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The many, many, MANY controversies of Kamal Haasan

By S Saraswathi
Last updated on: May 07, 2015 19:05 IST
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Kamal Haasan's list of controversies is almost as long as his impressive filmography.
ne of the greatest actors of our time, Kamal Haasan, has courted quite a few controversies in recent times.

For several decades now, religious and political organisations, right wing and pro-Tamil groups have been objecting to his films, mostly on trivial grounds, like the title or lyrics. 

Here's a roundup of Haasan’s films that have got into trouble over the years:

Thevar Magan

Image: Kamal Haasan in Thevar Magan.

Thevar Magan, one of Kamal Haasan’s earliest films, was a huge success and won five National Awards, including one for Best Feature Film in Tamil.

Kamal received the award as producer of the film. 

The film was criticised for equating violence with the Thevar community. 

Hey Ram

Image: Kamal Haasan and Shah Rukh Khan in Hey Ram

Hey Ram won three National Awards and was chosen as India's official entry to the Oscars in the Best Foreign Film category.

It was written, directed and produced by Kamal Haasan.

The Tamil/Hindi bilingual was based on the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse.

It created a huge outcry among some political parties, who insisted that the film portrayed Gandhi in a negative light. 


Image: Kamal Haasan in Virumandi 

Kamal's super hit film Virumandi was released in 2004. It was earlier titled Sandiyar

Dr K Krishnasamy, leader of Pudhiya Tamizhagam, a caste-based political organisation in Tamil Nadu, felt that the title was derogatory and would encourage caste-related violence. 

Kamal was forced to change the title.

A decade later, in August 2014, director Chozha Devan released a film titled Sandiyar and no organisation, religious or political, raised even a squeak of protest.

Mumbai Express

Image: Movie poster of Mumbai Express

The following year, when yet another of his films was targeted, Kamal remained firm. 

This time, pro-Tamil groups were against the use of an English title for a Tamil film. The film was Mumbai Express.

Despite the ludicrous protests, Kamal refused to back down and released the film with the same name.

Manmadan Ambu (2010)

Image: Kamal Haasan and Meghana in Manmadan Ambu

Manmadan Ambu, directed by K S Ravikumar, was criticised for the lyrics of the song Kamal Kavidhai, penned by Kamal. 

Some right wing groups felt that the song was too obscene.  It mattered little to them that the Censor Board had cleared it. 

Though Kamal was unhappy, the producers, Udhayanidhi Stalin's Red Giant Movies, fearing trouble, bowed to pressure and deleted the song.

Vasool Raja MBBS (2004)

Image: Kamal Haasan in Vasool Raja MBBS 

When Vasool Raja MBBS released, it was the turn of the medical community to be offended.

K R Balasubramanian, president of the Tamil Nadu Medical Council filed a petition objecting to the title because according to him it ridiculed the medical fraternity.

Viswaroopam (2013)

Image: Kamal Haasan and Pooja Kumar in Viswaroopam

The controversy over the 2013 spy thriller Viswaroopam got so out of hand that Kamal Haasan threatened to move out of Tamil Nadu to a more secular state. 

First it was the title of the film that offended the Hindu Makkal Katchi (a political party), which believed that Kamal, an inspiration and role model to many, should refrain from using a Sanskrit title for his film.

This was followed by protests from the Theatre Owners’ Association, who were against Kamal’s decision to release the film on the DTH (direct-to-home) platform. They felt this would result in major revenue losses for them.

 Later some Muslim groups sought a ban on the film claiming it hurt their religious sentiments and would destroy social harmony in the state.

The Tamil and Telugu versions of the film were released worldwide on January 25, 2013 while the Hindi version hit the screens on February 1, 2013. 

After much drama and a delay of nearly two weeks, the film was released in Tamil Nadu on February 7, 2013.

Uttama Villain (2015)

Image: Kamal Haasan in Uttama Villain

The recently released Uttama Villain too had its share of problems.

When the ‘first look’ poster was released, depicting Theyyam art, there was speculation that it was copied from the work of a French photographer Eric Lafforgue. 

Then, shortly before the release, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad filed a petition seeking a stay on the release because the lyrics of the song, Iraniyan Naadagam, penned by Kamal, would offend the followers of Lord Vishnu.  

There was further delay due to some money trouble between the financier and the producer.  Unfortunately, the issue was not resolved in time and all the shows on the first day had to be cancelled.


Image: Gauatami and Kamal Haasan in Papanasam

Papanasam, the remake of Malayalam super hit Drishyam is scheduled to release later this year, but also ran into trouble. 

A Malayalam scriptwriter alleged that the film was copied from his story published as a book in May 2013 called Oru Mazhakalathu

However, in March this year, the court dismissed the suit filed by the scriptwriter. 

Viswaroopam II

Image: Kamal Haasan in Viswaroopam II

The sequel to the controversial Viswaroopam is in the pipeline and it remains to be seen what Kamal Haasan’s detractors find to throw at him this time.

But controversy or no controversy, people throng to the theatres to watch this brilliant actor on screen and that is Kamal Haasan’s greatest victory. 

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S Saraswathi in Chennai