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November 7, 2003

Prem Panicker

Kamal Haasan made his acting debut as a child star in Kalathur Kannama (1960).

His adult debut was in the appropriately titled Arangetram (Debut), the 1973 film helmed by K Balachander.

Picking ten standouts from 30 years worth of cutting edge performances is a thankless task. To figure out how subjective this list is, check out a very short list of the films I’m leaving out:

Sigappu Rojakkal (1978), where Kamal, just five years old as an actor and still seeking to establish himself at the top, played a psychopath; the frothy 1981 comedy Meendum Kokila; his home production Raaja Parvai, that same year, where he plays a blind musician; K Vishwanath’s 1985 weepy Swathi Muthyam; the Malayalam thriller Chanakyan (1989); Michael Madana Kamarajan, the 1991 caper; Nammavar (1995); Kuruthipunal (1996), the remake that Govind Nihalani admitted was even better than Droh Kaal; Avvai Shanmughi (1996), wherein he did a Mrs Doubtfire to comic effect and, finally, Indian (1996), which won Kamal his third National Award. And more.

The list is obviously subjective, not definitive. It is influenced by personal taste. In some instances, it has even been influenced by what I glimpsed of his work behind the scenes.

Whatever. It is my list. And your turn. Pick your favorite Kamal movie (s) and tell us why; pick your favorite cinematic moments that, for you, define the man as an actor and again, tell us why.

Perhaps, between all of us, we will manage to capture a feel, a flavour, of a unique talent.

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Also Read: Kamal's day!

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