Cities » Chennai

Updated: August 20, 2012 10:49 IST

The Mylapore home bird

Crazy Mohan
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Proud 'Madrasi'. Photo: S.S. Kumar
The Hindu
Proud 'Madrasi'. Photo: S.S. Kumar

I am pushing sixty now and I’ve never had to move away from Mylapore for work or for anything else. It’s funny, but even a trip to Mambalam makes me homesick!

I will have rose-milk nowhere else but at the corner shop and buy my morning paper only at Vijaya stores. Everything I write – a movie script for Kamal sir, a play for my brother Balaji or even a letter to my wife – must be placed first at the feet of Karpagambal. Take me away from the temple tank and I’m a fish out of water.

By the way, I wouldn’t want to be called homesick. I would think wanting to come back home is a healthy feeling!

I really didn’t enjoy that trip to the U.S, despite Niagara, Colorado and what have you. I was like a fisherwoman who was made to sleep beside a basket of jasmine. Now, flowers are fine, but without the smell of fish, she just can’t sleep. Something else too was missing. Probably mosquitoes.

There are mosquitoes in Madras, there’s the Cooum, traffic and pollution, but you see, I live in a joint family, so congestion and pollution are just like home! And I’d rather things remained as they are.

I’m not sure I’m happy with the changes in this city. Triplicane, for instance – back in the day, a walk in one of those narrow lanes would mean negotiating countless little mounds of cow dung. Where have the cows gone? A bit of rain and you could wade in water as high as your hip!

The traffic here too, is an amazing phenomenon. You can see your destination, but you’ll never get there. Sometimes, you think your vehicle is moving, but the scene outside the window never changes.

If you want something else, you’re welcome to leave. This is where I live and I want my home to be ‘like this only’!

Madras ‘valla’ Madras

I love Madras. I love the place, I love the word. Ask me my address, and I’ll say 14/18, Ammani Ammal Street, Mandaiveli, Madras – 28. I can’t get myself to say Chennai – 28.

People come to Madras from all over, in search of success. I live here, so success came looking for me!

The catalysts of my achievements – Director K. Balachander, ‘Muktha’ Srinivasan, Kamal Hassan – are of this city.

There’s something else, too. These cities, its environment, its people, are what made ‘Crazy Mohan’. I realised this when I met Gulzar.

For Chachi 420, the Hindi remake of Avvai Shanmugi, I was translating the dialogue into English for Gulzar, who was taking it all down in Urdu in his notebook. After a while, he just couldn’t stop laughing. He shut his book and said, “The sense of humour you Madarasis have is too much! How do you do it?”

I replied that the answer was in his question – being a Madarasi is mother’s aasi (blessing).

I thank Madras. I am a product of this city and proud of it.

To watch the interview, go to Video by S.S. Kumar

As told to Anand Venkateswaran

More In: Chennai

Fantastic, amazing. Never enjoyed reading an article so much. Thanks for reviving our old very dear, very special "Madras".

from:  J k Sinha.
Posted on: Aug 21, 2012 at 19:07 IST

Nice article. The best part i feel is he did not mention about caste and have expressed very nicely how he feels. some commentors here ( for exmaple from Chinna Karppan) would love to show-off about caste.Dont know when do we be subtle and dont discuss about CASTES in PUBLIC.

from:  Sri Kumar
Posted on: Aug 21, 2012 at 14:28 IST

I am really impressed reading the article, may be since i was also born and brought up in Mylapore and i can comprehend how much love and passion one can have about this place. Crazy mohan's interview remainds me all the golden times spend in the streets of mylapore and santhome and i cherish those refreshing thoughts.

from:  Subramanian Veeriaperumal, Arkansas
Posted on: Aug 21, 2012 at 10:00 IST

And do not forget greatest personalities of India, Rajaji, Anna, Dr.
Radhakrishnan, VV. Giri Venkataraman, and many many more.
Also Madras is a epithome of Relegious hormoney and brotherhood. We
have greatest Temples like Parthasarathy,Karpagammal, Mosques like Big
Mosque in Triplicane, Durga on Mount Road, Great Churches like Santhome
Basilica,Luz Church and many more. Truly Madras is a gift of our

from:  Pius
Posted on: Aug 21, 2012 at 08:22 IST

I am also a product of Madras City like you and I am also proud of it.

from:  Philips
Posted on: Aug 21, 2012 at 07:57 IST

Please see the youtube version in tamil of the same interview. This is
an edited transcription of the same. The interview is very funny and
anyone who takes offence to this article will realize that they have
misunderstood Crazy Mohan.

from:  James Gurung
Posted on: Aug 21, 2012 at 06:31 IST

There are Mylaporeans and Mylaporeans. This is a smug view of upper
middle class steeped in nostalgic traecle. you must ask those who live
in ondu kuditahanam in Paripurnavinayakar koil stret or Appu street

from:  R.Sundaram
Posted on: Aug 21, 2012 at 03:17 IST

I cannot forget our early morning walks with my dad along the beach, then coffee and tiffin (not breakfast) at Karpagambal Mess and then buying vegetables along the temple tank. My dad used to follow this ritual almost on a daily basis. He is gone from our lives but memories of those wonderful moments and memories of that Madras still lives on. BTW the dad I am referring to here was Gemini Ganesan.

