The king of comedy leaves his fans in tears

Friends and relatives recall their personal moments, highlight little-known facets of the artist

News of the death of Crazy Mohan plunged scores of fans in the Tamil audience in sorrow, sudden as the announcement was. Social media sites were full of tributes to him, and stars and the public together recalled some of his memorable dialogues from his films, and his plays.

Even recently, he had a very successful run with his play Chocolate Krishna that ran to packed houses, and had multiple seasons in the sabhas. While he dabbled comfortably in films, producing dialogues in his characteristic style, his true love was the stage, his colleagues recollected.

“We’ve known each other since 1975. We are from the same area [Mylapore] and used to meet at a shop. He was a good human being and an artist too, a fact not many knew. He would draw beautiful portraits of Gods,” recalled S. Ve. Shekher, actor and theatre personality.

A typical ‘Mylaporean’, Mr. Mohan was once quoted as saying that he loved Mandaveli and Mylapore so much that he’d feel homesick even if he ‘went to Mambalam’.

Mr. Mohan qualified as a mechanical engineer from the College of Engineering, Guindy, in the 1970s. But his calling was elsewhere and he started his own drama troupe Crazy Creations in 1979.

Several plays followed, as also movie scripts and his association with Kamal Hassan led to some hilarious comic sequences in Tamil films including Aboorva Sagodharargal, Sathi Leelavathi, Mahalir Mattum, Kadhala Kadhala and Vasool Raja MBBS.

Association with Kamal

Kamal Haasan and Urvasi gave heft to his script with their performances, specifically in Michael Madana Kama Rajan. The dialogues with Palghat Brahmin accent, “Yenna Kattindrukkom”, “Saambarna Mani Iyer Saambarthan. Besh Besh romba nannaa irukku” continue to make people laugh to this day.

In his condolence message Mr. Haasan said the title ‘Crazy’ would not suit him, since he is a Nagaisuvai Gnani (comic genius). “An important trait of Mohan was his childlike heart and I envy it. Not everyone is possessed with such a trait. He kept to a minimum his talents so that he could cater to the popular taste of the audience,” he said. Mr. Haasan, who said he was with Mr. Mohan during his final hours, said he would shower affection on him by generously declaring that he could be addressed as Mohanhasan (like Charuhasan and Chandrahasan, Kamal Haasan’s brothers).

Actor Delhi Ganesh, who excelled in cameo roles, admitted that he got the confidence to pull off comedy roles because of ‘Crazy’ Mohan only.

“In the film Michael Madana Kamarajan, I had to essay the role of Palakkad Mani Iyer and when actor Kamal Hassan and I were rehearsing it, he gave us numerous ideas. He asked us to bring in the Malayalam accent to Tamil and that became hugely popular. People know him as a writer and an actor but he wrote beautiful Pasurams as well,” he said.

Singeetam Srinivasa Rao, who made films like Michael Madana Kamarajan, Apoorva Sagodharargal, Magalir Mattum or Kadhala Kadhala, said Mr. Mohan’s contribution to his films had been immense and was probably the one aspect that nobody can ever replace or recreate. “He was a truly great man. Everyone loved him on the sets. We might have had a long and successful professional relationship but above all, it was the human relationship we had which I will cherish the most," he said.

Comedian Vadivelu said Mr. Mohan was an excellent writer and a comedian. “I still vividly remember shooting for the film Kadhala Kadhala with Kamal Hassan, M.S. Viswanathan and Cho Ramaswamy; he would leave the whole set in splits with his jokes . It was an unforgettable experience for me,” he said.

Well-known comedy scriptwriter Chithralaya Gopu recalled how Mohan called on him in the green room and made a vow that he would never make people laugh at someone’s expense. “Plays staged by him proved that one could be funny and kind and still make people laugh without hurting others,” he said. Mohan also carefully avoided dialogues with ‘double entendre’, quite common in Tamil films, especially in comedy tracks.

Touch of intelligence

“He really changed how a comical character speaks, by adding a great deal of intelligence to the dialogues. He made it classy,” said actor Rohini, one of the heroines of Magalir Mattum.

Television serial producer H. Ramakrishnan, who produced Here is Crazy, a popular serial on Doordarshan, said, “The troupe was very young and happy, always joking and we instantly gelled. Mr. Mohan would improvise the dialogues and even the scenes on the set,” said Mr. Ramakrishnan. DMK leader M.K. Stalin, TNCC president K.S. Alagiri and MDMK general secretary Vaiko also condoled his death.

(With inputs from Deepa H. Ramakrishnan, Poorvaja S., Madhavi Srinivas, Apoorva Vishnuvajhala and Harini V. )

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