Kamal Haasan will be award ed the Chevalier de L’Ordre Arts et Lettres (The Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) by the French government at a special ceremony. The Order is part of France’s premier award, the Legion of Honor. It has three ranks – Chevalier (Knight), Officier (Officer), Commandeur (Commander) – and two high offices. It recognises eminent artistes and writers, as well as those who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world.
Other Indians honoured include Sivaji Ganesan (1995), Nandita Das (2008), Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan (2012) and Anurag Kashyap (2013). Notable recipients from across the world include filmmakers Aleksander Petrovic (1969), David Niles (1984) and Ang Lee (2012) and actors Uma Thurman (2006), Jude Law (2007), George Clooney (2007) and Cate Blanchett (2012). “I’m proud to be in the company of more deserving forerunners like Satyajit Ray (Legion of Honor) and Sivaji Ganesan (Chevalier). Also, the others, with or without an award. Shah Rukh (Officier) is a friend, so is Anurag. It’s a pity Aishwaryaji andI haven’t done a film together yet. She was supposed to be in Hindustani but the dates did not work out,” he told Mirror speaking from his Chennai home.
The 61-year-old actor-filmmaker pointed out that the award is special because historically the French have been forerunners in politics, arts and equality, among many more. “I dedicate this award to my admirers who gave me the tenacity of purpose to pursue this day and moment, my Arts and Letters,” he asserted. “It humbles me rather than stiffen me with pride.”
He remembered his teachers and admirers who with “motherly care have applauded my every little step forward” . And while he was melancholy that his parents were not alive to see this day, he was happy that the elders and the youngsters of his family are around to enjoy it.
“My brother and partner Charuhasan, who’s not given to hyperbole, was really happy and proud when he called. Gautami, Shruti and Subbu (Subbalakshmi) were also happy. My sister (Nalini Raghu) who’s always to the point said, `Nice crutch.’ She was perhaps punning on the phrase `break a leg’ used among artisties. Also, it was her way of telling me to use it as a crutch and not flaunt it with pride like a crown. Cheval in French means horse,” he laughed.
Does he speak French, you wonder, and he admits he’s illiter ate in most languages till he acts in them but admits that it’s time to learn French.
He also reveals that he is nervous and lazy about writing speeches. “But occasions like this don’t deserve an extempore speech.
Let me enjoy the moment and post pone thinking of the speech closer to the occasion,” he said.
Earlier in March, he was honoured with the Henri Langlois Award for his contribution to Indian cinema.