Kamal Haasan gets candid with Roshmila Bhattacharya on marriage, cinema and his much-awaited film Dasavatharam
Your daughter, Shruti, is all gung-ho about an acting career now. Did you push her towards acting?
I've never pushed her, not even into a swimming pool. Don't you want to launch her yourself? I do but she didn't want to act earlier. Now, I think she's on herway to changing her mind.
What about Akshara?
She has to finish her education first.Even Shruti completed high school before going to the US for a degree in music. During that trip to the US, Gautami and she seemed to have bonded well and nowshe has accepted her as a surrogate mother. It didn't happen suddenly, but steadily and gradually. I was watching them every day without imposing my choice.
I've seen parts of it. Sarika's good.
Do you meet her?
After you separated, she's returned to acting. Did you stop her from acting when you were married?
No, it was entirely her decision.
Do you ever meet your first wife Vani Ganapathy?
Both the times when you separated from your wives, there was another woman involved. Sarika led to your split with Vani and Simran caused a rift between Sarika and you.
Unless it's a gay marriage, there's always another woman involved.
You think it would have been better if you hadn't married Sarika?
Yes. I've never believed in marriage. It was only because I loved the women that I went through it to please them. Marriage, like religion for me, is an imposition.
Did you marry Sarika because of the children?
I don't want to blame anyone. All I can say is that marriage is a folly that is slowly becoming redundant. I have four vaccination marks. In our time, they were a necessary ordeal. It's different today. I'm hopeful that one day like the vaccinations, the institution of marriage too will go away.
Planning a comeback to Hindi films?
Oh definitely. There's plenty of money. But I'm a sucker for applause. I want to reach out to a bigger market.
You've been trying that for years since Ek Duuje Ke Liye. Ever felt you were victimised?
It would be easy to blame that on lapses. People are happy to see you fall, that's the attitude anywhere in the world. But (Winston) Churchill didn't win the war because (Adolf) Hitler gave up.
So where do you think you went wrong? Do you plan to shift base to Mumbai?
I didn't try hard enough. To succeed here, I needed to live in Mumbai, make films consistently, not have a release every four-five years. Still, the audience was kind, they didn't forget me.
I can't do that. I have an audience down south. But India is my country and I'd like to entertain the country as a whole. There was a stage when the tag of a 'great actor' was just inches away.. and then it slipped away. That's a point of view. My audience down south and overseas have given me a status.
It's being said that your next film will be with Walt Disney studio.
We're in talks.
For an animation film?
Oh no, I'm acting in it..(laughs ). So unless they animate me, it'll be very much a feature film. I'm juggling with quite a few ideas. But right now my focus is Dasavatharam .
Sanjeev Kumar had played nine roles in Naya Din Nai Raat. You have played four roles in Michael Madhana Kamarajan and a triple role in Appu Raja. So,why this preoccupation with dusavatars?
I've grown up idolising movie legends like Sivaji Ganesan and Gemini Ganesan. I was a student of the great stage artiste TK Shanmugam. I'm a fan of Marlon Brando, Charlie Chaplin and Peter Sellers. I've seen some of them from up close.. touched them.. been influenced by the mover the years to try something different every time.
Dasavatharam is supposedly the most expensive Indian film to date. Isn't that financially risky?
( Smiles ) Today every safe bet is a risk and every risk profitable business. Yes, Dasavatharam is the most expensive film ever, yes, it's taken two-and-a-half years, but producer Oscar Ravichandran has been patient. He has stood by the film. He's already reaping the benefits. You rarely see a smiling producer these days but Oscar's smiling.
<b3>Apparently, Mallika Sherawat threw a lot of tantrums.
I wouldn't know. I was the writer and star of the film. ( Smiles ) Everyone treated me well.
Hasn't Jackie Chan agreed to attend the film's music launch just because of Mallika?
Oscar Ravichandran has distributed over 400 films including almost all of Jackie Chan's in India. It's a connection that goes back 15-20 years. He's using it today.
Apparently, with computer graphics, Jayalalitha, Karunanidhi and George Bush are shown in the same frame.
They are part of the film but it's not for any kind of political propaganda. My politics is private like sex. I don'twant to spoil the fun by talking about it. There have been several conjectures about my 10 get-ups complete with graphics. I could use them for some other movie.
In the past,movies relied on story substance to pull in the crowds. Today it's all about gimmicks and special effects. Rajnikant is eagerly waiting to see Dasavatharam . Did you see Sivaji?
This is show business, right? So I see nothing wrong in that. I like it when Shah Rukh Khan gives space to his peers and seniors. I liked Om Shanti Om and might have liked it even more had I been less informed about cinema and wasn't looking into unnecessary details like focus and colour. I'm like a cook who cannot savour a good dish without checking on the salt and sugar.
What did you think of it?
We believe in two different kinds of cinema. It's unfair to pit one against the other. Would you ask Marlon Brando what he thought about John Wayne's films? Or compare (Arnold) Schwarzenegger's biceps to Woody Allen's brains? Come on! Mr Rajnikant has made some good films. I've done some commercially successful films too.
There was talk of a film with Rajnikant and you, to be directed by Mani Ratnam. Rajni and me?
(Chuckles)With the money they would have to pay us, they could make four other movies with more talented stars.
Not interested in working with Mani Ratnam any longer?
Of course, I am. But I believe his next is with Abhishek (Bachchan). I want the film to succeed.