Crazy Mohan: The man who had the last laugh
As everyone is mourning the demise of our beloved Crazy Mohan, we talk to a few collaborators, who share fond memories of working with the late thespian.
How do you pay tribute to a man who is already a significant part of your day-to-day conversations? Do you revisit his illustrious body of work? Do you smile at the memories his words have given you? Or will you be saddened by the fact that he is no more? As everyone is mourning the demise of our beloved Crazy Mohan, we talk to a few collaborators, who share fond memories of working with the late thespian...
My friendship with Crazy Mohan started when I was working as an assistant to K Balachandar in Poikkal Kudhirai. Even before, I had watched a lot of his plays and was already a fan. Our relationship developed as we worked on that film. I wanted him as the dialogue writer for Poovellam Kettuppar and we worked together for seven-eight months. Even though comedy was his forte, he was equally talented in penning serious scripts. His way of bringing out comedy through confusion is something that cannot be recreated by anyone else. He was quite talented in connecting two extremely bizarre things and bring out the humour from it. Anyone who writes a quality comedy is inherently intelligent, and Crazy Mohan had a razor-sharp brain. Even during casual conversations, he would always give swift and witty responses. His contribution to comedies in cinema and drama is immense.
While making Vasool Raja MBBS, Kamal Haasan gave suggested bringing Crazy Mohan on board for a role, so that we could keep him with us on the sets. He was quite busy with his drama commitments then, and it was only after I assured him that his role would not be physically taxing that he accepted the offer. That’s how the character of Dr Margabandhu came to be. In my upcoming film, Market Raja MBBS, I wanted him to reprise that role and convinced him after three months of following up with him. However, though he accepted the offer, in the end, he was not able to work on the film owing to health issues. I told him that I’d give him a break this time, but wanted him on board for my next film. I did not know that it would turn into a long leave.
He was a great comedy writer, with an amazing sense of humour in person too. The conversations I had with him are as hilarious as the ones you see on screen. He was very spontaneous and processed ideas very quickly. Whenever I asked him to re-write a scene, he would get it done within a few minutes. Even though Vietnam Colony (directed by Santhana Bharathi, with screenplay and dialogues by Crazy Mohan) was a remake, he added a lot of nice elements to the script like the sequences involving Kaka Radhakrishnan. His demise is indeed a great loss to Tamil cinema.
Crazy Mohan is a point of reference for comedy, according to me. His collaborations with Kamal Haasan are legendary, and his contributions helped make Kamal’s cinema magical. I would say his comedy lies somewhere between PG Wodehouse and Monty Python. Working with him was a dream for me and when Kola Kolaya Munthirikka happened, it was surreal. Madhumita and I used to eagerly await the shoot everyday, and the day would be filled with situational jokes, silly rhymes, and more. There are people who are hailed for their simplicity, but to me, Crazy Mohan is the epitome of an egoless person. The more he became famous, the more he was grounded.
Crazy Mohan sir was almost like family for us. The thing that shocked me most while working with him in Kola Kolaya Mundhirika was his humility and his attitude to learn from everyone. He was always willing to re-write a scene until the comedy worked out. He used to say, “Idhu work aagalaiyaa? Unaku siripu varaleena maathidalaam. Best-ah kuduppom!” He achieved things that others can only dream of in comic screenwriting. He had an amazing combination of childlike innocence and humility. No one can ever replace him.
Writing comedy is the toughest job in the industry and Crazy Mohan was the best at it. After the stupendous success of the Kamal-Crazy combo in Apoorva Sagodharargal and Michael Madana Kama Rajan, I roped in him for writing the Tamil dialogues for Indran Chandran (the dubbed version of the 1989 Telugu film). Then, years later, I wanted him to write for Aahaa. The second half of the film was very serious in nature and he hadn’t written something like that till then. He took that up as a challenge and wrote it so beautifully. He always mentioned that Aahaa was his most favourite work. He felt it was a complete film and wanted to do a sequel to it. And we actually came up with a futuristic script in the Back to the Future-style.