By: Eastern Eye Staff
A remarkable cinematic journey has seen Kamal Haasan go from being an award-winning child actor to becoming one of the greatest and most multi-talented movie stars of all time.
The actor, writer, director, producer, choreographer, singer, lyricist and all-round entertainer has delivered an array of unforgettable films, which have entertained many millions across different generations. Despite him celebrating his 62nd birthday on Monday (7), he is going strong and is still very much in demand.
To celebrate him turning 62, Eastern Eye went back through Haasan’s remarkable life to unearth 62 facts about his extraordinary career and impressive body of work.
1. Kamal Haasan was born into a Tamil family in 1954 to a lawyer father and housewife mother.
2. As a four-year-old, he won the President’s Gold Medal for Best Actor in Tamil film Kalathur Kannamma (1959). He would star in five more films as a child. 3. At the age of eight, Haasan made his debut in the Malayalam movie industry with the drama Kannum Karalum (1962).
4. After being encouraged by his father, the child prodigy joined a theatre company, which helped shape his craft and spark an interest in make-up.
5. The teenager returned to cinema in 1970, working as a crew member and playing a few supporting roles. He also did dance choreography for some major stars.
6. He got his first role as an adult in the Tamil film Maanavan the same year.
7. Haasan played his first serious role in K Balachander’s powerful Tamil hit drama Aval Oru Thodar Kathai (1974).
8. He turned a corner with his second Malayalam film Kanyakumari (1975), which he won him his first regional Filmfare award.
9. In the same year, Haasan played the lead role in Apoorva Raagangal (1975), which won him his first Filmfare award in Tamil.
10. Apoorva Raagangal also won three National Film awards, and marked the cinematic debut of south Indian superstar Rajinikanth in a supporting role.
11. In 1976, Oru Oodhappu Kan Simittugiradhu won Haasan his second consecutive Filmfare (Tamil) Best Actor award.
12. For his role in hit film Avargal (1977), the actor learned ventriloquism. Two years later, Haasan played the lead role in the Telugu remake of the same film, Idi Katha Kaadu (1979).
13. Tamil drama 16 Vayathinile (1977) won Haasan a third consecutive regional Filmfare Best Actor award.
14. In 1977, Haasan starred in his first Kannada film Kokila, the directorial debut of legendary filmmaker and cinematographer Balu Mahendra.
15. In the same year, he appeared in Bengali film Kabita, a remake of his Tamil film Aval Oru Thodar Kathai.
16. In 1978, the versatile star made his Telugu film debut in the cross-cultural romance Maro Charithra.
17. Haasan won his fourth consecutive Filmfare Best Actor award for Tamil thriller Sigappu Rojakkal (1978). This was later remade in Bollywood as Red Rose (1980) with Rajesh Khanna in the lead.
18. By the end of the 1970s, he had six regional Filmfare Best Actor awards, including four consecutive gongs in Tamil.
19. Haasan made his Bollywood debut in smash hit Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981), a remake of his film Maro Charithra.
20. He made his 100th film appearance in Tamil drama Raja Paarvai (1981), which was also his debut as producer. His portrayal of a blind violinist earned him another Filmfare Best Actor award.
21. The actor won the first of his three National Best Actor awards in Tamil drama Moondram Pirai (1982) opposite Sridevi. They both reprised their roles in hit Bollywood remake Sadma (1983).
22. His portrayal of an alcoholic classical dancer in hit drama Sagara Sangamam (1983) won Haasan his second Filmfare Best Telugu Actor award.
23. The film was later dubbed in Malayalam and Tamil, and Hasaan lent his voice for all three versions.
24. Haasan’s performance in Bollywood film Saagar (1985) won him a Filmfare Best Actor award. He was also nominated for the same role in the Best Supporting Actor category, and the film was India’s official entry for the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language category that year. 25. The actor delivered an award-winning turn in Telugu film Swati Mutyam (1986) the following year. It became India’s official entry for the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language category in 1986.
26. The film was remade as Bollywood film Eeshwar (1989), with Anil Kapoor in the lead, and as Kannada drama Swathi Muthu in 2003.
27. Haasan’s performance in iconic film Nayakan (1987) won him his second National Award for Best Actor. The movie was submitted by India for the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language category that year.
28. Nayakan made it into Time Magazine’s all-time 100 movies list in 2005. It was remade in Bollywood as Dayavan (1988) with Vinod Khanna in the lead role.
