Late careers are definitely problematic. Especially if you have had a long filmography that carried much prestige, you really can’t take any movie that comes your way. But that has been done too, great actors have taken up roles just to collect the paycheck. Readers of the Lowly Laureate are well aware that we are a publication that cares about the career of this actor called Kamal Haasan.
We don’t really know politics and this might seem like much of a wish-list (trust us it isn’t), but Kamal surely will not abandon films. Yes, we are also aware that Kamal does not really need career advice. He has done well for himself in the fifty odd years.
This is not a wish-list, this is not a late-career planning crash course, this is just a way to shoe horn Kamal Haasan, the greatest living Indian actor into films that we get to watch from time to time. We enjoyed writing this series (otherwise we wouldn’t be writing it); hope you enjoy it too. Rephrasing Dasavatharam’s KH, these are not movies done by Kamal, but if he could have done it, it would have been nice.
Episode 1: A New Leaf (1971)
A popular comment for this movie on Letterboxd, the social network for movie lovers goes as thus : ” if i ever read a bad review of this, i’ll probably set myself on fire”; we wholly subscribe to this observation but although we would not take the extreme step of immolating ourselves, we have got a blog company to run. But, God knows it is true that this is one of the most perfect movies ever made. Heavens!
Walter Matthau plays mean millionaire Henry Graham, who has spent away his considerable fortune and has six weeks to find a rich wife because he cannot see himself become poor and doesn’t want to stop at just that. Prepared for every trick, Henry is a true gentleman villain.
Elaine May, the writer-director of this piece plays the innocent object of his desire-a luxurious solution to all his life’s problems-a fumbling fern focused botanist Dr. Henrietta Lowell.
Scenes move with the breeze of a page turn and the dialogue is genuinely funny; a modulated dark screwball comedy for the 70s mixed with the kindness that could be found even in the darkest of hearts. Heavens! This is a great movie! Don’t worry we won’t say more. Heavens!
How Would Kamal Do It?
Oh! KH is perfect to play the currency focused curmudgeon. This is actually a cheat, as through this series you will see that we will say that Kamal can play any role (but then he really can). Also it’s been a while since he has played a mean character, wasn’t Michael from MMKR the last one?
Do not forget that the dialogue heavy comedy is one of the well oiled arrows in RKFI’s quiver (Raj Kamal Films International) . Nasser (of course, but who else) could essay Henry Graham’s butler turned conscience keeper, although we are missing Nagesh on this one. Kamal-Crazy (our own Wilder-Diamond) can co-write and it would be welcoming to see Singeetham Srinivasa Rao direct. Damn, now this is seeming like a wish-list (but it really isn’t).
Although the story is driven from Henry’s POV; the movie is successful because Elaine May makes Henrietta outrageous yet grounded and the gags are excellent; we would like exercise caution before we suggest a lead actress. Maybe you could do better, after watching ‘A New Leaf’; if an Indian actress name pops in your head, do let us know.
Yes yes, by this time we hear your collective groans on why a remake? Firstly, original thoughts (and hence scripts) are exceedingly rare and most work is inspired. Secondly, we believe that KH would add a lot more to it- although the movie also features one of his favorite ways to end a film: jump into the water.
And to repeat ourselves, these are not movies done by Kamal, but if he could have done it, it would have been nice. He still can.
For a umm rather dramatic and troubling Kamal Haasan film about a man losing all his riches and supported by a butler type person, see Uyarndha Ullam.
For a different story featuring a rich man losing all his riches and trying to reclaim it, see Sivaji Ganesan’ Enga Ooru Raja