from:  Sathish Ganesan
Posted on: Aug 21, 2012 at 01:09 IST

I fully agree with MrFrancis .It is one thing to be nostalgic ,but a completely different kettle of fish when it comes to development .We have to accept that Madras today is bursting at the seams with no infrastructural improvements over the years. One should just try crossing the road singing Madras nalla Madras and see what happens. For all we know that may be the last song one ever sang in ones lifetime.Get real Mr.Mohan.

from:  Dr.P.M.Alam
Posted on: Aug 21, 2012 at 00:14 IST

Remember the hand pump system to draw water from Madras municipal
corporation in those days which created so much ' dok dok ' noise while
pumping using the hands , the citizens never needed alarm clock to wake
them up in the morning . Their noise from 4.0 am was sufficient for
people to get up and start their morning duties .

from:  Raju
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 22:49 IST

WOV ! Why no mention about Connemara library , ' Chor bazaar ' near
Madras central where only the new suburban railway terminus has come
up sone 20 years back .I forgot the name of that chor bazaar where
every ' Gujli ' item from small nut / bolt to huge items - '' any
thing under the sky '' - it is said used to be available . What about
now defunct , safire , anand and other theatres , Gemini studios , THE
MAIL , SWADESH MITHRAN , ALAI OSAI [ of ex DMK minister Arcot Veeru
swamy ,] which used to sell in black market at rs 2/ copy in the
evenings thogh the cover price was 10 naye paise only - giving hot
news on actor MGR's expulsion from DMK , SIMPSON'S group's strike ,
LIC building fire , C.N Annadurai , MGR's funeral processions , Radio
ceylon and its anchors Amin sayani , Mayil vahanan , Binaka geeth mala
, Test matches , Davis cup matches against Mexico , Australia etc .

from:  Victor Raj
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 22:43 IST

How can he forget about Brahmins? They are the integral part of mylapore,mambalam and
triplicane. With agraharams around thulasingaperumal koil, karpagavalli temple and ayodhya
mandapam Brahmins added to the nostalgia of these places. Without them these places are
lifeless. Probably crazy Mohan being himself anbrahmin felt shy about writing on Brahmins.

from:  China Karuppan
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 18:35 IST

I think its a shame on what basis madras is being missed here .
mosquitoes , traffic , lol . I personally feel ,with period the state and status of the city should improve, but with Madras its down grading each day . I am sorry , if i sound rude, I feel influential people like the above must play vital role in upgrading the life style of the city to smart one but here it really a shame . An article which i shouldn't have read ..

from:  francis
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 17:44 IST

Crazy Mohan is really crazy when he says that Madras has cooum river and mosquitoes. I cannot imagine how one can enjoy wading through cow dung filled roads. They are not jokes to laugh at. When I visited Madras last time I found that there is no real infrastructural development in the city. Pedestrians are unable to cross the roads because there are no traffic lights unlike US,Canada or Singapore. Traffic is chaotic and nobody obeys the rules. It is a real nightmare to cross the roads and I will not say that this is something to enjoy. It is a serious matter to ponder and find a solution. Government and people of Madras should strive hard to make Madras a real "Singara Chennai".

from:  Nathan
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 16:48 IST

For Crazy, it is always "Madras, Nalla Madras!" The piece is written in his inimitable style. Relished the whole piece and even smelt Triplicane cowdung and suffered the sting of the Mambalam mosquito. Also watched the video of Crazy interview. but the written word has really brought out the sights, smells and sounds of Madras. I am with Crazy on the name, Madras sounds better as it rings history.

from:  RC Rajamani
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 16:45 IST

"I was like a fisherwoman who was made to sleep beside a basket of
jasmine. Now, flowers are fine, but without the smell of fish, she
just can’t sleep". Very true, like the man who worked in a tannery in
Chromepet could not withstand the fragrance coming out from Pond's
factory en route in the national highway. Every locality in Madras,
Chennai- the change in name thrust upon the Madrasis in 1996- has a
unique charm that can be felt only by people growing up in the area
for long and the feeling can be so brilliantly expressed by only a few
like Crazy Mohan. Even as I write this piece, I only know how I miss
the snacks and the special coffee of Arya Bhavan in Govindappa Naicken
Street, near Flower Bazaar police station in those good old days.

from:  Shekar
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 16:18 IST

Well said Sir, Madras is Madras. Non Tamilians pronounce 'Chennai' it as 'Chen-Naai' meaning Red Dog! Most cities or countries have different names in different languages due the fact that sounds of one language cannot be pronouncd correctly in other languages. The correct Tamil pronunciation of 'Chennai' can NEVER be achieved by people who do not speak correct Tamil and hence let us leave it as Madras. After all, Tamilians are not 'Chen-Naais'.
Good show Mr. Mohan. We are proud of you.

from:  Kuberan
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 16:13 IST

Wonderful interview - could not stop smiling (or laughing!) within myself while reading. Crazy Mohan has been Gifted with great sense of Humour. Definitely, a true Madarasi can never be out of Madras!

from:  RK Raman
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 15:51 IST

There is nothing nostalgic about wading in hip deep cow dung water.
Agreed it was the situation he grew up in but saying that he wants
things to remain the same is utter backwardness.

