A tribute to 'Crazy' Mohan

Ma.Se.’s unique journey with 'Crazy' Mohan

Friendship ran as the silver thread, beyond fame and limelight

Maniam Selven is shocked. “A friend of six decades is no more. It is not easy to come to terms with something like that,” he rues. Theirs was an unusual story — of two primary school mates moving to the same institution (P.S. High School) for higher studies and living in the same neighbourhood — Mylapore — for 60 years. They are just two doors from each other on Ammini Ammal Street.

“We grew up together and watched as our careers took different paths, but met almost daily,” says Ma.Se. His memories go back to the days when they were all one big family in the colony atmosphere. “There were no differences,” observes Ma.Se. Mohan showed talent as an artist, but never pursued it seriously at that time. His father and grandfather were proud that I was blossoming into an artist. “Mohan wept with me when I lost my parents. Our friendship was full of such moments.”

Ma.Se. recalls the day in Class Six, when Mohan played the role of Kattabomman in a skit. I was mighty impressed as he spoke the lines for which Sivaji Ganesan is so famous. I told him that several times. He had shown his inclination to theatre, which became a passion later,” adds Ma.Se. “We were a group, which would stand at the street corner and analyse everything under the sun. Mohan always would hold court with his racy humour. That was the time Tughlak magazine had been started and we would listen with rapt attention as Mohan spoke about the articles, his wit adding spark to Cho’s sarcasm.”

Ma.Se. was overawed by the way Mohan adapted himself to advances in technology. “An engineer by profession, he learnt to use modern gadgets such as ipad, etc., with ease. ,” recollects Ma.Se., who points out that his friend was a voracious reader. “That accounted for his versatility. He could handle any subject with élan, be it play or film. And he was a brilliant conversationalist, at ease on any platform,” he says.

“His wit was spontaneous,” says Ma.Se. and thinks of the slithering visitor, which kept everyone on their toes. “This snake was spotted entering his compound and you can imagine the reaction of the household. The entire colony was put on alert and the poor snake crept into my house. The Forest Department was informed. When the person reached, the reptile had disappeared into a hole in the garden. Asking us to inform him when the snake reappeared, the catcher left. Mohan and myself, each with a stick, kept tapping at the hole trying to draw it out. We both enjoyed the exclusive hour we spent together.”

The P.S. batch

Ma.Se. designed the invitation for the silver jubilee of Crazy Creations. “We both appeared once on the same stage to share our experiences of our unique journey. And our P.S. School batch met to celebrate 60 years. I saw most of them at his house this morning. For once, we had no words to exchange and there was no Mohan to set the ball rolling... ” Ma.Se’s voice trails off.

He picks up again after a few seconds. “I don’t think I can go to the terrace of my house for some time. Often I take a stroll there and Mohan would show up on his terrace. Once a crow kept flying around trying to peck our heads and Mohan typically shouted: ‘Let’s wear a helmet from tomorrow. We’ll be the first to do so — walking with a helmet.’ Right now, I feel I have lost a part of mine. Not all bonds are made of blood, after all.”

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 2:14:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/a-personal-loss-for-maniam-selven/article27899651.ece

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