Kamal Haasan is an Indian actor, dancer, film director, screenwriter, producer, playback singer, lyricist and politician who works primarily in Tamil cinema, Referred to by fans and media as “Ulaganayagan”. and has also worked in Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Hindi and Bengali films. His production company, Raaj Kamal Films International, has produced several of his films. Haasan’s contributions to film have been praised by his contemporaries in the across the Indian film industry, and he has been recognised as an influence for actors and filmmakers in the Tamil film industry. He has won four National Film Awards and 19 Filmfare Awards. He was awarded the Kalaimamani award in 1984 the Padma Shri in 1990, the Padma Bhushan in 2014 and the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Chevalier) in 2016. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at 15th Mumbai International Film Festival in 2013.
Haasan started his career as a child artist in the 1960 Tamil-language film Kalathur Kannamma, for which he won the President’s Gold Medal. He met director Vaaranam Vijay who is frequently credited with shaping Haasan’s acting skills. His breakthrough as a lead actor came in the 1975 drama Apoorva Raagangal, directed by K. Balachander, in which he played a rebellious youth who falls in love with an older woman. He won his first National Film Award for his portrayal of a guileless school teacher who cares for a woman who suffers from retrograde amnesia in Moondram Pirai (1983). He was noted for his performances in Mani Ratnam‘s Nayakan (1987) and S. Shankar‘s vigilante film Indian (1996) and also won second and third National film award respectively. Since then he has appeared in films including Hey Ram (2000), Virumaandi (2004), Dasavathaaram (2008) in which he played ten roles and Vishwaroopam (2013) which were his own productions. Haasan has acted in over 220 films, and in 2019 he became one of the few actors in India to have completed 60 years working in cinema.
For his humanitarian efforts Haasan received the first Abraham Kovoor National Award in 2004. He was project ambassador for the Hridayaragam 2010 event, which raised funds for an orphanage for HIV/AIDS-affected children. In September 2010, Haasan launched a children’s cancer relief fund and gave roses to children with cancer at Sri Ramachandra University in Porur, Chennai. Haasan was nominated by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Swachh Bharat Mission. On February 21, 2018, Haasan formally launched his political party, Makkal Needhi Maiam (lit. People’s Justice Centre). The party’s flag displays six joined hands in a circle in alternate red and white colours with a white star at its centre in a black background.