Reporting by Janani K. Photos by Sriram Narasimhan.
The Papanasam event began with a screening of the trailers for the film. The anchor introduced the cast and crew, who walked up to the stage amidst much applause from the audience. When it was their turn, Kamal Haasan and Gouthami were given a standing ovation by the rest of the cast, along with tumultuous applause from the audience.
Looking handsome and distinguished, a white-haired Kamal Haasan was often seen ‘murukifying his meesai’. (Well, it looked like he was in Maari get up!)
Writer Suha said that despite being an excellent writer himself, Kamal Haasan didn’t intervene in the writing. The trio of Jeethu Joseph, Jayamohan and Suha had a free hand with their work.
When it was veteran actors MS Bhaskar and Delhi Ganesh’s turn to address the gathering, they both heaped praise on Kamal Haasan, saying that partnering with him had been a life changing experience. MS Bhaskar went to the extent of calling the actor his ‘God’. Kamal Haasan jokingly replied, “MS Bhaskar keeps calling me God, even though I constantly say that I don’t believe in them.” Delhi Ganesh said that no one in the industry could question Kamal, given his stature, and that even today, he was the only actor who rehearsed each and every shot.
Actresses Nivetha Thomas and Baby Esther, looking like real-life siblings, added that they were thankful to director Jeethu Joseph for the opportunity. They too said that it had been wonderful it was to learn from Kamal Haasan himself.
Gouthami, looking gorgeous in a white sari, respectfully addressed Kamal Haasan as ‘Sir’. (Quite shocking right?) Looking straight at him, she thanked him for Papanasam. She said, “It feels so good to meet the press as an actress after a long time. Papanasam is a comeback in many more ways.” She spoke about how challenging it had been to master the Tirunelveli dialect, and added that Kamal Haasan’s acting in this movie would be a total spin-off from everything he has done so far. She also complimented Nivetha Thomas and Baby Esther for their spontaneous and realistic acting.
Finally it was Kamal Haasan’s turn to talk to the press. He said, “Everybody who spoke before me thanked me, making Papanasam look like a one man’s effort. But, it is because of the talented actors’ effort and hard work. I am proud of their talent, which is a big asset to the movie.” He also said that he had felt guilty of not letting Gouthami act before. Then with a smile, he remarked that Baby Esther was the senior-most, as far as the cast of Papanasam were concerned.
This was followed by a quick session of Q&A, and the audience was in for a treat, as Kamal Haasan’s funny side emerged in-between some serious responses. He also shared his opinion on a few social issues:
- On the subject of wearing helmets, he stated that this shouldn’t be a rule. He remarked that people wear slippers to protect their toes, but when it comes to their head, they have second thoughts!
- The movie revolves around a video that is captured without prior consent. The actor said that technology keeps evolving and we must use it appropriately. “Sometimes I feel irritated when people take pictures and selfies of celebrities, and then ask their permission. People have misinterpreted [thinking] that they can take pictures of anyone without any [concern for] privacy.”