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Kamal Haasan overwhelmed by film festival award

IANS [Thursday, July 29, 2004]

Kamal Haasan is basking in the glory of his "Virumaandi" getting the Best Asian Film award for the year at the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival in South Korea.

As he puts finishing touches to his new Tamil comedy "Vasool Raja M.B.B.S.", the versatile filmmaker has much to be proud about after the thunderous applause and rave reviews at the just concluded festival in South Korea.

Says Kamal: "'Virumaandi' won a very important award, which has been instituted this year. It's called the European Federation Of Fantastic Films. The jury comprised only European members and the award is given to an Asian film. 

Some of the jury members had seen "Virumaandi" at Rotterdam. Out of the 19 films in competition, two were from India (the other being Rajat Kapoor's 'Raghu Romeo').  

"'Virumaandi' won the top prize. It was quite a surprise. I had just gone to see films and see a new country. I came back enriched.  They called 'Virumaandi' an epic film that combined social and political drama with spectacular action. They were impressed that I had not only acted in the film but also directed it."

Kamal was overwhelmed by the response in South Korea.

"Every show of 'Virumaandi' was full. The way they sought my autograph I felt I was in India. I guess everywhere in Asia there's a universality of culture. The Koreans looked like my audience from Imphal or Assam.

"Suddenly I rediscovered the pleasure of stardom; they were jostling for my attention. I felt like I was back to the time when my first Hindi film 'Ek Duuje Ke Liye' was released and people in Mumbai were whispering, 'The boy was good'."

In a fortnight, Tamil Nadu's most celebrated actor will be called Dr Kamal Haasan.

"That's right. I'm being awarded a doctorate by the Satyabhama University in Tamil Nadu. I believe it has produced exemplary students. It's quite an honor. Mr T.N. Seshan (former chief election commissioner) is on their board. He must have seen something in this high-school dropout," laughs the actor. 

"Basically I never attended school because I was either in movie theatres or roaming the streets. Hope Mr Seshan doesn't change his mind after hearing this," he says.

"Vasool Raja" is being readied for release next month. 

"Surprisingly, it's one of my most anticipated films. I don't know if that's a compliment to me or Mr Raj Kumar Hirani who made the original film 'Munnabhai M.B.B.S.' or to Mr Sanjay Dutt who starred in it."

Are realitybased films passe?

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