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First Rate/A Class Humour: Crazy Mohan

June 11, 2019

India lost 2 wonderful and resourceful actors yesterday: Girish Karnad and Crazy Mohan. Karnad could be having all-India following but Crazy ruled the world of the Tamil diaspora with his timely wisecrack. Such was his sense of humour that he would have us roaring in splits in matter of minutes… you wouldn’t even be out of his first joke but then he would already have unleashed a couple of more on unsuspecting you! And through all this, he would never ever poke fun at or offend anyone, strictly no political innuendos and no double meaning dialogues.

Crazy shot to fame in the late 1970s. We were members of the Sabhas then, as typical Mylaporeans. Every week therefore we attended classical music, dance and stage plays. The era of Tamil dramas was drawing to a close already as the silver screens turned into crowd pullers. Tamil stage scene lasted a few more breaths thanks to those like Crazy who gave it a longer lease of life.

As a kid therefore, I got to watch Crazy Mohan dramas live on stage. ‘Janaranjagam’ is one term i can use for his plays or his acting. He was very refined in his humour/screenplay/dialogues. Back to back at a lightening speed, yet didn’t have to resort to cheaper tactics. Somehow he pulled it which I am sure, none in this generation can manage. His instant improvisation was his biggest plus. For, humour has come to mean cracking jokes at the expense of others, offending others in the present. Bodyshaming is humour. Double meaning dialogues that can make you squirm in your seat with their brazen vulgarity is humour. It is only in last few years I truly understand the greatest service Crazy rendered. Clean, unadulterated humour. Crazy’s.

He also happened to live near my friend’s place. His was a joint family. His brother Madhu also always played a role in Crazy’s plays. In my teens, I have seen Crazy many times sitting on his scooter or starting his scooter outside his house. He was already a public figure doing very well. A kind of mini celebrity. But he was just like any of us mortals. No air about his status. I used to wonder, why he still led such a simple life. They showed his house in tv. He looks just like sleeping in death. Same old house with small rooms that’s not even big enough to hold the mourning crowds. What a way to live. It is now learned, he contributed hugely to organ donation and Madras Cancer Institute, Adyar. Somehow, this man just had no negativity about him at all. Lovable by all. It is easy to guess, how must have been at home, as a family man. Watched his video where he stresses the joint family values in his address to school children. I grew up in a joint family, my son grew up in a joint family too and my husband as well. Somehow I feel, that makes us different than others. It has its ups and downs but it is necessary at least for a few initial years of one’s married life. Crazy family still is a single unit. Adorable! In his personal life too, looks like Crazy was a very kind and generous man.

In our school farewell, a gang of us enacted a part of his first ever drama production, ‘Crazy thieves in Palavakkam’ which got him the title ‘crazy.’ We were such a poor crew, yet we earned such an applause. The dialogues were the reason.

An engineer by profession, Crazy found his interest in scripting and directing and acting in stage plays with humour that became his trademark. He also made his entry into Tamil film world. His screenplay-dialogue could be deadly combination that the Tamil audience would never forget. The hilarious Kamal Hasan-Crazy Mohan team would drive us literally crazy in the period 1995-2005.

I love watching his re-runs even now. Evergreen comedy. Names like Janaki (Janu), Madhu etc., are so very familiar to Tamil audience. Crazy Mohan will be missed not only by his family but also by his fans. Unique. His unique comedy that set him apart from others will be missed. 67 is not really the age to die. Perfectly healthy man, vegetarian with no bad habits… still heart attack? Scary.

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