Gautami Tadimella recently announced that she was separating from Kamal Haasan in a carefully worded blog post. Much like the actress herself, the statement was pure class. The actress refers to her former partner as Mr Haasan, and says that the decision was “heartbreaking”. Predictably perhaps, news of the separation was all people could talk about this week. And not in the most restrained way.
Gautami had written, “It is heartbreaking for me to have to say today that I and Mr. Haasan are no longer together. After almost 13 years together, it has been one of the most devastating decisions that I have ever had to make in my life.”
Later that evening, when asked about her reason, Gautami told Vikatan, “I split with him for my daughter’s sake. She has a right to live the way she wants to live and as a mom, I have a duty to do that for her.”
At a time when stars are more inclined to hide relationships and subsequent fall-outs, Gautami’s decision to be open and honest about her situation was praiseworthy.
Only, very few people saw it that way.
That strange moment when you realize that both #Gowthami and i said pretty much the same thing, on the same day, about different things 🙂
— Karthik Kumar (@evamkarthik) November 2, 2016
#Gautami was trending on social media. However, a majority of the comments directed towards the actress were in bad taste. The actress’ timeline was flooded with requests from ardent Kamal fans to not “abandon” their “thalaivar”.
Some tried to cook up reasons behind her decision, even though she had been transparent about them. One such theory was derived from Gautami’s recent meetings with PM Narendra Modi and Venkaiah Naidu. Supposedly, that was a sign of her interest in politics, which this commentator at least felt was unsustainable while in a relationship with Kamal Haasan.
— Sri (@Lakshmi2308) November 1, 2016
Another fan punned on the unceremonious beginning of their relationship. It has long been rumoured that Kamal Hasaan and former partner Sarika divorced because of his relationship with Gautami.
@gautamitads மாடியிலிருந்து சரிகா விழுந்தார் கவுதமி வந்தார்.
மாடிப்படியிலிருந்து கமல் விழுந்தார்! யார் வரபோகிறார்.
— ASR (@kannanasrfruits) November 1, 2016
Another fan seemingly approved of the whole thing. Albeit in a tangential way.
— கதாநாயகன் (@ielagon) November 2, 2016
Gautami’s explanation that she left Kamal for her daughter’s sake has also fuelled tasteless theories, with some drawing parallels with Kamal Haasan’s reputation with women. A now-deleted fan discussion on Facebook was full of sexualised comments about Haasan behaving inappropriately with Gautami’s daughter.
The media too was ready to churn out speculative pieces to find the “truth” behind what happened. One slideshow even made a list of the women in Kamal’s life and the other thing they have in common – surviving cancer.
A few news agencies handled the issue sensitively; but most crossed the line. According to this article in the Times Of India, “[s]ources say when Kamal fell and injured himself, and was hospitalised, Gautami did not immediately inform his daughters, Shruti and Akshara, which led to a war of words, later.”
But even those who largely covered the news with grace didn’t always steer clear of the occasional what-if spin. There were snide references to Kamal’s multiple marriages, and his (rumoured) numerous relationships with fellow co-stars. The names of actresses Pooja Kumar and Andrea Jeremiah, Kamal’s co-stars in Vishwaroopam 1 & 2 and Uttama Villain, were brought up.
The name that made it to the top of the list though was that of Kamal’s daughter Shruti Haasan. Much was made of the actress’ alleged rift with Gouthami from two months ago. So much so that Shruti had to issue a terse statement through her PR:
Shruti has never commented on anyone’s personal life and their decisions. For her, what matters most is standing by, loving and respecting her family – her parents and her sister, no matter what.
The oddly reticent statement, from a woman who has lived with her father for 13 years, only fuelled more speculation. Many media outlets used it to reinforce their theory that Shruti was to blame.
Kamal Haasan too didn’t help matters. Just hours after Gouthami’s announcement, Haasan used his Twitter account to tweet birthday wishes to Shah Rukh Khan.
Many more happy returns of the day Shahrukh bhai.
— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) November 2, 2016
When pressed for a comment, Kamal Haasan reportedly took a long time to to say this to Deccan Chronicle:
“Whatever gives her comfort and solace is fine by me. My feelings at the moment are of no importance. What matters is that Gautami and Subbu should be comfortable and happy. I wish them all the best and want them to know I am there for them whenever they need me. I am blessed with three daughters — Shruti, Akshara and Subbulakshmi. I consider myself the luckiest father in the world.”
As speculations reached an all-time high, a statement attributed to Kamal Haasan began circulating on social media. The press release had Kamal making strange references in describing Gouthami’s decision.
Widely shared, the statement drew so much flak from social media, that Kamal Haasan was forced to finally break his silence to dissociate himself from it. He eventually tweeted a strong condemnation and said it had been done by a miscreant:
இத்தருணத்த்தில் என் பெயரால் யாரோ அறிக்கை விட்டு விளையாடுவது விவேகமற்ற அநாகரீகச் செயல். நான் இச்சமயம் அறிக்கை ஏதும் வெளியிடுவதாய் இல்லை.
— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) November 2, 2016
An official statement from Kamal Haasan would go a long way in putting doubts and speculations to rest. But the star seems strangely reluctant to speak.
Whatever the reason, Gouthami joins a long list of women under media scrutiny because they publicly spoke about their private lives. While Gouthami got nothing but brickbats for her effort, she exits the relationship with class. Meanwhile, the spotlight remains on Kamal Haasan.
One widely-circulated tweet even congratulated Haasan for “daring to date a divorced woman”.
No congratulations for the woman who dares to divorce, or separate as in this case.
One thing the issue has shown us: News agencies and social media are far more interested in Kamal’s romantic life – real or hypothetical, with women who have a life-threatening condition or not. Less interested in Gautami’s Life Again Foundation, which believes that the skills cancer survivors learn to deal with their struggles, are worth passing on to the rest of the world.