Express News Service
Charuhasan made his acting debut at the age of fifty and went on to win the National Award at the age of fifty-seven. The oldest living Haasan of the family has been a surprise package for the audience since his first film, Uthiripookal. Thirty years as a lawyer, forty years in cinema, and aging hasn’t stopped this octogenarian from playing the lead in the recent Dha Dha 87. Smartly dressed in a green kurta, he opens up about his career as an actor, his new film, the current state of politics and the roles of Rajini and Kamal in it.
Excerts from the conversation:
What made you choose Dha Dha 87, a debutant’s film, over the other projects you have supposedly been getting?
(Laughs) Those are just rumours. I have not been getting any offers. I am not a commercially-viable actor. I didn’t choose Dha Dha 87; the director chose me. I was bedridden when the offer came to me, and Vijay Sri convinced me by saying that the story needed an 87-old-actor to play the role and that they do not have an option except me. We began the film by shooting scenes that had me resting on my bed.
It is said that Dha Dha 87 is a spiritual sequel to Sathya. Did you have apprehensions playing one of the iconic characters of your brother, Kamal Haasan?
To be honest, I have not seen Sathya till now. The film came out during a period I stopped watching films. I’m clueless about its connect to this film. Vijay Sri pressurised me to do this role saying that it’s a film about an aged gangster and that I need not prepare myself much for the role.
Tamil cinema has hardly explored the romance of the elderly, but in Dha Dha 87, you have one.
Those aren’t elaborate sequences. When the director narrated the script, I felt Mrs Saroja would be perfect to play this character. She’s the mother of actor Menaka and the grandmother of Keerthy Suresh, but has no previous connection to cinema. (Laughs) She agreed to do the role because of our friendship.
The film has provocative scenes like the one in which a rapist is burnt alive. What are your thoughts about it, given you’re a lawyer yourself?
There is law enforcement and police department to punish those people. Killing them in real life is impractical. I’m a person who places a lot of faith in policemen. People who break the law are the ones who should be afraid of approaching the police.
In your 30-year-long acting career, you’ve been a part of all four South film industries.
I’m not a master of languages. I struggle to deliver lengthy dialogues even in Tamil. I managed to pull off my roles with the help of prompting by the crew. I neither had the intelligence to choose the right scripts nor was a creative filmmaker. I was just a lawyer who became an actor by accident. I took acting seriously only in the beginning. Tabarana Kathe and Kubi Matthu Iyala, made in Kannada, are the two films I will relish forever as an actor.
Lawyers are generally thought to be good speakers. Did that come in handy in your acting career?
I guess you could say that both professions have that common aspect. When a lawyer enters the court, he sometimes hides the truth and projects lies. An actor too hides his true self and brings out a different person. Both fields are about deceiving people; how convincingly you do that determines your success.
Kamal Haasan has mentioned in several places that he developed the habit of watching foreign language films from you.
My father insisted that we watch at least one film a day. He felt that was the base for acting and encouraged us to become actors. I stopped at the viewing part, but Kamal got brainwashed by my father even before he turned five. If my father hadn’t done that, he would have become a great scholar. However, his thirst for knowledge has always remained the same.
You shared a strong bond with Periyar EV Ramasamy and played an integral part of the Dravidian moment during your early days. Can you tell us about that?
When I was in Trichy, I got exposed to Periyar’s speeches and was completely drawn to his principles. I found honesty in his words; he was a man of complete honesty. I didn’t have the courage to get close with him, but he always treated me as his student. Whenever I failed to visit him due to other commitments, he asked people to bring me saying, “Srinivasan Iyer paiyan yen pa varala, kootitu vanga?” He didn’t even notice that I was actually an Iyengar. He was least bothered by such caste distinctions. Many say he opposed Brahmins; he was actually only against the injustice perpetuated by some of them. After all, he was the one who lent complete support to Rajaji and made him Chief Minister.
While on politics, Kamal Haasan has now taken the plunge.
And he won’t win because of his Brahmin origins. Keeping caste aside, avan gettikaara thaname avana jeikka vidadhu. He has to do all it takes to win the love of the people. Be it Einstein or Rajinikanth, every single human has to fight the odds to earn his place.
Talking about Rajinkanth, his decision of not taking part in the Lok Sabha elections has come under some criticism.
Rajinikanth is a good friend of mine and I strongly feel he won’t enter politics. I believe that he will take back his word soon. He decided to become a politician in the heat of the moment. Once he reached his home after the announcement, he might have thought, “Edhuku namakku vambu, namba seiyara velaya paarthaale seriya irukkume.”
Rajini and Kamal have already seen the peaks of fame and can’t scale up any further through politics; they only risk losing their name and fame by doing so.
Kamal’s decision to quit acting after Indian 2 has shocked all his fans. What’s your take on this announcement, being an old actor yourself?
All the actors, including Kamal, will reach an age where they have to quit acting. Padutha padukkai aagita apram kandippa nadikka mudiyadhu. If he is not going to quit this year, it will certainly happen the next year or the one after. I guess he thought that quitting now would aid his political career.
Source: The New Indian Express