Kamal is the youngest of four children born in to an Iyengar family to Rajalakshmi and Srinivasan. His father, an attorney by profession, gave all his sons (Charu Haasan, Chandra Haasan, Kamal Haasan) the suffix of "Haasan" as a sign of his friendship to one Mr. Haasan. Kamal is also a playback singer and sometimes pens the lyrics for the soundtracks of some of his recent films. He is an able performer of the Bharatanatyam dance form. He had assisted in choreography early in his career. He is multilingual.
He began his career as a child artist in many films, while also attending a theatre for stage plays. Kamal Haasan gained the Indian cinema's attention in his first blockbuster, "Kalathur Kannamma" (1960) and since then he has acted in over two hundred Indian films.
He is the only actor other than Mammooty who received three National film awards for Best Actor. Moreover, Kamal Haasan also received a National award for best performance as a child artist. Kamal Haasan along with Mammootty, Anil Kapoor, Om Puri, and Naseruddin Shah are called the Famous Five of Indian Cinema