From making a Hollywood debut to playing as a king...The iconic projects that we missed from Kamal Haasan!

(This article is authored by Alar) 

The name is not just of an actor. It’s a mirror, a reference to Indian cinema- Its "Kamal Haasan”, a phenomenal brand that has grown for decades since 1960, the 'Kalathur Kannamma' release. Even though he is a thespian monster who has stockpiled all the artistry knacks, he also couldn't make it to the success road in his cinematic journey.

Curiously, many of the works done during his rise to superstardom are still unreleased and many were Himalayan budgets. Ulaga Nayagan even attempted to remake the globally famous American film, 'The Godfather' in Tamil. The reason could be many like the money, creative differences, lack of direction, friction with producers, failure to find the right actors and just plain bad luck. Let's see some of his notable pictures, that are unlucky to see the silver screen, ranging from smallish to most anticipating ones, which will make us irrefutably say, ''Ah, we missed it'’.

The 1994 Revathi, Urvashi, Rohini starred 'Magalir Mattum' was attempted to remake in Hindi as 'Ladies Only'. The origin, which was acclaimed for Nakesh's performance as a corpse, was planned to be portrayed by Kamal Haasan in the Hindi version but unfortunately, the film failed to hit theatres. A social drama, 'Khabardar' was created by a Telugu director in 1984, where Kamal Haasan, Amitabh Bachchan, and Sridevi were roped to play crucial roles.

However, it was cancelled due to unknown reasons, until K Bhagyaraj revealed in an interview, that the film was stalled because Amitabh Bachchan had felt that the audiences would praise Kamal Haasan's portrayal rather than his, and subsequently asked to cancel the project. It would be a fabulous treat for both Hindi, Telugu and Hindi fans, if Big B and Kamal screening happened. Who knows, it would have become the first to synonymise the PAN Indian film too!

Kamal Haasan, the mastermind of the film trend who earlier thought it would be different, if no female lead in a film, was in talks to make the interesting film 'KG' in 2004, where Kamal was to play a cop. Had it been released, it would have marked the directorial debut of Ramesh Aravindh. Kamal Haasan discussed the script with Singeetham Sreenivasa Rao and Ramesh Aravind and it was reported that Mumbai-based financier Bharat Shah has agreed to fund the movie. However, it was later shelved in the store of Kamal's unrealized projects. 

The Palakkad Brahmin cook - Kameshwaran role was a notable character played by Kamal Haasan, in 'Michael Madhana Kama Rajan'. So in the 2000s, Ulaga Nayagan was thought to create a separate movie based on the character 'London-il Kameshwaran'. But later it was shifted to Madhavan to play the role, which was released as 'Nala Damayanthi' in 2003, after the duo played in  Anbe Sivam together.

The spectacular Indian filmmaker, Shankar’s earlier choice for Robo was Kamal Hassan and Preity Zinta, but the conflict between Kamal and Shankar made him shift his choice to Superstar Rajinikanth and Aishwarya Rai. The film was reported to be a futuristic techno-thriller set in Chennai in around 2200 or 3000 AD. A bilingual movie, that revolves around a man and a beast, was reported to be directed by K S Ravikumar. The movie was titled 'Naran' and the makers have planned to collaborate with Amitabh Bachchan as a beast, but was cancelled and it was indeed hard to move on with the fact that the Tamil audience missed the first fantasy-based beast movie.

We are celebrating Dhanush for his Hollywood venture for 'The Gray Man' film. But Haasan was picked by Hollywood producer Barrie Osborne after he expressed his interest in making an English film in linkage with Kamal Haasan as a lead role, titled 'Moo', in 2012. But sources from 2017 reports claim that it might be still possible, because it was not officially said the project was abandoned. 

An interesting film about 'Tipu Sultan', the great Indian ruler, was said to be played by Kamal Haasan in 2011, along with Sridevi. The film 'Tippuvum Unniaarchayum'  was cancelled in the pre-production stage, under the notion that it may bring political controversies. If it has happened, Aandavar fans may witness their idol as a king, which was never happened in his film history.

