Report by Sanjana Chakraborty
At the memorial event hosted in honour of Chandra Haasan this morning, the music was solemn. It was a solemn occasion indeed, one in which Kamal Haasan was impassive, and Anu Haasan let her tears flow. Akshara Haasan, Kamal Haasan’s younger daughter, comforted her aunt while Nirmal, Anu’s brother, looked on. From the video montages of Chandra Haasan’s life, it wasn’t difficult to see the resemblance between Nirmal and his father, and between Anu and her mother.
Ten days after Chandra Haasan’s funeral in the United Kingdom, where he died of a heart attack, the memorial event in Chennai was all about getting to know the unassuming Haasan brother.
Appa, Anna, Uncle, Trichy Thatha… Chandra Haasan had various titles to him, we learnt. Unbeknownst to many, his first job was one that of washing dishes at a small eatery when he was young, so that he could earn money to eat with his friends. “He was also a motorcycle salesman in Delhi and a good one too,” his son assured in his eulogy. A music enthusiast, a singer, a lawyer, and someone who enjoyed playing cricket and tennis, Chandra Haasan was also an executive with Rajkamal International, Kamal’s film production and distribution company.
After a silent prayer, a flurry of speeches ensued. Chandra Haasan was a very patient man who never got angry, everyone said. “He regarded professionalism with utmost importance. We’ve had several discussions in which he’d go on a passionate debate. He’d say: ‘After all these years, why aren’t we able to achieve professionalism in the industry?’ This was his dream, and something I will strive to achieve,” Nasser said.
Suhasini Mani Ratnam (Chandra Haasan’s niece) then declared that she was his lucky mascot.
When requested to speak, the fashionably-late Rajinikanth was as honest as he could be in his tribute. “I met him twice. And I can say with confidence that whatever savings Kamal has, financially speaking, is still there by his side thanks to Chandra Haasan. Kamal considers three persons as his father or pillars – K Balachander, Charu Haasan and Chandra Haasan.”
“You’ve seen only 10 per cent of his [Kamal’s] anger. I’ve seen him go 100 per cent,” Rajini said to thunderous applause.
It was then Kamal’s turn to talk. “Here I am as unprepared as I was when he passed away. He was the first actor in the family and someone who always believed in lesser worlds. If others gave advice, it would sound like advice. But when he did, it always sounded like an opinion. Chandra Haasan will remain my shadow always. Through him, I have accepted that death is a part of life.”