The youthful and adolescent years of Kamal Hassan were spattered with heartbreaks. In 1972, Kamal Hassan was signed as a hero in K.S. Gopalan's Kurathi Magan but was subsequently cancelled for another hero called Sridhar. The director Gopalan felt that Kamal Hassan could not actually portray the glamour of a hero and made him the second hero of the film. Kamal Hassan spend days of depression after that. During this period, he met director Shridhar, who advised him that he could exploit his talents better off behind the camera.
Kamal Hassan was again signed as a hero for another untitled film. He was awestruck to see that on the day of the shoot, no car came to pick him up. After reaching the Satya Studios by an auto, he found the shooting was already underway with someone else as the hero. Kamal Hassan was not even explained as to why he had been replaced. He was totally broken after this incident. Strangely, a few years later the same director approached Kamal for a Malayalam film titled Vishnu Vijayam. However, it was Kamal Hassan's nature to forgive all, he accepted the film, and it was released in 1974.
There were good days too in Kamal Hassan's life. It was the mid-seventies that the loud melodrama was not much popular against the more realistic and naturalistic style of filmmaking. Kamal Hassan was eighteen years old, when K. Balachander-one of Tamil Nadu's most reputed and dynamic directors offered him a small role in his film Arangetram. The character given to him was that of the heroine's brother and Balachander was searching an actor with a good physique. Kamal Hassan with his years of training in dancing fitted this role.
Kamal Hassan realized that he was amidst great talent - Balachander, who further gave him the role of a villain in another film titled Sollathan Ninaikkiren. Balachander enjoyed his reputation of extracting the best from his artists, and in Kamal Hassan he could see a rough diamond that he could polish into a priceless gem. Balachander pushed his actors and made sure he got more than what he expected from them. Irrespective of how many hours or days it took, Balachander focused on perfection. Kamal Hassan was highly benefited from having such a stiff taskmaster as his mentor. And more roles followed him such as Paruvakalam and Naan Avanillai.
K. Balachander cast him again and again in his films. His next role was small but very interesting part of a ventriloquist in love with a widow in Aval Oru Thodarkathai. It was a character role, but young Kamal Hassan played with élan. Kamal Hassan also played the role of a perverted man in Balachander's Manmathaleelai. His performance was as fine and as polished like a matured actor that even the veterans envied. And at the tender age of twenty-one, Kamalahasan was quoted by the film industry as 'the actor with an incredible range' and 'dynamic upcoming talent'.
Balachander kept on training Kamal Hassan with every possible role and polished his skills by making him practice a series of diverse roles. Though none of them were lead roles, but went a long way in shaping Kamal's future identity as a superb actor. Balachander almost exploited Kamal Hassan's talent alike a product placement of a brand in different strategic positions.
Kamal Hassan has also proved abilities in the Malayalam cinema that he thinks to be a very important step in his growth as an actor. Director Sankaran Nair took him as an assistant director in one of his films and gave Kamal Hassan so many responsibilities. Even though he was merely twenty-two years old, he completed his task flawlessly. Nair made him look at the various shot designs and look through the camera to make sure the angle was right. Each time Kamal Hassan gave a suggestion and Nair listened. Sometimes, he also approved them. Kamal Hassan recalls with gratitude the loads of praise that Nair bestowed on him whenever he suggested something that met with Nair's approval.
The years from 1970s to 1980s was called the Classic period in Kamal Hassan's life.