First contribution from a reader like you...

BEST OF KAMALAHASSAN - PART I

Contributed by Namma Ooru Velan from Malaysia

Picking the best 10 of Kamalahassan movies is a herculean task. Undoubtedly the best actor in recent times, he is second only to the great nadigar thilagam. Even this assumption may be wrong as he has superseded Sivaji in some movies and most people are reluctant to admit this, given Sivaji's stature and respect in Tamil moviedom. If you can only see (or possess) ten Tamil movies of Kamalahassan, then surely these are the ten.....

Apoorva Raagangal

Although Kamal has acted as a child star in many movies, K. Balachander introduced Kamal as a hero in this movie. The story is about two families: a widowed father & son on one side and a mother & daughter on another. Father, Major Sundararajan and son, Kamal are separated due to some misunderstandings. Kamal meets paatu vidwan, Srividya and falls in love with her. Without knowing this, Major falls for Srividya's daughter. The story examines the complexities of this relationship. Excellent songs by Vani Jayaram include Yezhu swarangalukkul and Kelviyin naayaganey.

Padhinaaru vayadhinilae

Who can forget the Sappani of Bharathiraaja's debut directorial effort? Kamal took on a totally unglamourous role as the village idiot who is in love with the village beauty, Mayilu, acted convincingly by Sridevi. Mayilu dreams of a knight in shining armour in the sensual number, Senthoora poovey, senthoora poovey... , and ends up with Sappani! Great acting by both the leads, Rajini (as a villain, Parattai), Goundamani and Gandhimathi, makes this movie a classic in Tamil cinema. This movie, in fact set the standards for the future of Tamil movies and these include: Ilayaraja's shot to fame, village stories becoming the norm, and black & white movies becoming history...

Moondraam Pirai

Balu Mahendra's poetry of a movie, got Kamal his first ever BEST ACTOR award. Paired again with Sridevi, Kamal excelled in the role of a lover of a mentally unsound girl, only to lose her when she recovers her sanity. Boasting of beautiful songs, the movie also featured Kannadhasan's last song before his death, Kanney kalaimaaney. This movie was remade in Hindi as Sadma.

Nayagan

Maniratnam's first movie with Kamal hit the bullseye with this Godfather-like movie. Kamal got the National BEST ACTOR Award for the second time and made his northern counterparts, sit up and notice the cinema industry in the south. Another first was achieved when this Tamil movie was India's entry to the Oscar Awards.

Punnagai Mannan

K. Balachander handled the delicate subject of Tamil-Sinhalese rivalry in this first-class movie. Apart from the interesting storyline of what happens when one lover escapes in a death-pact made by both, the movie also showed Kamal's dancing prowess. Ilayaraaja scored a first by introducing computer wizardry to Tamil songs.

Guna

Kamal transformed himself into a psycho alter-hero in this classic movie of all times. Guna remains one of my all-time favourites. In toto, the story just revolves around the two leads. Breathtaking photography, a chilling story and haunting music are the trademarks of this movie. Rumour has it that Kamal spent a couple of months in a mental institution to study his character. Avvalavu thaththroobamaaga senjirukkiraar!

Devar Magan

Kamal teamed up with Sivaji to come up with a gem of a village story of warring factions. Kamal as the new village-head after the death of Sivaji, was a complete transformation from a modern yuppie to a traditional villager! Maybe the director was subtly telling us that Kamal is the legitimate successor to Sivaji! Sivaji, Nasser, Gouthami, Revathy all acted well. Recently remade in Hindi as Virsaat. This may very well be the last movie in which Ilayaraaja had scored all good songs.

Mahaanadhi

Kamal acted in a senior role in this movie, which had no love scenes. Shobana is his daughter who is kidnapped to work in a whorehouse in Calcutta. The emotions examined in this movie were too close for comfort.

Indian

Although many say that there is nothing new in this movie, it won Kamal the National BEST ACTOR Award for the third time. Hollywood's make up artistes were flown in to transform Kamal into a man in his 80's and lo behold he was beyond recognition! Playing a disenchanted, freedom-fighter who takes on a new role against corruption,Kamal is second to no other. A. R. Rahman scored the music for Kamal for the first time and all songs were hits. This movie was dubbed into Hindi as Hindustani.

Avvai Shanmughi

Why would this movie feature in the top ten? It is only a comedy and a remake of an English movie at that. Aah, there in lies the difference Kamalahassan! A totally Indianised Mrs. Doubtfire, hilarity reigned supreme. Kamal donned the robes of a middle-aged madisar maami effortlessly without a shadow of effeminism. (After all, he is the guy who danced Bharatha Natyam and made it seem manly in Salangai Oli!) K. S. Ravikumar's slick direction and splendid performance by Meena, Gemini Ganesan, Manivannan, Delhi Ganesh, Nasar - indeed all those who acted - made this movie a class of its own.