CHENNAI: After his recent controversial remarks on Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse at the fag-end of the Lok Sabha poll campaign which even hit the national headlines, actor-politician Kamal Haasan appears to be wading into another controversy on who spurred him into politics in the first place. He reveals it was none other than ‘The Empress’, late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, herself.
Excerpts from a forthcoming publication by Penguin India, titled ‘Defining India: Through Their Eyes’ by Sonia Singh, which was run by a national television channel on Thursday, Kamal Haasan told the author that he owes his decision to enter politics in “many ways to the late Chief Minister, J Jayalalithaa, and the clash over the release of his film Vishwaroopam. Billed as a very ambitious project of Kamal, the actor plays a Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) officer who infiltrates an Al Qaeda network in that film.
Vishwaroopam, it may be recalled, was to be released in January 2013 amid a huge row, with both a Hindu outfit and a few Muslim groups protesting its release and the then AIADMK government led by Ms Jayalalithaa banning its release in theatres in Tamil Nadu for its objectionable portions.
Though the Central Board of Film Certification had cleared the film, apprehending a law and order issue, the district collectors gave orders to theatre owners not to exhibit the film.
At one stage Kamal even threatened to leave the country as he was disgusted with the petty politics into which he and his film was then being drawn into, a la MF Hussein, but eventually agreed to “mute a few scenes” after which the film was released for public viewing in the state, though outside Tamil Nadu the film was released unhindered by the limited ban.
In this excerpt, Kamal tells Sonia Singh, the author of the book, when negotiations were on with ‘Jaya TV’, owned by people close to the ruling AIADMK, which had bid for the rights of the film, theirs being the highest bid, “they made an offer I couldn’t refuse.” Then came the “other offer”, apparently referring to take the other part of the deal in unaccounted cash.
Kamal recounts to the author that “it became very complicated. Everyone knows that I don’t touch black money. I don’t accept it at all, so then there was this discussion that was also sorted, when I said you must understand, I won’t take it.” It’s no personal affront, but I could not.” “I think she (Ms Jayalalithaa) took umbrage at anyone refusing an offer one cannot afford to refuse. She miscalculated what I could afford and how far I could go to defend my self-respect,” Kamal tells the author as excerpted from the new book....