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Salangai Oli (1983) (left)

A showcase for Kamal Haasan's Bharata Natyam skills, in the film dubbed from the Telugu Sagara Sangamam, the incomparable K Vishwanath (who had earlier directed the critically acclaimed Shankarabharanam) wove a classical tale of true love. Kamal is the old trenchant dance critic, the gorgeous Jayapradha his muse from the past whose present is far from perfect. S P Shailaja is her daughter sent to Kamal for tutoring in dance, but who cannot talk about her mother's life. After all these years just talking about the film still gives me gooseflesh.

Apoorva Raagangal (1975)

You could see his Adam's apple bob up and down while playing the mridangam and yearning for an older Srividya, who plays a classical singer. Her daughter, btw, is in love with Kamal's father. This was director K Balachander at his best. This was the movie that put Kamal in orbit, after tinkering around the edges of filmdom doing films that went nowhere. The film also saw the debut of another actor, Shivajirao Gaekwad, renamed Rajnikant. No wonder the two reserve their best for KB.

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