Tamil cinema

Gautami distances herself from former partner Kamal Haasan, talks about ‘unrelenting torment’

‘I have absolutely nothing to do with him or his actions in any way,’ the actress said on her blog.

In a blog posted on Saturday, Kamal Haasan’s former partner Gautami denied any continued personal or professional association with the actor and filmmaker. The couple ended their 13-year relationship in October 2016, partly because, according to Gautami, “our personal code of conduct and commitment had become completely divergent”. Describing the latter period of her relationship as “an unrelenting torment with a shattered self-respect”, Gautami also accused Haasan’s production banner, Raajkamal Films International, of withholding her fees for designing the costumes of its many productions.

The blog could potentially be seen as an embarrassment for Haasan, who launched his political party, Makaal Needhi Maiam, on February 21. “I have absolutely nothing to do with him or his actions in any way – professionally, personally, politically or otherwise,” wrote Gautami, who has a daughter from her previous marriage. She has tweeted her praise for Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders in the past, and has raised questions about the circumstances surrounding the death of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa in 2016 in an open letter addressed to the prime minister. Here is the full text of her latest blog.

Gautami in her own words

Past is Past – and there are strong reasons for it.

I am deeply distressed by recent news items that seem to imply that I continue to be associated with Mr. Kamal Haasan in either a personal or professional connection. I categorically state that this is completely false and I have had no contact with Mr. Haasan since we formally parted ways in October of 2016. The period since my walking out has been consumed by my efforts to rebuild a stable and secure environment for my daughter and myself. An environment where we could breathe free of the stress and tension of a greatly traumatic situation.

My single greatest focus during this period has been to establish a stable income to ensure my child’s financial stability. During the nearly thirteen years of our life together, the work that I did as Costume Designer, was only for films produced by Raajkamal Films International, (RKFI), and for films that Mr. Haasan made for other producers. And this was my primary source of income as my working both in front of and behind the camera in other’s projects was actively discouraged. In addition to this, it grieves me greatly to have to say that as of October, 2016, I had salary dues pending right from earlier films like Dasavataram, Vishwaroopam, etc.

As these pending salary dues were the only financial resource at the time for rebuilding my life, I had made repeated efforts to recover the payments from Mr. Haasan and RKFI. I am deeply anguished to say that inspite of repeated entreaties and requests, there is still a significant amount from my due salary pending payment. The only other business engagement I have had with Mr. Haasan is to have served as Director in a company started in 2010 to launch an online portal for literary content dissemination. Though a certain amount of work was put into this effort for portal development and content generation, it did not attain fruition and the project was dropped shortly after and I have not been involved in any further activities of the company. I have not received any salary or remuneration from this association since. And I have resigned from the position at the time of my departure in 2016. To the possible question about how such a situation could have developed, I can only say that it was the extent of trust and faith that I had in a person for whom I had a high regard.

‘An unrelenting torment’

I had taken the decision to walk out and make my own life because it had become painfully clear to me over a time period even prior to October 2016 that our personal code of conduct and commitment had become completely divergent. In my commitment to our relationship, I had believed that we shared the values and ideals that I have held dear all my life. Mutual respect, love, commitment and honesty are indispensable in any relationship and especially in sharing a life. And when these are absent, everyday life becomes an unrelenting torment with a shattered self-respect. The reason for the failure of this relationship does not lie with anybody else, especially with Shruti. So much has been said about her supposed differences with me that led to this breakup but that is not true. No third person, especially children, can ever be responsible for the state of a personal relationship between adults. Both Shruti and Akshara are wonderful young ladies who I knew as children and I continue to look upon them as such till today. Neither of them have any responsibility for the breakdown of the relationship. That rests entirely on Mr. Haasan’s change in commitment and my inability to accept that compromise and destroy my self-respect.

I had committed to the relationship and stood by that commitment through thick and thin. Mr. Haasan’s leg breaking in such a horrible incident was among the most traumatizing experiences of my life. It was a needless and senseless accident that took years off my life to witness. I had stood by him through the whole terrible period till he was well and completely back on his feet as it did not occur to me to do otherwise. I have stood silently behind him through all of his difficult times through the years without even once claiming so in private or public.

‘Love not respected’

My crusade to raise awareness of cancer is because I want to save those lives that are being needlessly lost – lost due to fear and ignorance. Every life that we can save is a family that is saved. I fought cancer successfully because of several reasons. My parents brought me up with a practical approach towards health and because I had a strong and loving support in my whole family that rallied around me every step of the way. My beloved aunts who neglected their own homes and families to ensure that mine did not lack anything because I was incapacitated. Who ensured that I never had to step foot inside the hospital alone; whether for one day or ten days. My baby daughter who was the motivation that kept me fighting forward. It was truly during this time that I realized how blessed I am and how many people I had that would stand by me unquestioningly through thick and thin.

In spite of facing significant challenges, I have never been deterred from my decision to make my life alone. I would rather fight an honorable battle for survival alone than continue to exist with the heartache of compromising my self-respect in a relationship where my love and commitment is not respected and reciprocated. I have maintained a dignified silence through the past seventeen months on these matters and more, as I have always tried to look ahead with a positive and progressive attitude though this has been extremely difficult during some periods that I have had to face.

I have chosen to speak out now because the speculation concerning my association with Mr. Kamal Haasan continues unabated and many people continue to labour under the wrong belief that I support and/or subscribe to his words, actions and decisions. Indeed, a wrong belief that I am a part of Mr. Haasan’s life in any way. I have absolutely nothing to do with him or his actions in any way – professionally, personally, politically or otherwise.

‘A long road ahead’

I have grown up seeing my mother standing up for women and supporting girl child education in many ways. My father dedicated his medical expertise to serving remote tribal communities. Their inspiration has always guided me and over the past several years, particularly after my recovery from cancer, I have been increasingly working to raise awareness of several social and health issues. One needs an effective education and good health to build a life that is full and satisfying and this is the focus of our Life Again Foundation, LAF, the organization that I have founded and being carried forward by our many members across several states and countries. Health, education and agriculture with a particular focus on personal and community-based development, are our areas of work since past three years and we are in the process of launching our projects in education and healthcare support after extensive study and preparation. We have been active in both urban as well as rural environments and I know we have a long, challenging and fulfilling road ahead. A road that I am fully prepared for and committed to traveling. My guiding tenets in socio-political reform are the empowerment of the individual through education and strengthening of the community through inclusive domestic, agrarian, and financial development.

I am a single mother, fighting to build a safe and secure life for my child and I. I have returned to work in front of the camera – which I have greatly missed all these years – and I have found my life’s commitment in my work with my Life Again Foundation. In working for every child’s education and every person’s health. The support I get everyday from people around me gives me the strength to keep doing better.

This letter is from my heart, sharing the pain that I have carried alone all these days. I am deeply grateful for the love and support that I have received from countless people everyday and I value every kind regard shown to me. I have realized the value of each day that I am on this earth and there is nothing I will carry with me when I close my eyes in my final sleep except the love that all of you give me. The blessings you shower will protect our children. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your love and support through every stage of my life since I entered public life as a young girl and I will walk with you for the rest of this life.

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