Kamal Haasan is a creative juggernaut. A trained classical dancer, film director and star of over 200 films – he is undoubtedly one of the greatest performers in the history of Indian cinema. Even at 61, the former child actor’s star appeal hasn’t diminished as he continues to dish out some of the most lucrative films in Tamil cinema. Here’s a look at the roles that made him the icon he is today
Moondru Mudichu (1976)
One of his earliest films, Moondru Mudichu, Haasan played the role of Balaji in a love traingle which also featured Sridevi and Rajnikanth.
A remake of the hit Tamil tragedy Moondram Pirai, Sadma saw Kamal Haasan win the National Award for portraying a lonely school teacher who falls in love with an amnesiac he helps recover, only to be forgotten and left abandoned.
Pushpak Vimana ( 1987)
The movie saw Kamal Haasan play a young unemployed youth pretending to be a rich man. His comedic talents made the movie a commercial and critical hit, earning him another National Award.
Chachi 420 (1997)
The remake of a Tamil remake (starring Haasan) of Hollywood’s Mrs. Doubtfire, Haasan established himself as the master of gender bender comedies by comfortably slipping into the skin of Lakshmi Gorphade – an identity assumed by Haasan’s character in an effort to stay closer to his young daughter and estranged wife.
Hey Ram (2000)
This partition-era drama also starred Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee. In the film Haasan played an archeologist turned reluctant nationalist when a mob kills his wife in the midst of partition inspired riots in Calcutta. The film was India’s Oscar entry in 2000.
With its title literally translating into 10 avatars, the movie saw Kamal Haasan portray 10 different roles ranging from the portrayal of George W. Bush to a turbanned Sikh character, all covered in heavy prosthetics. While the film recieved mixed reviews, it saw Haasan pushing the boundaries of conventional cinema with attempt to maximise his versitility.
One of Haasan’s more recent blockbusters, Vishwaroopam once again established his prowess as a commercial hero for the masses, earning several crores in box office revenue.
Widely considered to be his most critically acclaimed role, Nayagam sees Haasan portray the role of an underworld don of a local slum. The film, directed by Mani Ratnam, was dubbed in Hindi as well as Telugu and earned him a National Award, along withputting the movie in TIME magazine’s 100 all-time greatest films.
This tale of unrequitted love earned Kamal Haasan a favourable spot in Bollywood at a time when he was just begginning to venture out of regional cinema. A critical and commercial hit, the film also starred Dimple Kapadia and Rishi Kapoor.
Apoorva Ragangal (1975)
A film ahead of its time, it challenged conventional social mores by depicting a romance between a young man and an older woman. It won Kamal Haasan his first filmfare award.