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Kamal Haasan: Why do we only talk about the 100-crore club? I see every film as a 1,000-crore entity

Actor Kamal Haasan says ‘moneybags who didn’t understand film business retarded it’; emphasises on making cinema nationally viable, not exploitable.

bollywood Updated: Aug 30, 2018 18:48 IST
Monika Rawal Kukreja
Monika Rawal Kukreja
Hindustan Times
Kamal Haasan,Vishwaroop,Bollywood
Actor Kamal Haasan was recently seen in the film, Vishwaroop 2.

Having started his film career as a child artist during the ’60s and then having done some iconic roles across industries — mainly Tamil, Malayalam, and Hindi — actor-filmmaker-politician Kamal Haasan has seen a whole spectrum of change... and also the things that haven’t changed. In a no-holds-barred conversation, Haasan talks about the box office craze, why Indian cinema hasn’t truly gone global yet, and the equation between generations of actors.

Read | Kamal Haasan: Celebs, too, have the right to talk about politics

How do you look at the change that Indian cinema has undergone over the years?

I was exasperated. I still am. Because this change should have happened at least 25 years back. They have retarded it. Moneybags who didn’t understand the business have retarded it — and instead of aesthetics, it was simply mathematics that ruled. No aesthetic industry can survive if you only let the moneybags rule it. That’s what had happened. Now, it’s changing. The mission is understood. People have realised that the ecosystem [of cinema] should be aesthetically inclined rather than purely financial.

What about the box-office craze that has taken over?

That’s for believers. I’m rational about these things. The box office can be hacked and you don’t toss up [a coin] or wait for lame luck to work on it. That way, it can only work twice or thrice. But look at the people, the masters like Raj Kapoor, who consistently came back to give you hits. So, box office is not such a magical place that everyone should care about.

Are filmmakers today obsessed with the 100-crore and so on clubs?

Why do we only talk about the 100-crore club? I see every film as a 1,000-crore entity and that’s where we should be heading. If we set the business on its feet instead of on its head, as it is now, it could go to 1,000-crore. Make cinema nationally viable and not exploitable.

Why is it that very few Indian films shine at international film festivals?

That’s because we’re quite happy with the local map and market. We can’t export [our films] because that won’t last the day, and we live for the day. We have to work towards making cinema much more useful to society. We can make it that way and we should.

When do fans see you doing a hardcore masala Bollywood film again?

Now (smiles)! Every film of mine is a hardcore masala film, if you’re talking about commercial success. I’ll keep the promise as long as I can finish my two upcoming films; I don’t hope for anything else. For audiences, I have lots of gratitude. For producers, I have done my bit. Now, let the young and talented people take over.

Have you been watching the fresh crop of actors?

Yes, and they’re so good and trained. This was not the case earlier. In our time, directors needed to mould actors. But now, they come trained and that makes the job easier, saves time for the director, and money for the producer. Also, there have always been good actors, but I’m happy that good actors are also successful now.

Any message for the younger lot?

Young is only a state of your age in the world. You can be wise enough to be peers with your seniors. [Young actors] should never think themselves lesser than a generation. I never thought so. My elders made me believe that I was their equal. The kind of faith they showed in me, I’m willing to show that faith in our youngsters now. Let us grow together.

First Published: Aug 30, 2018 18:36 IST