Thamizh Talkies: Two eternal comedies
The writer is a former journalist who has worked in the film industry for several years and is passionate about movies, music and everything related to entertainment
I turned to two films for my weekly laughs, both of which had Nagesh in it. I’m sure you get the drift of what I’m about to say now. Comedy is also about consistency. This is why, today, we rate Kamal Haasan’s comedy films as highly as his serious ones. The two films I saw also had another ace actor in combination with Nagesh. In fact, in one of them, the hero was also a double ace! I’m also talking of the two directors, C V Shridhar and K Balachander who made character-driven comedies that were integral to the overall story. The two films I am talking about are Ooty Varai Uravu and Bhama Vijayam.
The ace actor in both is T S Balaiah and the double ace actor in the former is, of course, Sivaji Ganesan. The Shridhar, Balaiah and Nagesh combination also gave us Kadhalikka Neramillai, yes, but I was more glued this week to the 'love from Ooty' thanks to how wonderfully 'urban' Sivaji Ganesan transforms (probably a reflection of how director Shridhar was in real life) in that film, whose improbable tale was amply supported by great music (M S Vishwanathan) and greater laughs. This was the 'Shridhar template' so to say, something which K Balachander also kept up to until Aboorva Raagangal established him as a filmmaker who dealt with complex human emotions. Bhama Vijayam, though filmed in a one-house set, doesn’t feel claustrophobic or tiring. Instead the comedy feels 'lived in', and comes from mainly Nagesh’s tenterhook demeanour and sarcasm. A rather serious Balaiah plays his father here as well but in an arc that is a total opposite to their father-son relationship in Kadhalikka Neramillai.
aOoty Varai Uravu’s Dr Tirupathi (a troubled Nagesh running between a demanding wife, "Alamel" as he calls her, the suave yet solidly threatening Sivaji Ganesan and his equally troubled father with a secret life, played to quivering perfection by Balaiah) is a hoot even going by today’s sensibilities. Of course, there are more comedy favourites that I can make a list and share but let’s start with the above names to get our share of laughs for the week.