Kamal Haasan the Howard Roark of Indian Cinema

Kamal Haasan the Howard Roark of Indian Cinema

By Prabhu Siv isn't responsible for the views expressed by the visitor in this column. The visitor claims that this column is his/her own. If the column infringes any copyrights that you hold, please email us at


Kamal reminds me of the lead character in Ayn Rand’s world famous novel “The Fountainhead” published in 1943. In the novel Howard Roark is an architect who tries to break tradition with his modern, original thinking which puts him at odds with the world, where he struggles his whole life before the world recognizes him.


There is a famous quote where Roark says “I don’t intend to build in order to have clients. I intend to have clients in order to build”. Though this statement sounds arrogant outwardly, it highlights how Roark loves architecture. The same could be said about Kamal. The guy loves making films so much that he often does not care what the world thinks about him. He needs commercial success just in order to make world class films. He has mentioned this several times. Whatever money he makes, he just invests back to make more films.

Just like the Roark, he is often at odds with the present day dogmatic film industry and present day religious fundamentalist culture. Do not think for a minute this would tire him or discourage him. He breathes cinema and he will continue his fight till the end.

Take his latest magnum opus “Viswaroopam”.  How many Indian movies open with a psychological counseling session where the heroine admits to having an affair with a villain when she is married to the hero? The man tries to break the tradition and make films that reflect the present day world exposing realities but the environment often find the truth hard to digest creating problems for him. 

Kamal is also an open atheist that puts him at odds with the cultural police. Consider the closing dialog in his previous movie “Dasavatharm”. Just brilliant. In his current movie Viswaroop, there are pockets of subtle atheist dialogs, “We do not crucify our gods, but we dunk them in ocean”.  What is more important is his attempt to increase the standards of Indian cinema to a higher level. In Viswaroopam you will not see stereotypes, the hero gets kicked in the groin several times and you would see action sequences of “Bourne series” quality. He makes serious attempts to make the audience think and expects the audience to follow a close cut fast paced screenplay. In Tarantino style, he delves deep in the lifestyle of an Afghan village amidst a fast paced screenplay.  If not for Kamal, Tamil cinema will be stuck in the monotone of 6 songs, separate comedy track, hero worship and punch dialogs. You can see his directorial brilliance where he attempts to convey that a common man in an Afghan village loves peace and an Afghan boy loves to become a doctor or an engineer much like kids around the world. I do not understand what provokes a few religious fanatics in attempting to ban this movie.  I think it is the moral duty of rational thinking, peace loving audience around the world to rally behind the man who is trying to break tradition and make great movies.

I would close with another great dialog from Ayn Rand’s famous Fountainhead which takes place when the college kicks Roark out of the college for his tradition breaking modern architectural design.

College Dean: "Do you mean to tell me that you're thinking seriously of building that way, when and if you are an architect?"


Roark: "Yes."

Dean: "My dear fellow, who will let you?"

Roark: "That's not the point. The point is, who will stop me?"

Of course no one can stop Kamal.


Prabhu Siv
Want to publish your column too?
Please send your column to



This page has information about Kamal Haasan the Howard Roark of Indian Cinema, Vishwaroopam, Howard Roark.