On Kamal Haasan’s birthday, we’ve drawn up a list of some of his best movies, across the ages, that are available online. From comedy to action, silent films to one where he plays 10 roles, the actor has done everything. Here’s a Kamal Haasan retrospective list that you can watch in the comfort of your home. Catch up with titles you may have missed out on or just re-watch old favourites.
Amazon Prime Video, with subtitles
Nayagan (1987), Tamil
The Mani Ratnam classic remains a text book for aspiring filmmakers across the country. With Ilaiyaraaja’s music and PC Sreeram’s camerawork, there’s always something to learn afresh with each viewing.
Anbe Sivam (2001), Tamil
It may have flopped upon release but Sundar C’s social drama steeped in the politics of privilege enjoys a serious following even 20 years after its release. With the film’s message becoming more relevant with every passing year, it ceases to age.
Swathi Muthyam (1986), (Telugu)
In this K Viswanath classic, Kamal Haasan aces the role of a man-child, starring alongside Raadhika. Though the star has worked in just about a handful of direct Telugu films, he has won three Nandi Awards in the Best Actor category, one of them for this film.
Pushpak 1987, (Dialogue-less)
Directed by Singeetam Sreenivasa Rao, this dialogue-less film (titled Pushpaka Vimanam in Tamil) is a bittersweet portrayal of unemployment back in the 80s. With several unforgettable scenes (like the one with the ‘rich’ beggar), Pushpak is proof that cinema itself is a language, and does not really need an additional one to make itself heard.
Avvai Shanmughi (1996), Tamil
A must-watch if you’re desperately seeking 90s nostalgia, this comedy directed by KS Ravikumar gave us a combination of physical and slapstick comedy that’s as funny to a three-year-old as it is to a 90-year-old, and everyone else in between.
Sagara Sangamam (1984), Telugu
K Vishwanath’s musical drama (dubbed into Tamil as Salangai Oli) saw Kamal Haasan play an extremely talented but impoverished dancer who comes painfully close to success before tragedy strikes. The film featured some of his best dance performances. Add to it Ilaiyaraaja’s National Award-winning score, and the film holds up very well, even today.
Oru Kaidhiyin Diary (1985), Tamil
Written by K Bhagyaraj and directed by Bharathiraja, this action thriller is among Kamal’s biggest hits back in the 80s. The film, which is about a man who returns from prison after a long sentence, has several iconic scenes that have a life of their own on social media.
Michael Madana Kama Rajan (1990), Tamil
Perhaps the most rewatched film of Kamal’s is this Singeetam Sreenivasa Rao cult classic about quadruplets separated at birth. With characters such as Kameshwaran and Bheemboy, re-watching this film is almost an annual (or monthly) ritual for some.
Varumaiyin Niram Sivappu (1980), Tamil
Another take on the pains of the educated unemployed, K Balachander’s drama is about the moral dilemma Rangan (Kamal) faces when he’s looking for a job in Delhi. Simultaneously shot as Aakali Rajyam in Telugu, the film also got a Hindi version, Zara Si Zindagi.
16 Vayathinile (1977), Tamil
Bharathiraja’s first film set off a revolution in Tamil cinema. This rustic drama gave us Kamal as the iconic Chappani, apart from Rajinikanth playing another great character Parattai.
Sakalakala Vallavan (1982), Tamil
One of Kamal Haasan’s massier avatars (also one of his biggest hits), this SP Muthuraman film is often quoted by the former as a film that financed a lot of the classics he went on to make during this phase. The Taming Of The Shrew-like plot may have dated, but it’s still a must-watch if you want to track his career.
Kalyanaraman (1979), Tamil
In this tale of twin brothers, Kamal goes all out and has fun, playing two very different characters. The sequel to this movie Japanil Kalyanaraman (1985), which released six years later, didn’t achieve much success though.
Meendum Kokila (1981), Tamil
We all know that some stories don’t age well. Meendum Kokila is one such film, for it talks about the struggles of a married woman who tries to bring her husband, who has fallen in love with an actress, back home.
Thoongathey Thambi Thoongathey (1983), Tamil
This is another one of those hugely-successful films that took Kamal to the masses. Kamal never failed to juggle between commercial ventures and parallel offerings, and this film is an ode to the era when twins got separated at birth quite often in cinema.
Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981), Hindi
When K Balachander and Kamal teamed up for the Hindi remake of Maro Charitra, it became a classic romance with unforgettable songs, such as Tere Mere Beech Main. A Romeo and Juliet-like tragedy between a Tamil boy and a North Indian girl, the film set in Goa made Kamal a formidable star all over India, and introduced singer SP Balasubrahmanyam to a non-South audience.
Hey Ram (2000), Restored HD, Tamil / Hindi
The film may have completed 20 years but it still remains ahead of its time. The three-hour long epic, directed by Kamal himself, is another textbook for its visual language and staging.
YouTube – No Subtitles, SD Quality
Moondram Pirai (1982), Tamil
No viewer would be able to stop the tears that flow after watching Cheenu (Kamal) trying to make Viji (Sridevi) remember him in the climax. Moondram Pirai is, perhaps, the most poignant movies in Kamal’s career.
Kalathur Kannamma (1960), Tamil
How many child actors can say they won praise and awards for their debut movies? Well, Kamal can. His work in this film speaks of his prodigious talent.
Gunaa (1991), Tamil
If you’re Tamil, you would have shouted “Manithar Unarndhukolla Idhu Manitha Kaadhal Alla, Adhaiyum Thaandi Punithamaanathu,” at least once in your life. Gunaa has that power to pull you in and drown you in obsessive love.
Indian (1996), Tamil – Available On Rent
Can a vigilante-father kill his own son? Yes, especially when he knows he’s walked down the wrong path and is escaping punishment. As the righteous Indian thatha and the son without much of a moral core, Kamal shone in this Shankar film.
Singaravelan (1992), Tamil
Who can forget the comedy in this film? Be it the character played by Vadivelu or Goundamani’s comments that are relentless or the karuvaadu scene, the gags just do not stop.
Thenali (2000), Tamil
Kamal has starred in several comedy films, across the decades. There’s an enduring quality about this film, where he plays an innocent Sri Lankan Tamil who has a phobia of everything.
Kaathala Kaathala (1998), Tamil
A 90s comedy based on lies and errors, it is now famous for the meme templates it keeps giving. Maybe, Singeetam and Kamal should join hands again and make movies. Today’s generation should have something to look back upon five decades later.
Eros Now – with subtitles
Apoorva Sagodharargal (1989), Tamil
To this day, Kamal is asked about the methods used to make him look like a dwarf. It’s certainly not an easy feat, considering he sings, dances, and even fights in that avatar.
Punnagai Mannan (1986), Tamil
Kamal’s beard in this movie seems to be inspired from the cinematic portrayals of Devdas – a man who’s always thinking of the woman he loved. Watch the film for some amazing dance movements and two great loves. And yes, the adorable Chaplin Chellappa.
Disney+ Hotstar- with subtitles
Vishwaroopam and Vishwaroopam II (2013 and 2018), Tamil
Vishwaroopam II is not on the same plane as its predecessor. Many factors may be attributed to the shoddiness of the sequel, but part one remains a spectacularly-written and directed action thriller.