Kamal Haasan, a wonderful actor, has many titles conferred to him, either by authorities or fans. To me he is simply a good actor. But otherwise, he is also Padmashree Kamal Haasan, Aalwarpet Andavar, Super Actor and more recently, and most popularly Ulaga Nayagan (Global Hero…a title that is not sanctioned by United Nation, unfortunately).
But how many fans, especially the younger ones, know that he was once known as Kathal Ilavarasan (Prince of Love)…a sort of passing of mantle from Kathal Mannan (King of Love) Gemini Ganesan? Well, the type of roles he did those days gave way to that title. So, here I want to examine a little bit on Kamal in his Kathal Ilavarasan days.
As many of us now, then, he did many films with Sri Devi. We know he won the first national award for Mundram Pirai. Here he plays a teacher who falls in love with amnesia-ridden Sri Devi, only to lose her in the end as she recovers from the extended memory relapse.
His work was already exemplary before that, through Pathinaru Vayathinile. Here, he plays mentally challenged village bumpkin who falls in love with Sri Devi only to lose her in the end because he was jailed for killing Rajini.
Speaking of Rajini, Kamal appeared with him earlier in Mundru Mudichi in an extended guest role, in which he falls in love with Sri Devi only to lose her, because he gets indirectly killed by Rajini.
Death also plays a part in well essayed role in Vazhvey Maya, where he plays a playboy who sincerely falls in love with Sri Devi, only to lose her because this time its not Rajini but cancer which kills him.
More adventures with Sri Devi in Kalyanaraaman, where Kamal plays Kalyanam, a simple minded heir who falls in love with Sri Devi only to lose her because he gets killed by the bad guy. As a compensation, his brother, also played by Kamal gets Sri Devi, only to lose her later for reasons unknown as we learn from the sequel Jappanil Kalyanaraaman.
Both Kamal and Sri Devi was in one of the most disturbing psychological thriller of all time in Tamil film industry, Barathiraja’s Sigappu Rojjakkal. In it Kamal plays a schizophrenic rich man who falls in love and marries (phew) Sri Devi only to lose her in the end because, among others, he killed K. Bagyaraj.
Moving away from Sri Devi, Kamal appeared with Rajini in Ninaittaley Inikkum, in which he plays a singer who falls in love with Jaya Pradha, only to lose her in the end because Rajini kills her. Sorry, actually she dies of brain tumour.
Kamal appeared again with Rajini in Ilamai Unjaladugirathu, an epoch making youthful love story, where he falls in love with Sri Priya, only to lose her when he gets involved with another woman. Nobody gets killed here, but Rajini gets Sri Priya in the end.
Kamal was reunited with Jaya Pradha in the awesome and brilliant Salanggai Oli. In it, Kamal plays an amateur Baratha Natiyam dancer who falls in love with this muse, Jaya Pradha, only to lose her to Sarath Babu. Rajini was nowhere to be seen in this film though it should be noted that Rajini “lost” his sister to the same (yes, the same) Sarath Bahu in Mullum Malarum.
The whole Rajini factor ruining Kamal’s relationship actually started in Rajini’s first film itself. Apoorva Raganggal saw Kamal falling in love with Sri Vidhya only to lose her because Rajini has to die from Leukemia (go figure, its complex psychological situation).
Apoorva Raganggal was a K. Balachander’s (KB) film. KB was reunited with Kamal and Rajini in two follow-ups, Aval Oru Todarkathai and Avargal, where in those films Kamal falls in love with Sri Priya and Sujatha respectively only to lose them because it’s a KB film dammit!
Moving on from the black and white and low budget KB films to colour and location extravagance, Kamal acted with Rathi in bell bottom fest Ilamai Unjaladugirathu which proved indefinitely how much the measurement of the cuff of a bell bottom pants can indirectly influence the way Kamal dances. In this, he plays a rich businessman who falls in love with Rathi only to lose her….ah my memory. I think she dies hit by an asteroid. Can’t remember, getting old.
All these roles begs one question: Who in the right frame of mind ever thought of giving Kathal Ilavarasan title to Kamal? Thank god he moved on to be a good actor.