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December 28, 2001

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Kamal Chameleon!

Subhash K Jha

Kamal Haasan in Abhay Undeterred by the poor exhibition of his ambitious bi-lingual thriller Abhay, Kamal Haasan is ready with his next starrer in Tamil, a smooth-and-slick satire called Pamal K Sambandham.

The film features the incredibly versatile actor as a stuntperson in films who gangs up with a lady (Simran) to break up a marriage. And in doing so, the two homeweckers fall in love.

"Unusually enough, both Simranji and I play the roles of the protagonists and antagonists in the film. So my critics in Mumbai have the opportunity to say not only do I hog the limelight myself, I also help my co-star in doing so," laughs Kamal Haasan.

The self-directed barb refers to the reviews in Mumbai that accused the actor of giving audiences an overdose of himself in Abhay.

Retorts Kamal Haasan, "What was Dilip Kumar doing in Ram Aur Shyam. Wasn't that self-indulgent? Besides, critics down South thought that the portions without me in Abhay were boring."

Kamal Haasan is Abhay Though Kamal Haasan shies away from the conspiracy theory, he admits there was a concerted effort to not give Abhay a fair chance in Mumbai. "Many of my friends were told that the premiere of Abhay had been cancelled. I don’t think artistes should indulge in dirty politics, whether they are from Chennai or Mumbai.

"I have to admit that there’s a growing tendency in Mumbai to gang up against certain films and stars. I realised this the day I saw a cartoon pertaining to Hindutva in one of trade magazines in Mumbai. It would seem as though the colour preferences of the government at the Centre decides the course of our cinema. The Mumbai film industry is being run by people with particular religious, political and sexual preferences. I never could understand this kind of politics," he says.

Abhay has still not been released in North Indian states like Delhi-UP and Bihar. "I wasn’t the film’s producer, so there was little I could do to oversee its release everywhere. I don’t think the producer knew how to take the film beyond Tamil Nadu. Abhay didn’t stand a chance."

Kamal Haasan is Abhay Refuting all rumours that he intends to join active politics, Kamal Haasan says he’s happy being an actor. He has seen his mentor Shivaji Ganesan flounder politics and doesn’t intend to make the same mistakes.

He has just returned from New Zealand after shooting a song sequence with Simran for Pamal K Sambandham. "We’re rushing through the post-production work for a January 14, Pongal , opening for the film. It’s not a bi-lingual like Abhay. A lot of the Tamil colloquialism would have been lost in Hindi."

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