29. In 1988, Haasan appeared in feature-length hit silent movie Pushpak, which won him another Filmfare Best Actor award (Kannada).
30. He produced and starred in Apoorva Sagodharargal in 1989, playing three roles including a dwarf. The Tamil comedy-drama won him another South Filmfare award for Best Film.
31. Haasan wrote hit Tamil comedy Michael Madhana Kama Rajan (1990), which saw him playing four roles (as quadruplets).
32. He won another South Filmfare Best Actor award for Tamil drama Gunaa (1991).
33. The following year he wrote, produced and starred in super hit Tamil film Thevar Magan (1992). The film was India’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film for the Oscars and won five National Awards, including Best Tamil Film for Haasan.
34. It was remade as Bollywood blockbuster Virasat in 1997, with Anil Kapoor in the lead role.
35. Haasan’s 1994 hit Mahanadi won the National Award for Best Tamil Film.
36. His film Nammavar (1994) also won the National Award for Best Tamil Film.
37. The 1995 blockbuster Subha Sankalpam won Haasan three South Filmfare awards, including Best Telugu Film.
38. Haasan wrote, produced and starred in hit Tamil thriller Kuruthipunal (1995), India’s entry for the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language category.
39. The superstar won his third National Best Actor Award for hit Tamil thriller Indian (1996) and a South Filmfare Best Actor. That was also India’s Best Foreign Language Oscars entry.
40. In 1996, Haasan played a woman in hit Tamil comedy Avvai Shanmughi, a remake of popular Hollywood film Mrs Doubtfire (1993). He later starred in and directed the Bollywood version Chachi 420 (1997).
41. He was the first choice for the lead in super hit film Enthiran in 1998. The project was shelved and later released in 2010 with Rajinikanth in the lead role.
42. Haasan’s second directorial venture Hey Ram (2000) was India’s submission for the Academy Awards that year. He produced, wrote and starred in the movie.
43. Shah Rukh Khan played a supporting role in the film for free because he considered it an honour to work with Haasan.
44. Haasan wrote and starred in Dasavathaaram (2008), which saw him play 10 different roles. It received Best Film awards and Haasan won Best Actor at the Tamil Nadu State Film Awards.
45. He simultaneously shot the Tamil (Unnaipol Oruvan) and Telugu (Eeenadu) versions of hit Bollywood film A Wednesday, opposite superstars Mohanlal and Venkatesh respectively. Both 2009 releases were hits.
46. Haasan produced, directed and starred in Tamil thriller Vishwaroopam (2013), which was released simultanously in Hindi as Vishwaroop. The movie won two National Film Awards for Best Production Design and Best Choreography. 47. He has attended workshops for make-up technicians in the US for several years, including training with top Hollywood make-up artist Michael Westmore, best known for his work in the Star Trek productions.
48. The multi-talented star has also written song lyrics for some of his films, including Hey Ram.
49. He has also done playback singing in Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam and English.
50. Haasan has regularly encouraged his fans to get involved in social causes, including helping to organise blood and eye-donation drives, and donating educational materials to students.
51. Haasan received the first Abraham Kovoor National Award for his humanist activities in 2004. He was appointed project ambassador for Hridayaragam in 2010, which raised funds for an orphanage for HIV/AIDS affected children.
52. In September 2010, Haasan launched a children’s cancer relief fund.
53. He has pledged his product-endorsement income to social causes and donated money he won on a TV game show to charity.
54. His national honours include the Padma Shri in 1990 and the Padma Bhushan in 2014 for his immense contribution to Indian cinema.
55. Haasan has a record 19 Filmfare awards in five languages. He would have won more but asked the organisation not to give him any further awards in 2000.
56. The biggest names in Bollywood have praised Haasan’s contribution to cinema including Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan.
57. Oscar-winning Hollywood director Ang Lee said he was stunned by Haasan’s brilliance and knowledge of films.
58. Seven movies that Haasan has starred in have represented India at the Oscars for Best Foreign Language film, the highest by any Indian actor.
59. Haasan has also trained in classical Indian dance.
60. He was invited to give a keynote address at Harvard University in early 2016 and delivered an inspirational speech.
61. Haasan has directed and stars in a forthcoming comedy Sabaash Naidu (2016) alongside his actress daughter Shruti Haasan. It has been shot in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi simultaneously. 62. The superstar was awarded the Chevalier de L’Ordre Arts et Lettres (The Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) by the French government earlier this year.