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Kamal Haasan: I am happy but not content

Last updated on: January 7, 2013 18:25 IST

Kamal Haasan: I am happy but not content

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Sonil Dedhia in Mumbai

Kamal Haasan is currently running from pillar to post to get a glitch-free release for his fourth directorial venture Vishwaroopam, set to release on January 11.

Thanks to the star actor's ambitious plans to have a DTH (direct-to-home) release for his new film before it opens in theatres, and the subsequent conflict between him and multiplexes, film distributors, Haasan has constantly been in news.

Known as someone who dilligently avoids giving interviews, it was quite a thrill to spot the star at a suburban five star hotel, in coversation with a group of journalists.

Sensing a rare opportunity for an interview, I approach his manager, who looks far from pleased with my request. 

I'm taken by surprise when the actor readily agrees for an exclusive interview.

Haasan greets me with a 'hi.' He looks refreshingly young in his casual attire. We shake hands.

In the interview that follows, the actor/director talks about the DTH release of Vishwaroopam, why he is confident that his film will earn more than Rs 150 crore at the box office, and takes stock of his film career so far.

Your past few films haven't done well at the box office. Is that the reason you don't have any takers for Vishwaroopam?

It's a false notion that no one is ready to buy and distribute our film. In the South Indian film industry, Vishwaroopam is one of the most anticipated releases of the year.

I could cash in on it and could have made huge profits but I was willing to take the risk of releasing it on DTH first because this move is going to change the movie-viewing experience.


Image: Movie poster of Vishwaroopam


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'I don't look at a film according to its box office collection'

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When actors today are in the race to make Rs 100 crore at the box office, you opted to release your film on DTH, thereby taking a big risk.

If my film doesn't make more than Rs 150 crore, it will be a big failure for me. If it makes anything less than that, I would call it a weak attempt.

Not to sound arrogant or defiant, but I am sure that the film will cross this figure in the first week itself.

Most stars today have turned producers. Is the magic of cinema fading away as stars concentrate more on box office returns than on scripts?

All stars are businessmen. Once you decide to become a star, you are talking about money, fame, and being successful.

It's not about the content or the artistry or skills. It was always the collection that mattered.

If a film wouldn't collect money, how would a producer or the director or the actor make another film? 

The reason it took us so many weeks to collect a good amount of money was because we had less number of theatres and the distribution system was small and weak. If you ask my opinion, I don't look at a film according to its box office collection.


Image: A scene from Vishwaroopam

Tags: DTH

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'The government of Kerala is supporting our DTH plans'

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Theatre owners and distributors in Tamil Nadu have decided not to screen Vishwaroopam as you are releasing the film first on DTH.

We already have 400 theatres in Tamil Nadu alone. In Andhra Pradesh, the producer-director Dasari Narayan Rao has taken the distribution rights of the film.

The government of Kerala is supporting our DTH plans. I think we've received a positive response and I am sure people will support me in my decision.

PVR has decided to boycott the film in North India.

I don't have any issues with them. I had an agreement with PVR that if I don't release the film on DTH in North India, I will have their full support for a theatrical release.

So I decided to release the film on DTH only in South India. Suddenly, PVR changed their mind and said they won't give me their theatres even if I did DTH only in the South. So we had to call off the deal.


Image: A scene from Vishwaroopam


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'We couldn't work out a DTH deal in the US'

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Is it true that you wanted to have a DTH premiere in the USA too?

Yes, but unfortunately we couldn't work out a DTH deal in the USA in time.

A DTH premiere of a new film has not happened anywhere in the world and I would have loved to do it.

We are having a premiere in Los Angeles and I am taking all my technicians along to show them that their work is nothing less than Hollywood standards. We have got confirmations of theatres all across Malaysia and Singapore.

It is said that Sonakshi Sinha opted out of the film citing delays in the schedule as the reason?

I was supposed to act in some films but eventually I didn't because of various reasons. These things happen in films.

Sometimes you don't like a story, or are not getting paid the right amount. In Sonakshi's case, we were not able to manage the dates.


Image: A scene from Vishwaroopam


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'I am a politician just like you are'

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Apart from you, there aren't any big names attached to the film.

This film is too big and stars cannot be bigger than the film. I am not against stars but I didn't have the patience to work with stars in this film.

As a director, I wanted to make a film that works around the schedule and not scheduled around the work. I am a star myself thanks to the people.

Would you say that Vishwaroopam is the most ambitious project of your life?

Yes, it is the costliest and the most ambitious project of my life.

I could achieve this dream only because of the technicians who worked so hard.

Do you still audition for a role?

I audition for almost every role. I get into auditions even when I am just producing a film. Not that someone would fire me (laughs) but I keep trying various tests and keep working till I learn the job.

Most superstars in the south eventually enter politics. Do you have any plans to do so?

I have always been a politician. It is just that I don't do it from Parliament. I am a politician just like you are (smiles).

I speak about my opinions and try to comment on certain issues. I don't want to enter Parliament in the name of service to the people.


Image: A scene from Vishwaroopam


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'I am always dissatisfied'

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After spending five decades in the industry, do you think you have achieved everything you aspired for?

If I had a sense of satisfaction, I wouldn't be working and giving this interview.

There is a lot to be learnt and I am always dissatisfied. I am happy but not content.

I don't think I have done anything worthy of being called an achiever. Whatever I have done so far is all an endeavour to enhance my skills and become a better artist. I live by that necessity.

What scares you most about stardom?

What scares me most is when I lose the need to perform or the excitement of creativity. But I will live with it too because I am sure I will find something else to do.


Image: A scene from Vishwaroopam

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'Sarika and I don't communicate on a daily basis'

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Your daughter Shruti Haasan's career has not been very successful. Do you think it would have been different had you launched her?

I am very glad I didn't launch her. I want her to walk back home as a star. I want her to be known for her talent and not as Kamal Haasan's daughter.

As a father, right from the beginning, I wanted her to make her own way and I should not have a hand in that.

I want her to be known as a talent and then I will have two stars (Kamal and Shruti) under one banner.

Shruti wanted to pursue music and didn't want to act. My second daughter (Akshara Haasan) also decided to do something on her own.

(Ex-wife) Sarika has done a qawaali number in Bejoy Nambiar's new film David. Have you seen it?

No, I haven't seen it. We do not communicate on a daily basis. The only thing that I am concentrating on right now is Vishwaroopam.


Image: Kamal Haasan with daughter Shruti


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'I would rather make a film with an original script'

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A lot of South films are being remade in Hindi today. Are you open to remakes?

I made a lot of Hindi films in Tamil in the past. Today, I think I would rather make a film with an original script.

I don't have any problems if any of my films are remade. In fact I would be jealous if it is going to be better than my film (laughs).

What next?

I am in the process of making Vishwaroopam 2. We have finished the script and will soon start shooting for the film.

We will have the same star cast because we are starting the sequel from where we left the first one. It will be a continuation.

The film will be shot in India; Vishwaroopam was mostly shot abroad. You will understand why it is shot in India when you see the film.


Image: A scene from Vishwaroopam


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