plans to take KH House of Khaddar to greater heights
In November last year, Kamal launched his fashion line KH House of Khaddar and it has been making waves ever since.
During the interview with Malay Mail, Kamal dropped hints that physical stores of his fashion brand will likely see store openings in Singapore and Malaysia.
The actor spoke passionately about his fashion brand and even introduced his stylist — Chennai’s popular costume designer and celebrity stylist Amritha Ram halfway through the interview.
The actor wore his own fashion brand during the red carpet event at the Cannes Film Festival last month and his outfits became the talk of the town.
Kamal, when asked about the possibility of opening up stores in Malaysia and Singapore, said: “We are thinking of it and the designer is here with me.”
He then said the reason why he ‘killed’ it at Cannes was because of Amritha who he described as the ‘killer’ behind his outfits.
Amritha is currently following Kamal on all his pre-release events and making sure the powerhouse actor looks dapper in all his public appearances.
Kamal said his intention with KH House of Khaddar was not just the fashion side of it but was aimed to uplift the lives of handloom weavers in India.
The brand prides and focuses on modernising Khadi to suit the style of the new generation.
KH House of Khaddar even made it to the Paris Fashion Week, and Kamal is hoping to put the ‘Made in India’ brand on the global fashion map.
“See, I came into this business with a reason and that reason is Khaddar. Khaddar is a symbol of Indian independence and my father died wearing Khaddar and nothing else. So I thought it could be made more fashionable and acceptable by the Z generation.
“Also this is not run of the mill, it is done by various weavers from all around India … These are neglected weavers and they have great art in their hands and they can do many things. You can make jeans and corduroy out of Khaddar,” he said.
Kamal had many times repeated that he is emotionally connected to the fabric, as his father, who was a lawyer and part of the Independence movement, used to wear Khaddar to court.
He later highlighted the fact that KH House of Khaddar is eco-friendly and that the fabric is hand-dyed using organic dyes and leaves zero chemical waste and zero carbon.
Kamal on stage having a moment with his fans as they cheered him on at Nu Sentral, on Sunday. Together with him is DMY’s founder and chairman Datuk Mohamed Yussof. — Picture By Devan Manuel
The time has come for Marudhanayagam
Kamal said his immediate focus after finishing with Vikram’s pre-release events would be to start on his next project where he will be making a film with Mahesh Narayanan of Malik fame.
Mahesh Narayanan has worked as an editor in Kamal Haasan’s Vishwaroopam and its sequel Vishwaroopam 2.
“Mahesh did a film called Malik and it did very well in Malayalam and he is a great technician who has worked with me as an editor before. So we will be starting work on our new project soon. Mahesh is a very talented gentleman,” he said.
Kamal then gave an update on two fan favourites — Indian 2 and Marudhanayagam.
Indian 2 has been on hold since 2020 after a crane with heavy-duty light came crashing down on the location of the shoot, killing three people and leaving 10 injured.
“I’m still waiting for director Shankar to start shooting again, we will announce the developments soon,” he said.
Marudhanayagam is an unfinished Indian historical drama directed and produced by Kamal Haasan under his Raaj Kamal Films International banner. The script was co-written by Haasan, along with novelist Sujatha, and the pair started work on the project in late 1991.
The film went through various production troubles and eventually an international company that had been co-producing the film, backed out. Following many delays, the film has not continued production despite numerous attempts at reviving the project
“To complete Maruthanayagam, it will need much more the amount more than what we spent to make Vikram, so we will wait but the time has come,” he said.
Speaking about his ever-tight schedule and how he balances playing the many roles in cinema and entertainment and at the same time running a major political party in Chennai, Kamal’s answer was pretty amusing when he said he feels like he is on a paid holiday.
“See, burnout happens when you are doing something that is not of your interest and that is why you would feel overworked and underpaid.
“But for me, I have been on a paid holiday for the past 35 years. So there is no chance of burnout, yes my health will give way or my age can come in the way but my enthusiasm will never fly,” he said.
DMY’s founder and chairman Datuk Mohamed Yussof had prior to Kamal’s arrival said that he was happy and excited to give Kamal fans a chance to see and greet the actor in person.
In a short video message released on Tuesday, Mohamed apologised to the fans over the delay in Kamal’s appearance in Nu Sentral which he said was due to unforeseen circumstances, and vowed that he will ensure no such delays will not happen in the future.
He, however, did not elaborate on what led to the delay. Since it was established, DMY has to date distributed 231 major films including its latest release Vikram.
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