Into the world of Tamil film comedians

Right from N.S. Krishnan to present day Karunakaran, comedians have played a pivotal role in Tamil cinema. Be it mainline or a separate track, comedy in the industry had seen a healthy development.

N.S. Krishnan, who was called "Kalaivanar" or NSK, ruled the roost in 1940s and 1950s. He and his wife, T.A. Madhuram, made a perfect comedy pair and they regaled the audience with their supple humour.

NSK was a multi-faceted artist who could also sing and do the job of a playback writer. He acted in nearly 150 films along with leading stars such as M.K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, T.R. Mahalingam, Ranjan, P.U. Chinnappa, M.G. Ramachandran and Sivaji Ganesan. He died in 1957. Some of his memorable movies are "Arasilangkumari", "Ambikapathy", "Nallathambi", "Chandralekha" and "Aryamala."

Several comedians like T.R. Ramachandran, A. Karunanidhi, T.S. Balaiah also played their part in the industry with their own comic sense. Apart from comedy, they also came out with many powerful performances. Who can forget the performance of T.S. Balaiah in "Thillana Mohanambal" and as the villain in "Thookku Thooki".

Then came Chandrababu and Nagesh.

Chandrababu was a multi-faceted artist with his own style of comedy. His slapstick comedy dominated the performances of even stars like MGR and Sivaji. Some fans had felt that his roles were more classy than the big stars'. Such was the domination of this "superstar" comedian. He had a mastery over the Madras "Bashai," a dialect unique to then Madras and present day Chennai. Some of his memorable movies are "Sabaash Meena", " Sahodari", "Kalyanam Panniyum Brammachari."

In the case of Nagesh, one can never forget his memorable roles in various films. He dominated the industry in the 1960s. He is regarded as one of the most prolific comedians in Tamil cinema. He acted in over 1,000 films from 1958 to 2008, performing a variety of roles - as a comedian, lead character, supporting actor and antagonist.

Nagesh's style of comedy was largely inspired by Hollywood actor Jerry Lewis. Similarities between Nagesh and Lewis earned him the sobriquet "Jerry Lewis of India."

The great actor's performance as a hospital ward boy in "Nenjil Oru Alayam" earned him the success and he followed it up with some powerful roles in "Anbe Vaa", "Periya idathu penn", "Enga Vettu Pillai", "Server Sundaram" and "Neerkumizhi."His role as "Vaithy" in "Thillana Mohanambal" and "Maadhu" in "Ethir Neechal" will be remembered forever.

Nagesh has acted in lead roles in "Neerkumizhi", "Server Sundaram", "Ethir Neechal", "Soaappu Seeppu Kannadi". He acted as a dead body and tickled the fans with his superlative performance in "Magalir Mattum".

During the period Chandrababu and Nagesh dominated Tamil cinema, K.A. Thangavelu popularly known as "Danaal" Thangavelu came into the scene with his own style of comedy. Who can forget his role in "Kalyana Parisu" and "Maya Bazaar". Thangavelu's humour is recognised for his impeccable timing in verbal agility and the characteristic twang of his delivery. Some of his memorable movies are "Thillana Mohanambal", "Missiamma", "Utthama Puthiran" and "Adhutha Veetu Penn".

Several comedians like 'Cho' Ramaswamy, 'Thengai' Srinivasan, A. Karunanidhi also made their impact. 'Cho' Ramaswamy had his own way of comedy. One cannot forget his role with Jaishankar in "Aayiram Poi".

'Thengai' Srinivasan did an excellent job in "Kasethaan Kadavulada" and many other films. Fans still remember his role as an innocent "managing director" in Rajni-starrer "Thillu Mullu".

V.K. Ramaswamy played several character roles in his film career and some of them are remarkable.

For some time, Surulirajan dominated Kollywood with his comedy roles. None will forget his role in Rajni- starrer "Murattu Kaalai," "Jaani" and "Manthoppu Kiliye."

Goundamani and Senthil then moved in and dominated Kollywood for many years. Goundamani started as a small-time comedian in films like "16 Vayathinile" and became famous after his performance in "Panam Pathum Seiyyum". He played an anti-hero role in the film. After that he acted in many leading characters in many films But after it bombed, he made a tremendous comeback in "Ullaithai Alli Thaa". And he never turned back after that. Goundamani and Senthil caused rippled in the industry and enthralled fans. They added value to films such as "Karakattakaran" and "Chinna Gounder." During his prime, Goundamani played characters equal to lead actors like Prabhu, Satyaraj and Karthik.

Vivek, who is fondly called "Chinna Kalaivanar," made memorable performances, including comedy roles that contained social messages. He played character roles in Sankar's films like "Boys", "Anniyan" and "Sivaji - The Boss". He also played the lead character in films like "Viswanathan Ramamoorthy", "Pathayeram Kodi" and many others. But the films didn't do well. So he returned to playing comedy roles.

When Goundamani and Senthil were dominating the Kollywood, Vadivelu came into the scene with a small role in "Chinna Gounder." His role in "Thevar Magan" won him laurels. He dominated Kollywood with his versatile comedy in films like "Winner" and "London." He also tried his luck as the lead actor in "Imsai Arasan 23anam Pulikesi" and "Indralogathil Naa Azhagappan". While the earlier clicked in the box office, the second one bombed.

Santhanam moved in later with his own comedy. Some of his memorable movies are "Siva Manasula Sakthi", "Boss Engira Bhaskaran, "Siruthai", "Vaanam", "Kanna Laddu Thinna Aasaiya", "Theeya Velai Seiyyanum Kumaru", "Vallavanakku Pullum Aayudham" and "Inimey Ippadithaan". Like Vadivelu, he also tried his luck as hero in "Kanna Laddu Thinna Aasaiya", "Vallavanakku Pullum Aayudham" and "Inimey Ippadithaan". While the first one clicked at the box office, the second one did decently and the third one bombed.

Now, a host of comedians are on the horizon to brighten the world of humour.

A point to be noted before ending the story is that besides comedians, comedy has come with ease for mega stars right from MGR, Sivaji, Kamal Haasan and Rajnikanth to present day stars like Vijay, Ajith and others. They have enthralled the audience with their humour.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2020 8:24:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/Into-the-world-of-Tamil-film-comedians/article14390069.ece

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