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Laughter, the best medicine

Humour is serious business for master dramatist Crazy R. Mohan


FROM ENGINEERING to journalism and finally to the stage is indeed a trapeze feat that sounds crazy even to a mirthless mind. But to emerge numero uno with every endeavour is no joke. Here is a man who graduated with a production engineering degree, worked in Sundaram Clayton (TVS) as a true professional, mid-way decided to be a scribe for a change and took to sub-editing for the popular Tamil magazine Ananda Viketan, went further ahead to turn a script-writer/dramatist and finally flags of a drama troupe of his own (Crazy Creations in 1979) playing comedy to tickle both the galleries and the balconies. That is Crazy R Mohan for you. He is as witty as his plays.

What prompted him to take to humour of all things? "I come from a joint family where there is bound to be lot of fun and humour in daily life simply because there are too many personalities and too many quixotic happenings around. This doesn't occur in today's nucleus families. I am a writer by accident - an accident may snuff out a man's life, here this providential accident gave a new birth to me. Laughter is like a medicine especially in stress-driven times like ours. It provides instant relief even if momentary. I consider my profession as a comedy writer as anaesthesia to innumerable problems bogging the society. Humour may not contain a message but it is like a smoothening massage. It lightens the heart and lessens the strain and stress within," quips in Mohan.

The stage-acting itch was always there even during his student days. But the thought of solid bread and butter made him thwart his conscience for the time being and get into a technological professional course. "My passion for drama was irresistible. I used to read and re-read P.G Wodehouse, O Henry and Kalki Devan (Tamil) - this trinity was my source of inspiration. Humour is an ocean where Wodehouse fished and procured pearls, while I am still like the man ashore experiencing the sea breeze," he says with reverence to the great literary masters.

Though comedy is set to humour others, writing and enacting comedy is serious business. "For if a joke does not evoke spontaneous, unguarded reaction called laughter, it turns out to be a flop show. Every dialogue, every situation and every scene has to be spiced with the right word that is humorous without bordering on vulgarity, that is polished without being crude and that is rib-tickling without causing hurt," he explains.

Mohan's plays under the banner of Crazy Creations have all the ingredients that go into making it a comedy that is never tiring even when viewed for the umpteenth time. His scripting and acting stints read like a resume.

His first break came with a-K Balachander movie. Later he scripted the dialogues for almost all popular Kamal Hasan's hits like, Apoorva Sahodarargal, Sati Leelavati, Magalir Mattum, Avvai Shanmugai, Pammal K Sambandam, Panchatantram and Arunachalam - a-Rajnikanth-starrer. He also did some cameo roles in these films.

From movies to the television was a natural move especially with the popularity charts of serials scaling dizzying heights vis--vis cinema. Short stories (nearly 100) to Tamil magazines like, Kumudam, Ananda Viketan, 800-episodes to various serials being aired on the TV is no mean achievement. He is a wizard at his art notching 40 shows last year, across the globe.

What is so unique about his comedies? "The names of the characters do not change; their characterisation does, like Laurel and Hardy. It takes me a maximum 15 days to script a play. I do bring in new productions to frequently visited places or if on public demand I am obliged to replay an old production I try to change the dialogues to add a dash of novelty. The whole idea is that fresh humour elicits fresh laughter," he sums up.

Crazy Mohan has a great fan following in all Tamil pockets judging by the capacity audience thronging his dramas. And it is indeed a welcome relief to be able to savour some unadulterated humour in a consumerism-wrought, commercialised lifestyle that has possessed our social fabric in the name of modernism.

RANEE KUMAR

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