Kamal Haasan is not just a superstar, but a great actor as well. At least, he can be a great performer, when he wants to be. Nobody can forget his brilliant portrayal of an underworld don in Mani Ratnam's Nayagan. It was not Haasan we saw on the screen, but Velu Nayagar. He mesmerised us with his powerful presence of a man who rose from the slums of Mumbai to become an epitome of power.
To this writer, Haasan has not bettered that, but for all one knows, his latest work out to hit the theatres on July 3, Jeethu Joseph's Papanasam (a remake of the same director's Malayalam hit, Drishyam with Mohanlal), may well see Kamal's brilliance shine through the almost flawless script.
Papanasam follows the same story and script of Drishyam, give and take a few changes to suit the mood and mannerisms of the Tamil Nadar community of Thirunelveli. Drishyam was set in Kerala among the Christians.
For fans and critics, Haasan's Suyumbulingam in Papanasam may just about reaffirm that Kamal is not just a showman -- as he was seen in movies like Viswaroopam and Uttama Villain -- but an actor par excellence. An actor we saw in works like Apoorva Ragangal, 16 Vyathinile, Raaja Paarvai, Ek Duje Ke Liye and so on.And hopefully, Papanasam will open without a controversy. Many of Haasan's recent films faced hurdles, including delayed releases. Viswaroopam was banned in Tamil Nadu, because Muslim groups feared that it would provoke communal clashes. One Hindu organisation decried that Viswaroopam was not a Tamil word, and accused Haasan of being anti-Tamil!
Also, Haasan's move to fight piracy by releasing the movie first on the Direct-to-Home platform angered cinema owners, who refused to screen Viswaroopam. After several weeks of delay, Viswaroopam could finally open in theatres. The DTH followed.
Similarly, Uttama Villain was also sought to be banned by different groups, which said that the film hurt religious sentiments.This is not all. Earlier, Dasavatharam was banned for a while because there was a charge of plagiarism against it. Also, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad raised a hue and cry over the movie's depiction of a clash between Saivism and Vaishnavim.
Hassan's Hey Ram, India's nomination for the Foreign Language Oscar, was ripped apart, because it reportedly showed Gandhi in poor light.
This list can go on, but Papanasam has stopped Haasan's obstacle race. Or so it seems. With 48 hours to go before the film opens worldwide (it will release in the Middle East a day earlier on Thursday), all seems quiet for Kamal.