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Kamal Haasan

Kannadasan remains by far the best ever that happened to lyric writing in Kollywood. He still rules over the emotional psyche of the Tamils, says actress daughter Visali Kannadasan

The straight-shooting Visali was but a cute, little kid when her dad died in 1981. Now she has grown into a gorgeous woman, happily married and has mothered a male-kid too. She swears, but for director Balachander, who dragged her to the silver screen in "Vaaname Ellai", she could not have made it to films. Her acting career failed to take off, though the launch-pad film was a box-office hit. She managed to appear as herself in certain non-descript films "Endrendrum Kadal" and "Sandhipoma". However, she established herself as a showgirl by virtue of the hullabaloo that was constantly in the air, thanks to her gift of the gab, TV appearances and star-nights. Her love for the idiot box grew day by day. 'Vaaname Ellai' a talk show is being telecast now in Vijay TV, anchored by her and produced by her hubby Manohar.

Q: But for the tag 'Daughter of Poet Kannadasan' Visali wouldn't be somebody today. Is that true?

A: Kannadasan fathered 13 kids in all, by his three wives. Prolific poet and a prolific father as well. Sometimes the media kick up dust about Kannadasan and none of his sons would stand up and fight. I don't take things lying down. I cut the critics to size like I did with one lyricist Kamarajan.

Q: What did he say?

A: During a talk show in TV he debunked and castigated the host of poets, dead and living. He bracketed himself with the great Kamban and declared other poets not worth their salt. He got boozed up that particular day! I don't know. Poor brag! He showed his malice and targeted the greats like Valluvar, Bharathi, and Illango and ridiculed them. The greats are miles ahead of him. He must be a loudmouth. Answering a question about the literary merits of the writer-Chief Minister Karunanidhi, he played the perfect second fiddle.

Q: Shielded your own papa, not the host of other helpless poets?

A: Singer Rajkumar Bharathi should take up the cudgel for the sake of his great grandfather Mahakhavi Bharathi. And other poets and writers should also collar him up.

Q: Did you write any books in the fashion of your father Kannadasan?

A: I brought out seven titles. Most of them are poetry. I wrote my first book when I was barely fourteen years old.

Q: How old are you now?

A: Turned twenty-three 

Q: Happily married now, will you again take to the pan-cake, camera, action and cut?

A: Not again. Even if it is only on screen, I just can't convince myself and act as some body's ladylove. Vishali should be looked upon with courtesy not lust.

Q: Then, you don't enjoy being in the limelight any longer?

A: No, not that. I am getting a fair share of publicity by anchoring popular T.V. shows. I am quite popular with the people too.

Q: How popular are you?

A: When I go around in the city or in the village people easily recognize me. A bunch of villagers once said straight "Here is MGR's daughter" on spotting me. They knew well that I am someone special.

Q: Someone offer you a character role. Would you grab it now?

A: Not necessarily. I am tired of the film folks and the pseudo culture that is in vogue now. Also, I don't want to play bit parts. I want to be the centre of attention, wherever I go. 

Q: Papa Kannadasan was a rage in lyric writing; did you try to become one?

A: Writing for the meter some how didn't suit me. But I wrote a song for Prem's "Anda Naal". Then I waited in the wings for sometime. Offers didn't come my way and I left it at that.

Q: Didn't popular lyricist Vairamuthu suggest you anything on lyric writing?

A: Once he wanted me to correct myself on certain mispronunciation. When I met him again he said that I had overcome the difficulty in pronouncing Tamil letters like 'la' and 'zha' in the vernacular. You can't expect someone to get interested in your career. He is quite busy with himself. 

Q: Would you compare the two, Kannadasan and Vairamuthu, one the legend, the other a reigning lyricist? 

A: Kannadasan is incomparable. Trying to draw parallels between them would be in vain. It is like comparing actor Prabhu with his legendary father Sivaji. My papa has got no equal or second to him. He still reigns over the Tamil psyche. His philosophical and love songs are yet listened and enjoyed by the masses.

Q: Did you ever knock on the doors of Producers and Directors?

A: I am self-respecting person. I don't go begging around for plum roles. If I am that sort of a person I would be getting many offers by now. I am not prepared to go to any length just to get included in the project.

Q: Favorite song penned by your father?

A: I was a just a kid then; my father wrote 'Kanne kalaimane' for the film "Moondram Pirai" and got home to tell my mother that he wrote the song as a sort of gift or lullaby to his daughter.

Q Favorite number penned by Vairamuthu?

A: I listen to "Kuruku chiruthavale" repeated times. I am quite carried away by the haunting tune and the quality lyric. 

Q: Don't you really miss the glamour attached to the big-screen?

A: No, I am getting enough publicity. TV shows and stage-shows serve me well.

Q: You entered the celluloid with a bang and ended it in a whimper?

A: That happened because of the lovely compulsion from Balachander's side. I thank him for that. He gave me the break in 'Vaaname Ellaai' and I was introduced to the rest of the world. But for the break Balachander gave me, I might have still been an unknown entity. Acting is not the only option. I have kept other options open like producing my own TV shows and starring in a few of them.

Updated on 20  -Jul - 2003

Compiled by U. Bharat.

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