Tamil film actor Dr. Kamal Haasan was the guest of honor at the 75th anniversary of Indian Independence celebration, held in Milpitas on Aug. 13.
The burning heat of the afternoon was alleviated for many by cool sips of mango lemonade, piping hot bhatura, back-to-back onstage entertainment and, of course, the anticipation of seeing the film legend, who was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2014. Haasan was in town to not only to celebrate 75 years of Indian Independence but also his film career and the success of his latest movie, “Vikram.”
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A swarming crowd was ready to celebrate with him. As a white limousine pulled into the back of the event stage, fans gathered behind an orange barricade eager to get a glimpse. A red carpet was rolled out onto the asphalt as various AIA team members lined up on both sides to greet the actor.
Right before walking down the carpet, fans pushed through the barriers, forcing security to push them back. As the actor walked down, dozens of flower petals fell upon him, underscoring his almost god-like status, further iterated by shouts of “Andavar” — God — from the crowd.
Singer and YouTuber Vidya Vox performed before Kamal Haasan appeared. She drew a large crowd of fans, dancing onstage and singing the classic song “Annaaththe Aaduraar” from the 1989 Haasan film “Apoorva Sagodharargal,” composed by Ilaiyaraaja and originally sung by S.P. Balasubrahmanyam in the movie.
As Haasan ascended the stage looking sharp in a light gray suit and cooling glasses, screams of “Vikram” for his latest movie and “Big Boss” were heard as well.
After being introduced and honored by Dr. T.V. Nagendra Prasad, Consul General of India at San Francisco, the actor thanked his fans throughout his career, from when he started as a young child in movies to now. “My career is only 12 years younger to Indian Independence,” he quipped.
To the younger generation of movie lovers, he mentioned, “Some of them don’t know me: That’s why I keep acting in them to remind them.”
Selfies were not allowed, yet fans nonetheless slipped through to the front of the platform stage taking selfies with the actor in the background. One enterprising woman already onstage, quickly sidled up next to the actor, taking a selfie before being pushed back.
While Kamal Haasan was one of the main attractions, the entire event was a celebration of Indian culture and history. Dancers representing various folk and classical traditions performed onstage showcasing India’s diversity. Representatives from several states and communities in the Bay Area walked onstage with an image of India’s flag waving in the background.
Rangoli (folk art form) and Carrom (tabletop game) competitions were held, along with entertainment including a Hogwarts train, bubble water bouncing and rock climbing.
As Haasan told the crowd before leaving, “I come here out of love.” The love and pride the crowd felt about India could be heard through shouts of “Jai Hind” and “Vande Mataram” celebrating India’s Independence.
This article originally appeared on India Currents on Aug. 17.