Cheenu Mohan, veteran theatre artiste and noted film personality, passes away at 61
Mohan, who rose to fame playing the role of Cheenu in many plays written by Crazy Mohan for Crazy Creations, was a trouper since the inception of the theatre group in 1979
Veteran theatre artist Cheenu Mohan passed away in the early hours of Thursday due to a massive heart attack. Mohan, who rose to fame playing the role of Cheenu in many plays written by Crazy Mohan for Crazy Creations, was a trouper since the inception of the theatre group in 1979. His first role in the troupe was as a person with a speech impediment in Alavudhinum 100 watts bulb-um.
"I was a judge in one of his inter-collegiate drama festivals where he was participating. Immediately, I started offering him roles in our dramas," recalls Crazy Mohan, talking about his troupe member and his most 'sentimental friend'. Sharing an anecdote from his time spent with Cheenu Mohan, the playwright says, "While we were touring in the United States, they used to send a separate car for me. Even my brother Maadhu Balaji hasn't travelled in that car, but I was very particular that Mohan was with me. It was a sentiment I always had."
Having been part of over 3000 stage plays, Cheenu Mohan essayed some unforgettable roles in Crazy Mohan's dramas. His performance as the man-child in Jurassic Baby, or the recurring friend Cheenu in many plays including Maadhu +2 and Madhil Mel Maadhu, earned Cheenu Mohan his own legion of fans. The 61-year-old actor reprised his theatre roles even on the small screen when Crazy Mohan's plays were adapted for the television audience in the 90s.
The earliest seeds of this camaraderie between both the Mohans were sown when Crazy Mohan used to do stand-up comedy before his drama was staged, and Cheenu Mohan served him tea to help preserve his throat. "Our bond became much closer after these incidents, and he became more like a brother to me," says Crazy Mohan.
Fondly referred to as "IOB Mohan" due to his professional stint in the Indian Overseas Bank, Cheenu Mohan's deteriorating health didn't allow him to be part of stage shows. "He used to stay in the outskirts of Chennai (Anna Nagar), so even that made it tough for him to be part of our stage plays. However, whenever he performed, he unfailingly received standing ovations," shares Crazy Mohan.
Cheenu Mohan made his silver-screen debut with Karthik-starrer Varusham 16, and followed it with roles in Mani Ratnam's Anjali and Thalapathy. After a few blink-and-miss roles in the 2000s, Cheenu Mohan made a proper comeback into cinema with Karthik Subbaraj's Iraivi, where he played Vijay Sethupathi's uncle. He further played memorable roles in Aandavan Kattalai and Kolamavu Kokila.
Frequently citing actor Nagesh as an inspiration, Cheenu Mohan never restricted himself to any medium. After his comeback stint in cinema, he also made inroads into the digital platforms, being a part of a number of short films and web series.
"He loved cinema, and always wanted to be a part of it. He was so good in Iraivi, and I thought he'd have a longer stint in cinema. But, it is just sad and unfair that it has come to a close this soon. It is not just a personal loss, but also an irreplaceable loss to both Tamil theatre and cinema," laments Crazy Mohan.
Cheenu Mohan is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.