Gautami comes across as a disarmingly honest person.

Why Gautamis dignified announcement about her break up with Kamal didnt surprise me
Blog Blog Wednesday, November 02, 2016 - 11:18

In a particularly intimate scene with actor Kamal Haasan in a song from "Apoorva Sagodarargal" (1989), Gautami – still a fledgling actor – would remove her overcoat to reveal a strapless top and her bare arms. The scene, I remember vividly, left many women squirming and men wide-mouthed in the theatre. Since then, Gautami has never stopped doing it - making an impact. Kamal Haasan had been doing lip lock scenes since 1978 (MGR, then chief minister, apparently even chided Kamal for his lip lock scene in "Sattam En Kaiyil") but it was with Gautami in "Kurudhi Punal" (1994) that he perhaps achieved the perfect chemistry.  

For those who have known Gautami, her decision to start a live-in relationship with Kamal Haasan thirteen years ago should come as no surprise. Neither should her decision to candidly announce their separation on Tuesday.

Kamal Haasan has often spoken of his lack of faith in marriage and insisted that both his previous marriages (to Vani Ganapathi and later Sarika) were a compromise on his beliefs.  In fact, he got married to Sarika only after their first child Shruti Haasan was born. Gautami is known to wear her heart on her sleeve. After a short-lived marriage to a businessman, she perhaps thought it only fit to move in with Kamal Haasan with whom she shared a special friendship since their film days together.

What perhaps shielded Gautami from the onslaught of the "cultural" mafia that had held actors like Khushbu at ransom on different issues was the Kamal factor. Since his coming of age as an actor, Kamal Haasan has made what can be deemed as outrageous statements by moral brigades on love and marriage, and has managed to get away with it.  In stark contrast was Khushbu, whose innocuous remarks on pre-marital sex, landed her in huge trouble, driving her from one court to another. I have often wondered if things would have been different for Gautami if it was not Kamal Haasan in question. 

Of course, the moral brigade did try their bit. After the airing of a reality show on Vijay TV in 2013, where the couple shared their experiences of being in a live-in relationship (yes they said that on air), a fringe Hindu group filed a complaint against them for ‘polluting’ Hindu culture. But the police would have none of it. Kamal Haasan was perhaps the ‘saving’ factor. (And this I say with an innate sense of shame because I wish the likes of Khushbu and Gautami too enjoyed such a status.) 

But then, Gautami was also a personality of her own, a strong one at that. The strength came through shining gloriously when she was recuperating from breast cancer and fearlessly spoke of it, encouraging women to prioritise their health. Among celebrities who always hid their personal side - from health to relationships – Gautami was a class apart. 

When I met her for an interview in mid 2000s, she came across as a disarmingly honest person. I confronted her on the male domination in Tamil cinema and she confessed that she had not been old enough to choose roles that had more meaning in her heydays. She seemed worried about the trend of heavily hero-centric films and thought women should direct films more for that to change. 

She encouraged me to ask about her cancer when I was slightly hesitant about it. By doing so, she made me realise it was okay for celebrities to be open with their fans. It was her way of returning their love. To make them a bit more aware and bust a few more myths about cancer. 

Her act of disclosing her relationship status was yet again, as I see it, a demonstration of love and respect for her fans. By doing so, she was perhaps unknowingly busting a few myths about live-in relationships too and walking out of it, just as she did with breast cancer. 

Note: The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the author.

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