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Kamal Haasan at India Today Conclave 2018: Turmoil Nadu: Who will fix it?

9th March 2018, Mumbai: Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan is brimming with idealism, which he believes is never a bad thing. At the seventeenth India Today Conclave in Mumbai, the megastar who has just entered the field of politics with his new party Makkal Needhi Maiam is all set to take on the establishment. "Mediocrity being set as a standard has been happening for nearly half a century in Tamil Nadu," he said. "I just want to be extraordinary." Very clear that he will not align with corrupt politicians, he made it very clear that Arvind Kejriwal, who endorsed Hassan when he launched MKM earlier this year, will be looked up to by him "until he is not worthy of it". Gently acerbic, Hassan also explained why he decided to start his own party instead of becoming part of an already existing institution. "What do I do if I'm very hungry and what is available is rotten food?" he said to a wildly amused audience.

Hassan also made it very clear that his life as an actor is now behind him and he is finally living out a life he had been neglecting for too long -- a duty he had been pursuing through social work over the last 37 years. Inspired by Ambedkar and Perriyar, he strongly opposed casteism and believes leaders like Gandhi still do exist. "The idea of a leader like Gandhi is not dead. Maybe not in Parliament but you'll find him on the streets of India," he said.

Following discussions about, what is in his opinion, the deteriorating state of politics in Tamil Nadu and a call to the DMK and AIADMK to "mend your ways", the actor also remembered fondly his co-star Sridevi. "Sridevi and I were like siblings, we grew up together. We were made to do those romantic things and we would laugh. I guess that's good acting," he said. "We did nearly 27 films together", Hassan recalled with a smile.


- It isn't important to always identify or agree with everyone you fraternise with. But you must engage, these are your people.

- The idea of losing an election should not take first place against losing your own core values and fundamental ideals.

- Ideology and passion or plans are two very different things. A party can align with someone who has the same passion, even if not the same ideology.

- The rule should be of the people and not of any individual.

- India doesn't understand the idea of centrism. You don't always have to be off-centre to be in politics.


- "I will die in the service of my state."

- We will try to form the government in the next election. The strength to speak this way comes from my people."

- I'm not entering politics as a star, I'm entering as a citizen who was taken for granted."

- "Mediocrity being set as a standard has been happening for nearly half a century in Tamil Nadu. I just want to be extraordinary."


Started as part of India Today’s 25th anniversary, INDIA TODAY CONCLAVE was designed as a meeting point for the best minds from India and around the world to map the geopolitical and economic future of the country. In its inaugural year the theme was India Tomorrow 2002: Opportunities and Threats with Vice President of the USA Al Gore as the chief Guest. In its second year the theme was India Tomorrow 2003: Global Giant or Pygmy? The Honorable William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of the United States presided as the keynote speaker. The past 14 conclaves have been widely acclaimed and popular for the quality of speakers and discussion. The speakers who have been part of this conference each year are current and former heads of state, Nobel Laureates, spiritual leaders, industry captains, social workers, economists, authors, academics, scientist, strategists, activists, cine directors, actors and sportspersons.   

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