The ‘Crazy’ Factor - A deep dive into a legend's life
How good? Crazy good!
Screenwriting is an art that happens to be the structural component required to produce a visual representation of a story. It could be considered as the tool that revolutionized the art of storytelling. An aspect with so much gravity over it, sadly, is a forgotten piece of craft in today’s world of cinema in terms of quality. But that is a grieving topic for another day. This piece is meant to be a collective realization of the work of an extravagant talent house, Mohan Rangachari aka Crazy Mohan.
Before the inception of Crazy Mohan, the comedic narrative in a full feature film had just been a supplementary track aiding the main storyline to progress in a pace that wouldn’t overwhelm the audience. This was predominantly the case with a few exceptions of course. One legendary example who churned out full-fledged comedy movies on mainstream cinema was K.Balachander. From the likes of Server Sundaram, Thillu Mullu and Bama Vijayam, Balachander broke the standard norms of mainstream cinema with his offbeat storytelling nuances. Even though the aforementioned movies are thought to be cult classics in this specific genre, Crazy Mohan’s comedy seems to sometimes to be on par or sometimes overshadow these classics with almost each of his work. The necessity to mention K.Balachander’s work here is because of Mohan’s subsequent collaborations with him marking his debut into feature films.
Why was his comedy so special that it has transcended for so long overcoming various changes in trends? To analyse and truly understand Crazy Mohan it is necessary to have watched the theatrical dramas that he created before and after walking into the cinema industry. Mohan’s work could very easily be identified as it fits a pattern and always has a repetitive styled content but weirdly not monotonous. His comedic writing has evolved from three abstractions, The Overstatement, and Style shift.
The Overstatement is essentially a technique where comedy could be induced by exaggerating a meagre subject and enticing the audience for something larger than what the issue already is. When the beat drops, the resulting product is much less than what was expected thereby mocking the subject. In Chinna Vaathiyaar, a miraculous combination of Crazy Mohan and Goundamani, a scene where marital arrangements are made with the bride’s father who is supposedly deaf says “Enna Thirupathi ngraaru?” in response to Goundamani’s “Unakku Dhripthi thane?”. With the annoyance of the deaf person, Goundamani hilariously agrees to each of his nonsensical statements.
Style Shift for me is the most ingenious presentative style that works incredibly well with Crazy Mohan’s witty wordplay. Almost every technique employed works spectacularly well because of his way with words. In the scene mentioned below, in reply to Nagesh’s question of “Epudi sirichikute solringa?”, Kamal instantly shifts his narrative style from a happy mood to a solemn and weepy mood explaining, ”Veliya thaan mama sirichitu iruken, anaa ulla aluthutu than iruken”. By changing the speaker’s style of speech and his emotion from happy to sad is exactly what a style shift technique offers.
Another important tool Crazy Mohan had at his disposal was another prodigal talent, Kamal Hasan. Kamal was able to deliver the scriptural wonders in front of the cameras to the fullest potential. Notice how every celebratory article or video on Crazy Mohan never fails to talk about Kamal? It is because their combo was and probably still is undisputedly one of the funniest in India. Their consistency they provided to the audience with each of their movies was almost impossible to recreate and yet they did.
To name a few, Sathileelavathi and Kaadhala Kaadahla are my personal favourites that the combo produced. Certain scenes in Kaadhala Kaadhala where the chaos mounts too much to comprehend and yet the sarcastic one-liners and constant word plays keep flowing like a river that never goes dry. Very few movies could actually attain that level of re-watchability. Almost as much as how F.R.I.E.N.D.S or The Office has attained a level in people’s hearts that it’s being watched over every meal in their homes, it is safe to assume that Tamil people definitely love Panchathanthiram or Vasool Raja M.B.B.S as much as they love the western sitcoms.
There never could’ve been a “too much of Crazy Mohan” narrative ever. But everyone has to succumb to nature’s grip and sadly Crazy too passed away leaving behind his legacy that forever changed Tamil cinema as we know it.
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Tyrion Maximus August 9, 2020
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