Remember Appu in ‘Aboorva Sagodharargal’? Here’s how Kamal pulled it off!

For long, it has been a secret that Kamal Haasan has held on to how he actually went about playing a dwarf (Appu Raja) in the 1989-film Aboorva Sagodharargal. The actor has given some clues about that at a 10x: Leadership in Innovation talk at Google.

“I take all my ideas to KB (director K Balachander) first who then chisels it,” recalled Kamal, “I took this idea of playing a short man, and he asked me – ‘What are you eating these days? I can’t even think of the mindboggling complications that will come out of it.’ He also said, ‘I will write one scene for you and you can play a short man in it and get done with it.’”

But that wasn’t enough for Kamal Haasan. He tried convincing the director repeatedly and when he failed, the project “fell into Raaj Kamal’s (his production house) lap.”

Every scene in the film was done much before CG came into the scene; they were all performed before camera. But it wasn’t easy. The actor added, “I told my team I know how to make the dwarf work. But I knew two tricks but you cannot pull off an entire film with that. I was just so excited that I knew those and wanted to put them as part of the film. It was the biggest con game I pulled on my own crew.”

The actor revealed that the first 15 days of shoot was actually scrapped. “I realised I was thinking only about how to play a short man and had left the screenplay, story to someone else. It wasn’t working. I reworked it with another writer for a month,” he said, “Appu was supposed to have a small role, but I said, he’s the hero… which means we will break our back every day. We used to shoot the scene, take it to the lab and couldn’t move on to the next shot till it came back. When someone comes back from the lab in the car, they’d have a thumb down…and that meant we had to do the entire thing again.”

Kamal Haasan and the crew were so upset with the delay that they came up with an idea – to take a clip of it and doing the washing and printing on set itself! “Towards the end of the film, we started shooting inside the film laboratory itself! I can even laugh at it now because none of it is required now.”