A sequel to Panchatanthiram was also tried by K S Ravikumar and Kamal but the project didn't materialise due to Kamal's commitments and the duo later joined hands in the movie 'Manmadan Ambu' which was released in 2010.  An interesting fact is that in August 2016, KS Ravikumar held discussions with Kamal Haasan about Panchathanthiram's sequel, where five women would take revenge on their husbands. Even Lokesh Kanagaraj had considered this sequel but the idea was dropped and later, he worked with Kamal Haasan in the blockbuster movie 'Vikram'. 

The 2008 project '19 Steps' is an anticipating project even now, where Kamal Hassan tried to integrate the film as an Indo-Japanese movie for the first time, which was to be produced by Walt Disney, based on martial arts, but the film, where Asin was roped to play a key role, was sunk indefinitely. The same year, Dasavadharam film was birthed where Kamal Haasan paired with Asin, with the same Japanese Martial Art teacher character played by Kamal.

There will be fewer people, who were not known about Kamal's Himalayan project 'Marudhanayagam'. The film was on the floor for five years nearly and it is based on an 18th-century warrior Maruthanayagam Pillai. The project was the talk of the town and later in 2014, a film titled 'Vaamamaargam' was announced from the actor's side, inspired by aghoris. But the talks suggested that it would be a reviving project like 'Marudhanayagam'. 

As a bilingual Hindi-Tamil period film, set in the 7th century, 'Marmayogi' was taken hand after Aalavandhan's release. But was postponed to resume work again after Dasavatharam 2008, but it was reported that the project was shelved due to a clash between Shankar and Kamal for Robo, and its production banner Pyramid Saimira, after being impacted by its box office failure in the movie 'Kuselan'. Hence Kamal moved on to 'Unnaipol Oruvan', where his rugged beard look in the film was created for 'Maramayogi' film.

'Thalaivan Irukkindran' was another intriguing work, where the Ulaga Nayagan once tried to bring 'Jackie Chan, Salman Khan and Prabhas to screen in 2012, after getting too much-reviving stage, and Kamal Haasan revealed that the project would be a "contemporary story, touching on politics, finance and the underworld" and "an action film with lots of emotion". But was cancelled after Viswaroopam and Sabaash Naidu were resumed. 

Coming to 'Sabaash Naidu', a reviving RAW operative character from his 'Dasavatharam' film, where his daughter Shruthi Haasan was to play a key role and his younger daughter Akshara Haasan was as an assistant director. The film looked promising to release in 2016 but was dropped when Kamal Haasan was met with an accident and delayed. The acceptable fact is that the current idea of 'Vikram' coming under 'Lokesh Cinematic Universe' was previously tried by Ulaga Nayagan, in creating a separate film for the Naidu character from his film itself. 

Another interesting combo is, when Mysskin - Kamal Haasan duo strongly pulled to the end and bring about the story based on Buddha, called 'Buddham Sharanam' set in 500 BC. The project was dropped heavy heartedly by Mysskin as he told that the production companies were not ready to bill the project. Another known fact is that 'Ponniyin Selvan' was chatted between Manirathnam and Kamal Hassan after 'Nayagan' success.

They even announced the cast. But realised that lacking VFX technologies, it would be a tough job to make the film, and eventually, they both moved on. But Manirathnam rebooted again and made it to the success ramp one month ahead of release. The filmmaker also tributed him by making him the storyteller of the Cholas in 'Ponniyin Selvan', which will be getting released on September 30, 2022. 

On the above-mentioned flicks, what's the highlight of this versatile actor’s attempt was the remake of a chartbuster American crime thriller, 'The Godfather' which was released in 1972. Spellbinding to know that Kamal thought the remake attempt in the 1980s itself and he was said to be paired with Shivaji Ganesan. But the dreamy project was made impossible when his associate twisted the thought that it would be more like 'Shivaji Ganesan' movie than Kamal’s movie. So it was not made but the pair dominated the screen with 'Thevar Magan' in 1992.

Kamal was more intricate in bringing the film taste that is experienced across the borders. Kamal's unreleased movies are far more super fascinating than his released ones, to be honest. It's quite unfortunate none of these films was made even though some of them seemed very promising. Had things gone differently, the world could have experienced Marudhanayagam, the extended journey of Sabash Naidu, a Hollywood debut, the remake of ’The Godfather’, and even Mani Ratnam's Ponniyin Selvan' in Kamal's version.