Two iconic personalities of Indian cinema Kamal Haasan and A.R. Rahman who are working together in the film Thalaivan Irukkindraan, met in the virtual world during the ongoing lockdown and discussed an array of topics including music, films, success, failure, gender equality, society and revolution.
Kamal admitted that he was so he was so engrossed in Ilaiyaraaja’s music that he noticed ARR pretty late.
“It’s a difficult task for a talented person to live in a society that doesn’t even give a kind look. He made a way through, thanks to K. Balachander and Mani Ratnam. People say that I pick talents even before they become famous. But I found A.R. Rahman only after the world has already recognised him. I was so engrossed with Ilayaraja’s music,” Ulaganayagan said.
Interrupting him, the Oscar winner said, “That was a blessing, to have people like him (Raja).”
Having worked with him in Indian and now having completed the Marmayogi track in Thalaivan…, Kamal said it was a pleasure working with Rahman. “I started enjoying working with you as a director. The cool approach and the atmosphere you created during the process was ‘magical’,” he said, adding, “It is one of Rahman’s best, after Indian. I’ve never heard a song like that.”
The topic shifted to what it means to be a Tamilian.
Kamal said, “You should know the language. We have to be proud of our mother-tongue. That doesn’t mean that we can stutter around with that.”
In that context, he added that he prefers to call Madras ‘National Cinema Center’, as many vernacular films, including those in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi, Kannada and Bengali, were made here at one time.
Language plays an important role
On the other hand, Rahman said, “The language was very tough for me. I used to fail in Tamil at school. Only very recently, I got my Tamil pronunciations right. Language slows down artistes, especially musicians. What you play in music is much faster than what you articulate in words.”
Kamal agreed and recalled how the legendary Kannadasan did not write down his lyrics. “He used to recite his lines rapidly and move on.” ARR added, “Lyrics are not just words. They have to come from deep philosophy and the bottom of your soul.”
The duo agreed that good work would get recognised in some way. Rahman recalled how, while he was at London airport, a woman, a foreigner, came up to him to express appreciation for his songs in Dil Se, which turned out to be a Box Office disaster in North India. Kamal, on his part, shared how his house looked like a funeral home on the day his dream project Hey Ram was released. “Certain movies have different values,” ARR said.
ARR spoke about the need for mutual respect and understanding, sharing and learning.
“Physically, men and women may look different, but we are at par with each other. There’s oneness. Women tend to have different instincts when compared to men. I’ve seen it in my mother, my wife and my daughters on different occasions,” he said.
Kamal on the other hand, while agreeing that men and women are equals, pointed out that there can never be complete equality since “a man can never give birth to a child.”
RACISIM & DIVISION
The two of them touched on the subject of improvement in society. Rahman said, “Every citizen should be self-aware. In a way there is exploitation. The world is full of racism and division. One can follow anyone they like be it a leader or a cinema star but they should not forget their own family. Pull them up along with you. The captain of that family, it is both father and mother, should pull up everyone else in the family with education and art. This will help improve the standard of the country.”
“Earlier, when you were born in a village or in a certain caste, you were taught that you were not eligible to think beyond those limits. I think those constraints will have to be broken,” Rahman said. To this Kamal added, “We have started knocking down those walls. The rich-poor divide will always exist. The lesser artiste-greater artiste divide too will always be there. But we should realise that lesser artistes also contribute.”
They signed off saying that like the different versions of Vande Mataram, they have plans to work on a new version of Tamizh Thaai Vazhthu.