Didn't want to touch black money, so left Bollywood: Kamal Haasan at #SouthConclave2017

DailyBiteJan 09, 2017 | 13:57

Didn't want to touch black money, so left Bollywood: Kamal Haasan at #SouthConclave2017

He has acted in over 260 movies and has conquered the Hindi heartland as much as the southern delights of Tamil cinema. He’s Kamal Haasan and he speaks his mind fearlessly, saying he never ever wanted to touch or be tainted by black money in his long career as an actor straddling different film industries.

In a no-holds-barred conversation with K Hariharan, professor film studies and broadcast journalism at Ashoka University, Kamal Haasan spoke at length at the India Today South Conclave 2017,  in a panel discussion titled “One Actor, Many Roles: Conversation on the Craft”.


Starting off with the assertion that he’s still a “reluctant actor”, when Hariharan said that he has donned multiple roles, quite like the bahurupi, Hassan sounded a brave note from the outset.

Briefly dwelling on his leg injury, and how he made the snap decision to save his right foot, the legendary actor said: “I hate the idea of becoming a star, it’s a persona.”

He went on to say that “acting is double-edged sword, [which must be] wielded responsibly”, when he was talking about how he has “lost quite a few of my friends to cancer, don’t smoke onscreen”.

The veteran actor spoke of his co-stars, such as Om Puri and Sridevi, the acting legends who influenced him, how he thinks politics is “avaricious” and not for good people, and that the next Gandhi may not come from Parliament.

Here are the best of the quotable quotes from Hassan at the #SouthConclave2017:

On Charlie Chaplin, Shivaji Ganesan and Dilip Kumar

“They are true trend-setters.”

“Shivaji Ganesan imbibed influences from the West, to escape his immediate environ. He liked the way Orson Welles walked. He became something else.”


“I would kneel and kiss Dilip saab’s hand like he was my godfather. Someone told him acting he did 40 years back is still attempted. He replied, ‘people also think I’m dead; am only old’.”

“Charlie Chaplin was paid million dollars in 2915. There was passion in filmmaking then. Crunching numbers wouldn’t pave way either for blockbusters or great moments in cinema.”

Kamal Haasan at India Today South Conclave 2017.

On underworld money in Bollywood

“I decided to come back to Tamil cinema because there were underworld connections in Bollywood. I didn’t want to either succumb to it, or oppose it. I had decided long back that I’d have nothing to do with black money. I’m a living proof of how you can stay untouched by it.”

“Cameraman Vincent was another person who lived a full life but never touched black money.”

On Om Puri

“His honesty, purity to approach anything will be remembered. He came up with lines in Chachi 420, and they made for great dialogue, because part of the script.”

On comedy

“All comedians are serious people, they are angry people. Humour is gentle injection, of criticism”.


On what drives him

“Applause is a great reward in itself. Even a silent nod. I don’t make film keeping national awards in mind.”

On music

“I’m a connoisseur of music. Ilyaraja responsible for making me sing. He wanted to prove ‘in spite of him, look how great my song is!’ I have wonderful music gurus.”

On the best character he played

“It has to be playing Kamal Haasan. Am trying to make it convincing.”

On Sridevi

“She was part of the gang, like a sibling. Never thought of her as someone from the opposite gender. We grew up together. Did over 30 films with her, that’s almost a lifetime. Her absorbing power was astounding. She is a great mimic.”

On Cho Ramaswamy

“Cho had extreme clarity and precision of thought He said ‘I’m a good writer, you’re a good actor, Nagesh is a great director’. He was full of humour, full of satire. He was angry.”

On politics

“There could be an awesome politician, but good politician doesn’t exist. Politics is so confusing and avaricious now, it’s impossible to be good. Peer pressure to be otherwise drives people to do politics badly.”

On Gandhi

“Gandhi was a spirit. At the peril of being called a mad man, a maverick, nonsense-speaking, latrine-cleaning youngster, Gandhi. broke away from traditions. Where’s Gandhi now? You won’t  find them in Parliament or one building. He’s out there on the streets.”

Last updated: January 09, 2017 | 13:57
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