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6 Kamal Haasan films from the 1980s that made him the superstar that he is

The 2022 blockbuster Vikram starring the 67-year-old actor is his biggest hit and also the most successful Tamil film at the box office ever

Ashwin Rajagopalan Calcutta Published 26.08.22, 02:26 PM
Kamal Haasan in Pushpaka Vimana (1987)

Kamal Haasan in Pushpaka Vimana (1987) IMDb

A few days ago, Kamal Haasan’s 2022 blockbuster Vikram completed 75 days at the theatres in Tamil Nadu. The latest action thriller is not only the biggest hit of his over six-decade-long career that he started as a child artiste in 1960 but also the most successful Tamil film at the box office ever.

The 67-year-old gained global fame for his acting prowess in Indian (1996) and Chachi 420 (1997), but many film critics and industry observers will agree that the 1980s were the turning point in Haasan’s acting career. Besides producing several blockbusters, the decade also marked Haasan’s successful national debut in Ek Duje Ke Liye (1981).


While Vikram continues to get viewers on Disney+ Hotstar and Haasan gears up to resume filming for Indian 2, we pick his six most memorable films from the 1980s that are a must watch.

Raaja Paarvai (1981)

Kamal Haasan’s 100th film will always be remembered as one of his sweetest love stories. Haasan plays a visually challenged violinist and works up a terrific chemistry with Madhavi in this film directed by Singeetam Srinivasa Rao. The music score by Ilaiyaraaja and stunning visuals by Barun Mukherji elevated the film. The film drew inspiration from movies like Butterflies Are Free while the climax was a tribute to The Graduate and made us all believe in love.

Moondram Pirai (1982)

Haasan won his first National Award for a lead role with a poignant performance in Moondram Pirai. Directed by Balu Mahendra, who also won a National Award for his stellar cinematography, Haasan plays a school teacher who rescues a woman with retrograde amnesia. Haasan formed a hit combination with Sreedevi through much of the late ‘70s and the early ‘80s, and this is one of their best films together. The film was remade as Sadma in Hindi a year later.

Sagara Sangamam (1983)

Haasan plays a classical dancer, a role for which he trained for a month at a time when he was working multiple shifts. Haasan and Jaya Prada were brilliant in this K. Vishwanath masterpiece which is also remembered for its excellent classical music and is among Haasan’s biggest hits in Telugu.

Saagar (1985)

Haasan, Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia sizzled in this triangular love story that was almost entirely shot on a painstakingly crafted set. Although Rishi wins Dimple at the end, it was Haasan that garnered all the attention, the audience’s sympathy. This film is also remembered for its lilting music and visuals.

Nayagan (1987)

Time magazine called it a ‘terrific gangster epic in The Godfather style’ and listed it as one of the 100 best feature films ever made. Mani Ratnam sought inspiration from the tale of a mafia don in Mumbai to craft his tribute to The Godfather trilogy. It made Ratnam a national celebrity but it was Haasan who held this film together with a powerhouse performance that saw him age on screen with shades of Robert De Niro and Marlon Brando. Haasan’s performance won him a National Award and changed his course as an actor forever.

Pushpaka Vimana /Pushpak (1987)

How do you say ‘I love you’ without saying a word? Kamal Haasan and Amala did this in a silent movie that made a lot of noise. Haasan plays an unemployed graduate who encounters an unconscious, drunk, wealthy man and takes over his lifestyle after keeping him hostage. The film had all the elements — romance, humour and multiple lump-in-your-throat moments.

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