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On the comedy trail

`Crazy' Mohan talks about his first love — theatre — and his plans to direct a movie.

IT WAS a rather `crazy' decision. A drama enthusiast and an M.Tech employed in Sundaram Clayton decided to quit his job and start a drama troupe, taking everyone by surprise. Thanks to the support provided by his grandfather, R. Mohan, the man with a body full of funny bones, was able to give shape to his dreams. "My grandfather was a great source of strength. He backed my decision," he reminisces.

Now `Crazy' Mohan, the man who has entertained viewers in many stage plays and penned hilarious scripts for the big screen, is all set to direct a film. "The story has been finalised. Discussions are on and almost my entire troupe will be in the cast. However, the lead actors are yet to be decided," he says in a recent interview. The comedian was in town to take part in the Cancer Survivors Day celebrations organised by the Vasantha Memorial Trust.

"It will be a full-fledged comedy movie. I want to make something like the legendary Kaadhalikka Neramillai," he remarks.

And, making the switch to the big screen is not a short-term plan. "If my first film clicks, I will start directing more movies in this genre," he says.

Mr. Mohan attributes his sparkling sense of humour to the joint family in which he grew up.

"We had a big family... these days it is hard to see many," he rues. Asked why he insisted on retaining the characters of `Maadhu' and `Cheenu' in all his plays, the humourist says the "comedy twins" concept always works out well.

"Take Laurel and Hardy and Goundamani and Senthil, you do not even know their characters. It helps in easier viewer identification. Though the characters are the same, the stories are different. That's the trick of the trade," he observes.

What does he feel about innuendos creeping into movie dialogues? "I deliberately avoid them. My definition of humour is different. It should be like watching a child — happy and innocent."

Among the present crop of comedians, he rates Vivek highly. "His comedy is very healthy. He focusses on timing, delivery and dialogue."

Talking about the role a comedian should play, he states: "The duty of a comedian is to provide solace. He should provide a kind of massage, not just a message."

Mr. Mohan is also sore that comedians have not been given due recognition.

"Comedians are highly successful in cinema but they have not been accorded the right status. Nagesh, with his rib-tickling comedy, entertained people for more than two decades. He has not been honoured appropriately," he regrets. "People don't realise it is very difficult to do comedy."

On staging plays abroad, he says that the response from the people is very encouraging. "They long to hear Tamil and enjoy the skits," he remarks with a smile.

With people looking up to satellite television and cinema for their entertainment, how does he manage to pack in the crowds for his plays? "Do not blame the viewers. If you stage good plays, they will respond well," he asserts.

M. ALLIRAJAN

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