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Legal actor

Veteran lawyer-actor Charuhasan's take on films, life and more...


HE IS the man who taught you the difference between the globe and a laddoo in Meendum Oru Kaathal Kathai.

Standing on a podium in his priest's robe, genial actor Charuhasan uttered those near-immortal lines that ran something like "Ulagamum urundai, laddum urundai. Ulagam aandavan padaithathu, laddoo amma seithathu... "

Nearly thirty years later, he is still as affable as he was in the film, where he presided over a class of special children. In town to shoot for a documentary on diabetes being directed by a student of the Dr. GRD College of Science and participate in a "Star Talk", he speaks with ιlan about his life as a lawyer, the transition to a film star and, himself.

The switchover

Ask him if it was difficult to switchover from being a lawyer to actor, and he says: "Both in the legal profession and in cinema, there is lots of falsehood. Very little of what a lawyer says in court is true. Barring a few, most people lie in the witness box. As for films, I am yet to see a courtroom with two witness boxes facing each other. It simply does not happen that way in real life."

Does his frankness not land him in trouble? "Oh yes! The system is such that people don't want to face the truth. People call me to speak once, never a second time," he quips.

Talking about how he made his transition to films, Charuhasan replies without a second thought that he knew "which side of my bread was buttered with popularity".

How moved is he by the roles he plays? Girish Kasaravalli's "Tabarane Kathe" for instance (It won him the national award for best actor in 1987)?

"I am not emotionally moved by any character. Emotions are intended for the audience; the director builds up emotions for them. After all, the film belongs to him."

Entertainment for a cause

Charuhasan, who has acted in 40-odd films, feels the popularity of the entertainment industry must be used for social causes too.

"In our private life, we must think in terms of how best to use our popularity for society's benefit. It is like using whisky (which intoxicates) to treat a wound."

His views on marriage are radical, despite his long-standing relationship with his wife and family.

How does he justify that: "I still believe the institution of marriage has to be abolished. After all, a family is like a government and it has a superior and a subordinate. And, the woman never gets the power she ought to be getting."

The family act

Can any interaction with Charuhasan be complete without mention of his star-daughter Suhasini and kid brother Kamalhasan?

He starts off with Suhasini, who initially wanted to be a cinematographer before she made it big in films.

"I pushed her into doing her first film. I knew she would get hooked," he states. "But, I ensured that I did not share the frame often with my daughter and brother, as the difference in acting ability and age would be exposed," he smiles.

How would he rate himself as a father? "I never suppressed my kids. I believed in giving them total freedom. I always wanted to raise my children better than my father did. By suppressing them, you will not let their natural talents emerge. It took me more than four decades to know where my future lay. I avoided doing that with my kids."

As for his avatar as producer, Charuhasan says with a poker-face: "As an actor, I had a car waiting for me, but as producer I sent everyone by car and went by auto."

* * *

ACTOR CHARUHASAN was asked to speak on `Social Relevance in Films'. But, when he came to the podium, he said it would've been more interesting for the students and easier for him to talk about his life, for "I've would've then entertained with anecdotes from my life."

Some excerpts:

"I don't agree with the topic. Ellis Duncan, that famous foreign maker of mythologicals, shot his films with a scotch in one hand. People made those movies, which the public wanted. Parasakthi was revolutionary because in the 1940s, that was the mood in society. We cannot make those films now."

"A commercially-viable film must have 40 per cent violence and 60 per cent sex. What is entertaining for one is not for the other."

What is this about films and messages? Like someone said: "If I want to send someone a message, I'd go to the post office. You read Sidney Sheldon for entertainment. In the process, you get a bit or two of information."

"Treat films as entertainment and leave it at that. These people are not qualified to give you information. Learn from schools and colleges."

SUBHA J RAO

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