You know Kamal Hassan is in the house when deafening screams echoe off the walls. World Trade Centre was reverberating in that way on Thursday night.
With bodyguards on both sides, the Vishwaroopam star, accompanied by his find, actress Pooja Kumar, stopped briefly to shake hands with his frenzied fans but was whizzed past the red carpet into a lounge.
In town to attend Star Oasis, an event held to celebrate 100 years of Indian cinema, Hassan warded off media interaction until he had met with his colleagues including heartthrob Madhavan and Khushboo.
“You want to know about the biggest stories in Indian cinema, then look at Mr Bachchan or Mr Kamal Hassan,” said Madhavan. “Whether your films work or not, they have their audience’s love for the last 50 years. That’s success for you,” he said, looking towards his much older colleague Hassan at the other end of the room.
But the subject of his adoration, who completed 50 years in Indian cinema in 2010, doesn’t dwell much on his achievements.
“I have a long way to go,” Hasaan told tabloid!. “My contribution was limited. Till now, I was making a living out of it. It’s only now I am trying to give something back to the industry that gave me whatever I have today.”
Hassan, who made his debut as a child artist in 1959 in Kalathoor Kannamma, has worked in over 200 films, bagging the National Award four times and taking home 25 Best Actor trophies during his reign. He is on the cusp of releasing his ambitious spy thriller, Vishwaroopam. Known for his radical career moves, Hassan had originally planned to premiere the movie on direct-to-gome platforms a day ahead of its theatrical release. However, the plan was dropped after some theatre owners and distributors protested. Any regrets?
“I don’t regret decisions taken. Now let’s see where that decision takes me. The people are clear about welcoming good stuff. It’s the vested interests who are very worried. I don’t blame them. Success is everyone’s friend. That’s what I am hoping to achieve,” said Hassan. After much debate, Vishwaroopam will now release on DTH platform on February 2, a week after its theatrical release in Tamil and Telugu. The Hindi version of the film, Vishwaroop, will release in north India on February 1.
However, it wasn’t Vishwaroopam that dominated the glittering celebrations. For many rising actors, such as Laxmi Rai and Neetu Chandra, performing in front of legendary actors such as Hassan, Khushboo and Prabhu Ganesan was the high point of their evening.
“They have been our idol and inspiration. I am slightly nervous but I can’t wait to perform,” said Neetu Chandra, a Bollywood actress who has worked in three south Indian films.
As Hassan’s Vishwaroopam heroine Kumar, who he discovered over Skype, puts it: “Just being in his presence is an incredible feeling.”
“I feel bad that we don’t have events like these to educate movie fans on how much Tamil cinema has achieved. I feel so small right now, but I am so proud to be a part of Indian film industry.” Madhavan on Star Oasis and 100 years of Indian cinema.
“If there are many more miles to go then this is a milestone. If there’s another 100 years ahead of us, we are just midway.” said Hassan when asked whether 100 years of Indian cinema is a milestone or a statistic.