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Happy Birthday Ulaganayagan: Must-watch films of legendary actor

Debuting as a child artist in the 1960 film 'Kalathur Kannamma', Kamal Haasan has done more than 200 movies and has donned so many roles.

Happy Birthday Ulaganayagan: Must-watch films of legendary actor
Kamal Haasan

CHENNAI: Actor Kamal Haasan has ruled the hearts of cine lovers with his charismatic screen presence and stellar acting performances. The actor who recently delivered a blockbuster hit with Lokesh Kanagaraj's film titled 'Vikram' has played several unconventional roles in his career spanning over six decades.

Debuting as a child artist in the 1960 film 'Kalathur Kannamma', Kamal Haasan has done more than 200 movies and has donned so many roles such as actor, director, screenwriter, choreographer, producer, playback singer, lyricist, and politician and hasn't been confined himself to any one language.

As the actor turns 68 today, we take a look at 12 of his must-watch films:


Kamal and Saranya Ponvannan in 'Nayagan'

Mani Ratnam's Directorial film 'Nayagan' is an epic crime drama that is loosely based on the life of the Bombay underworld don Varadarajan Mudaliar. The film showed the evolution of an ordinary man to a fierce Don. He seamlessly transitioned into both the young and old Velu, which lead the actor to win the National Award for Best Actor for the film. The film also was a commercial success and ran for over 175 days in theatres and was included in TIME's "All-Time 100 Best Films" list.

Hey Ram

Kamal as Saket Ram in 'Hey Ram'

Kamal's Hey Ram is a bilingual period crime drama film. The film marked Shah Rukh Khan's debut in Tamil cinema and depicted India's partition and the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse. Ilaiyaraaja composed the score and songs for the film. The film was submitted to the Oscars but failed to get nominated.


Kamal in 10 different roles in 'Dasavatharam'

Kamal went all out in this film and essayed 10 characters in a single film. From former US President George Bush to an ex-CIA agent, the actor managed to nail every character in his prosthetic makeup. The film directed by KS Ravikumar became a massive hit, and also featured Asin, Jaya Prada, and Mallika Sherawat.

Moondram Pirai

Kamal in 'Moondram Pirai'

Balu Mahendra's film Moondram Pirai is a critically acclaimed romantic drama that featured Kamal Haasan and Sridevi. The film stuck the hard strings of Kamal fans for the disturbing climax and Haasan’s earnest performance earned his first National Award. The film, which was a box-office success, has Ilaiyaraaja's music, with lyrics written by Kannadasan, Vairamuthu, and Gangai Amaran. It also featured the last song written by Kannadasan to be recorded before his death in 1981. The film also won National Film for Best Cinematography for Mahendra.

Pathinaaru Vayathinile

Kamal in 'Pathinaaru Vayathinile'

Bharathirajaa's debut film Pathinaaru Vayathinile starred Kamal Haasan, Sridevi, and Rajinikanth and focused on the strengths and vulnerabilities of Mayil, a 16-year-old schoolgirl, and the challenges she faces and overcomes. The film received critical praise for Bharathiraja's script, Ilaiyaraaja's music, and the performances of Haasan, Sridevi, and Rajinikanth. It was commercially successful, with a 175-day theatrical run. It won numerous awards.

Aboorva Sagotharargal

Kamal in 'Aboorva Sagotharargal'

Singeetam Srinivasa Rao's Aboorva Sagotharargal featured an ensemble cast and revolves around the twins Raju and Appu, who were separated during childhood, and Appu's quest for revenge against the criminals who killed his father. The film was a box-office success and ran a 200-day run in theatres and won many awards. Kamal also had considered making a sequel to the film which was later dropped.

Avvai Shanmugi

Kamal in 'Avvai Shanmugi'

KS Ravikumar's directorial Avvai Shanmugi was a comedy film that starred Kamal Haasan and Meena, with Gemini Ganesan, Nagesh, Heera, Manivannan, Nassar, Delhi Ganesh and Ann in supporting roles. The box office hit film was co-written by Crazy Mohan and was heavily inspired by the American film Mrs Doubtfire (1993) and revolves around a divorcé who disguises himself as a nanny to be close to his daughter, whose custody is only with his ex-wife. The film won two TN State Film Awards for Best Make-up Artist (K. M. Sarathkumar) and Best Child Artist (Ann) and was remade in Hindi as Chachi 420, with Haasan directing and reprising his role.

Sathi Leelavathi

Kamal Haasan and Ramesh Aravind in 'Sathi Leelavathi'

Balu Mahendra's comedy film Sathi Leelavathi features Ramesh Aravind, Kalpana, and Heera with Kamal Haasan and Kovai Sarala in supporting roles. The film's plot is adapted loosely from the Hollywood movie, She-Devil, and dialogues by Crazy Mohan. Ilaiyaraaja served as the music composer. The film was a commercial success and was later remade in 1999 in Hindi by David Dhawan as Biwi No.1.

Anbe Sivam

Kamal Haasan and Madhavan in 'Anbe Sivam'

Sundar C's Anbe Sivam was a satirical drama that starred Kamal Haasan and Madhavan in lead roles and tells the story of Nallasivam and Anbarasu, two men of contrasting personalities who undertake an unexpected journey. The film depicts several themes that include communism, atheism, and altruism and also depicts the actor's humanist views. The film underperformed at the box office but is in cult status for cinema lovers.


Poster of 'Virumaandi'

Kamal's action drama film Virumaandi is a film based on the Rashomon effect and apart from being an actor, he donned several hats for the film as a director, writer, co-editor, and producer. The film revolves around the interview of two prison inmates and features Abhirami, Napoleon, Rohini Molleti, Shanmugarajan, and Nassar in pivotal roles. Ilaiyaraaja composed the music and the film which won critical acclaim and was a commercial success at the box office. It also marked Rohini’s comeback film after an 8-year hiatus from acting.

Thevar Magan

Kamal Haasan and Sivaji Ganesan in 'Thevar Magan'

Thevar Magan was directed by Bharathan and written by Kamal that follows a respected village chieftain's son who wants to open a business but whose father wants him to help the villagers. The critically acclaimed film's script was completed in seven days and Kamal earlier quoted that The Godfather (1972) and the Kannada film Kaadu (1973) were inspirations for the film. The film was chosen as India's entry for the Best Foreign Language Film for the 65th Academy Awards but failed to get nominated.


Kamal in 'Vikram'

Kamal's recent outing with Lokesh Kanagaraj brought the actor back to the screen in full glory. Apart from the actor's intense performance, the film also featured Vijay Sethupathi and Fahadh Faasil and was a massive hit and had a 100-day run in the theatre.

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