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Updated: April 14, 2012 17:27 IST

Comedy is serious business

K. R. Manigandan
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Santhanam
Santhanam

His one-liners may be light-hearted, but actor Santhanam does not take his craft lightly, says K.R. Manigandan

His presence in almost every big film waiting to hit the screens is proof of his soaring popularity. Santhanam, without doubt, has become a star in his own right.

From Rajesh's Oru Kal Oru Kannadi, starring Udhayanidhi Stalin and Hansika Motwani, to Sundar C's Masala Café, the man has the unenviable task of making people laugh — a task that is not as simple as it seems. Santhanam says, “The love fans shower on me is fulfilling, and the faith directors and producers have in me is inspiring. But deep down, I'm scared. With every hit, expectations rise, and the pressure of meeting them worries me.”

His concern is valid. Most directors entrust the comedian with not just a role to play in their films but a mission to accomplish — the mission of entertaining the masses and drawing them to theatres at a time when the art of filmmaking is being threatened by video piracy. That's probably why he cannot afford to take his business lightly.

Santhanam says, “Comedy is actually serious business and involves a lot of homework. I have a team of childhood friends with whom I sit and work on my lines and comedy.” The seven-member team has specialists in punch lines, counter dialogue and slapstick comedy. “Murugan, Anand, Sethu, Sundar, Udhay, Guna and Balaji are the friends with whom I have my discussions. Sometimes, the lines we speak may appeal to us, but not to others. My team helps me gain a clear idea. They also draw my attention to fresh phrases in vogue and give me suggestions on sharp retorts. From ideas to intonation, we work on everything. For instance, the ‘nanbenda' phrase from Boss Engira Baskaran, which went on to become a  roaring hit, evolved after many such deliberations.”

Talking of Boss Engira Baskaran, one is compelled to ask about the rapport he shares with director Rajesh and the experience of working on his latest film, Oru Kal Oru Kannadi. “We share a very special bond. We think alike. Rajesh first got in touch with me after watching my TV show, ‘Lollu Sabha.' That was when he was making Siva Manasula Sakthi. After the film became a hit, we worked together on Boss Engira Baskaran and now on Oru Kal Oru Kannadi.

“Rajesh loves comedy. Even when he had to trim the length of Boss Engira Baskaran, he cut out the fights and retained the comedy part. Most directors would have gone the other way round,” says Santhanam. He has been part of all three films Rajesh has made so far, and he will also feature in the latter's next film, titled All in All Azhagu Raja, starring Karthi.

 It's difficult to believe that two people working together so often can be friends without having so much as a disagreement. Toss this question to Santhanam, and he smiles, saying, “I am someone who shoots off my ideas. Rajesh is someone who will hear you out. He will first listen to you even if he has a different take on the issue, and then present his viewpoint. Later, we come to a conclusion on which of the two is better.”

Who knew making people laugh was such serious work?

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Rock-solid humourApril 14, 2012

Vadivelu's comedy was something unique. We could always have a hearty laugh, at his expense, usually. His timing and particularly his mannerism, smart dialogues were all enjoyable. Lately, even his act had become repetitive. So is with Vivek's. Vivek's comedy is a little intelligent, appealing to urban folk. Unfortunately, Santhanam's comedy does not evoke much laughter, though he is now going strenth to strength - partly on Vaidvelu's absence. Of late, Santhanam gets meaty comedy roles, and he is adept in filling the role adequately. May be he should choose his role carefully; comedy that is part of a story line would, I think, fetch him good standing.

from:  D. Chandramouli
Posted on: Apr 16, 2012 at 10:38 IST

Honestly speaking to my knowledge "VADIVEL" is the best comedian evergreen star. He became the victim of the dirty politician and it gave the way for "Mr. Santhanam" to become the star.

When i watch vadivel comedy i laugh with the heart. However, santhanam you smile. thats the difference you can point.

from:  BABA
Posted on: Apr 15, 2012 at 18:44 IST

Anybody who knows anything about comedy knows it is a demanding art and a very hard one and has to be taken seriously. If it was easy, we would have comedy instead of constant tragedy and anger and negativity on Tamil serials bombarding us! While some of our comedy actors take this seriously, they are hampered by lack of training in acting, a serious lack of knowledgeable writers who know the genre, and having to fit in with some director's perception of what is funny.It also doesn't help when some people in decision making positions do not know the difference between 'silly' and 'funny'. Most of the so called comedy in movies does not evoke laughter from our audiences. Anybody notice?

from:  B S Kumar
Posted on: Apr 15, 2012 at 12:05 IST

One of the worst comedians of all times, I don't think anybody enjoys his jokes. He is around just because Vadivelu is not around.

from:  xavier surender
Posted on: Apr 15, 2012 at 10:25 IST

I do enjoy santhanam's comedy. But I would like to take this
oppurtunity to condemn him for his vulgar talk regarding parents
particularly father. It is not nice to refer to a father in poor
taste. Not only santhanam even Vivek is famous for father bashing. I
know of a lot of children who are misguided and influenced by this
nonsensical form of comedy by santhanam and vivek. I am sure many of
your readers agree with me that in our tamil culture we respect father
and treat him with utmost respect. I hope some public service minded
organization will take up this matter and prevent the cinema fellows
from portraying father in poor taste.

from:  shankar kare
Posted on: Apr 15, 2012 at 02:37 IST

santhanam's brand of 'insulting' comedy is a new genre to tamil moviedom. it is more complex bordering on darkness, and has a depth never seen before in tamil cinema. or even in bollywood. certainly a man of great intelligence, santhanam, i am told, is permitted to develop his own script and role in the movies that he acts. good for him :)

from:  rajamani
Posted on: Apr 14, 2012 at 23:38 IST

Give me a break. Santhanam "imitates", "copies" another comedian Goundamani. Repeatedly Santhanam gets lot of free wind all "proclaiming" that he is great. Just sit back, relax and look and ignore the 'copy cats'.

from:  Shankar
Posted on: Apr 14, 2012 at 20:21 IST

I really like your films, watching you in movies is a bit of stress relief to me, keep up the good work. Please do not accept any offers that turn you into a Hero, because we would miss your comedy.

from:  Kiran
Posted on: Apr 14, 2012 at 18:41 IST

Congrats to your hardwork!!!we people laugh when we see your comedies but we came to know now how hard it is to make others laughing.

from:  Mahendran A
Posted on: Apr 14, 2012 at 17:23 IST
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