A person as influential as him should know better and embrace and
evangelize progress rather than have some misplaced sense of pride in
living in filth and underdeveloped conditions

from:  Sandeep
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 15:30 IST

Very humourous interview from Carzy Mohan in his own style as we celebrate Madras Day 2012. Long live his contribution to the humour drama industry.

from:  Raghavendran S
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 15:03 IST

His extempore humour is so amazing.
In his college days, when people asked him which branch you are in ?
He promptly says 'Tree branch'.
Most of the time he bunks classes, preparing scripts for dramas sitting
under the tree in front of the Mechanical Engg Dept.
Proud to say, being myself from the same department in the same college, I had also received some enlightenments from the same Bodhi Tree which
still stands green !

from:  Rakesh S
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 14:15 IST

sankar you are cent percent right. ask about 'Madras' to a mediocre and not to an achiever.what if no one knows his address.describe "MADRAS" then!

from:  Nanda
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 14:04 IST

It felt like I was hearing the great master talk about his part of the Country again - R.K.Narayan. Thank you Mr. Mohan for such a candid glimpse :D

from:  Subhro Sengupta
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 13:44 IST

Magnificient Madras, It is incomplete without some of its famous names like Venkat, VV, Srikkanth, Rajnikanth, Higginbothams,
Woodlands, Central & Egmore Stations, Anna Flyover etc. Wonderful
city which blends development and culture.

from:  Srinivasan Krishnan
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 12:17 IST

I can identify myself with the sentiments expressed by Mr.Crazy Mohan .
Though I am out of Mylapore, Mylaproe is never out of me.

from:  Hema Shankar
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 09:58 IST

My God! What an Interview. Madrasis are truly crazy and Iam proud to be so and say so. Every thought running in a true Madrasi's mind about the darling city is reflected in 'Crazy Mohan's interview. Wah! Madras!!

from:  S. Gnaneswari
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 09:55 IST

An awesome dialogue writer with a great sense of humour.. It is really true that Comedy in Indian Cinema has no parallels to Tamil Cinema.

from:  Murali
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 09:53 IST

Very nice interview!

from:  Ramakrishnan
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 08:42 IST

A comedic genius who has entertained us for decades, a true denizen of Mylapore.

I really enjoyed his fond reminiscing of good old Mylapore, a proud of a prestigious school of Mylapore myself, and hence my connection.

from:  Seshadri
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 07:51 IST

Nice interview. I have met Crazy Mohan a couple of times and I am sure he will not
remember me!! My close friend Umamaheswaran is Mohan's neighbor and that
made it possible perhaps. I was itching to get one chance to act in his plays but
didn't have the courage to ask him, what with practically no stage experience but
for a limited appearance on stage during my Polytechnic days in late 50s. Just
confidence that we can do does not take anyone anywhere unless there is some ush
from some where! During his recent trip to USA, I wanted to meet him but what with
being a dependent in USA one cane do? I was not in the right place in the right time
and that is it. Am sure I will meet him again when I visit MADRAS next.

from:  G.Chandrasekaran
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 06:23 IST

Wow,what a piece? How do I thank The Hindu for coming out with such
pieces? Certain things and people integral to Madras such as The
Hindu, Swadesamithran, Rajaji,Kamaraj,Kakkan,CS,
Venkatraman,Amalgamations Group, Loyola, Pachiappas,Sanskrit College,
MS,Music Sabhas, Cinema of those times, MGR,Sivaji, Gemini, Cho,Indian
Bank,its Chairman of those days G.Lakshminarayanan, Drive-in-
Woodlands, Moore Market,Parrys , Mambalam...list is endless.On 16th
inst, I attended a solo concert by Umayalpuram Sivaraman at the
Prestigous YB Chavan venue, Bombay ( got up by Indo-US Cultural
Council)..he spoke ex-tempore ..Madrasi brain was too evident to be
missed.He related music to mathematics, physics and chemistry in a
crispy manner...not to miss his wit throughout US and his name
US. I always get recharged after memories of my proud Madras or for
that matter Madras State of those days as I know it. Thanks again to
The Hindu for such articles.

from:  T.K.P.Naig
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 05:51 IST

Nice one and quite humorous.

However, reference to mosquitoes sounds out of place - someone as affluent as Crazy Mohan must be in AC 24 X 7

from:  Sankar
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012 at 05:27 IST
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