When quirk and mirth come to party

THOROUGH ENTERTAINER: Maadhu Balaji, the male lead in the plays of Crazy Creations R Ashok   | Photo Credit: R. ASHOK

For over three decades now, R Balaji has been the constant hero of all Crazy Mohan’s plays. He is so attached to his character that Balaji is better known as ‘Maadhu’, the name of the lead role in the play Allaudin and the 100 watts bulb. “The name was a take off from Nagesh-starrer Ethir Neechal,” says Balaji.

“Since then, Maadhu also has remained constant. It is a special feeling when you realise that the audience connect so well with the character and I want to cash in on that interest,” he says. But for his mother, Balaji would have become a film star by now.

“I was offered the lead role in Manal Kayiru. I was also very keen to act in films. But, my mother denied permission,” he says. “Instead she would allow me to act in stage plays. She passed away soon and after her demise I lost my interest in cinema and started concentrating on dramas,” he says.

But then string of filmy offers came his way. “In fact, Kamal Hassan wanted to me to don the role Yugi Sethu had done in Panchathanthiram and I was also offered a role in Avvai Shanmughi which I declined. On an average we stage 140 to 150 shows a year. Had I accepted those film offers, it would have been a great loss for the 20 families who are with us for such a long period sacrificing their film prospects. I decided against acting in films and I feel I am the king here,” he says.

During his college days, Balaji was the star actor and got the best actor awards wherever he went. “My brother Crazy Mohan is the biggest inspiration for me. His scripts took me to great heights,” he says. It gave Mohan and Balaji enormous confidence to form Crazy Creations with like minded friends. “We started as amateurs but now turned professionals. I left the bank job to concentrate on theatre. More importantly we friends are big fans of Nagesh,” he says.

When Balaji was chosen for the lead role in Allaudin and the 100 watts bulb, many discouraged Mohan not to give the role to Balaji. But the steely resolve of Mohan made Balaji the hero and the rest is history. “At that time my troupe members backed me with their unconditional support. If I am here today it is because of them,” he says.

Balaji still finds it difficult to come out of an incident that happened during a cultural visit to Singapore. As the plane was about to land, Balaji developed sore throat and lost his voice. He was terribly upset but his troupe members took good care of him and he recovered miraculously just before the show.

“The play lasted for three hours and there was barrage of witty one-liners. I could see my teammates crying,” he recounts. Blessed with the gift of the gab, Balaji keeps his audience spell bound reeling out dialogues in quick succession.

If penning down comic dialogues is tough it is equally tough to deliver them properly. “Timing is the key here. It is God’s grace. Being an ardent fan of Nagesh and Manorama, it came to me naturally. Also the experience gathered by watching the plays of legendary Y.G. Parthasarathy and Cho helped me. But all this was possible only because of my co actors. Without them I am nothing. Like two batsmen on a cricket field, I get the cue from my co-actor and that makes my job easy,” says Balaji.

Balaji is so close with his troupe members that he never rejects their suggestions and feels the comments help him improvise. “I know if I commit a mistake there is some one to correct me,” he says.

He believes humour has kept him young. “Comedy is our forte. When you see audience laugh heartily, you feel young at heart,” he says.

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Printable version | Apr 29, 2021 8:57:16 PM |

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