The Crazy combination: An ode to the legendary relationship between Kamal Haasan and Crazy Mohan
In this personalised writeup, the author takes us on a trip down her memory lane
I had the privilege of talking to the late Crazy Mohan, sometime last year, when told that the conversation would be centred on his association with Kamal Haasan, one of his closest collaborators. Crazy Mohan readily agreed. Upon meeting him, I was pleasantly surprised; age had had little effect on his humour and his childlike innocence. Nobody who knew him then would have imagined that he would pass away a year later.
Life is crazy, Mohan quips often. One could say this about how Kamal and Mohan began working with each other. Mohan’s first encounter with Kamal Haasan was when he received an award for his play from the latter. Years later, they would bump into each other, and at a graveyard, no less. I remember the vivid image of the unblemished joy on his face as he narrated this story to me. He had told me then, "They say habits from the cradle stay until the grave, but ours was a friendship that began at the grave. I think it will last until we are reborn in the next generation and lie in our cradles." This sort of wordplay is everything that we have associated Crazy Mohan’s brand of humour with - classy, witty and more significantly, clean.
While it would be a sin to limit the playwright’s work to his association with Kamal, it is a great place to begin. Remember the cab driver saying ‘Metre ku mela kodu paa!' and Kamal Haasan in Aboorva Sagotharargal self-deprecatingly says, "Naane metre ku keezha thaane?" Or how about the exchange from Kadhala Kadhala when Soundharya looks at Kamal, and says “Ivaru than brush vechrukaru. Ivaru than painter", and Rambha points at Prabhudheva who is brushing his teeth and says, “Ivarum than vechrukaru." Or how about the car sequence from Panchathanthiram when the words 'munnadi', 'pinnadi' and 'kannadi' get used again and again in an increasingly creative manner? Or perhaps you prefer the ‘meen/mean’ exchange from Michael Madhana Kamarajan? We can really go on and on.
Mohan shared that Avvai Shanmugi was his favourite among all his collaborations with Kamal. Know the saying ‘Behind every successful man, there is a woman?’ Well, 'Avvai Shanmugi was that woman' for Crazy Mohan. I remember being mildly surprised by his swift answer, especially when you consider the many stellar films they have made together. But the thespian qualified his choice by saying it had a lot of personal, anecdotal value. There is a scene in the film in which the daughter discovers who Shanmugi is, by simply recognising her/his scent -- that conversation was apparently inspired by a moment Kamal shared with his daughter Akshara, on the sets of the film. They seemed to consistently bring out the best from each other; their work a reflection of the warm relationship they shared offscreen. After all, he was 'Kamal's favourite CM.'
Mohan calls Kamal a perfectionist, and Kamal, in his heartfelt note after the former’s demise, calls him ‘Nagaichuvai Nyani’. There’s really no better way to describe the legendary humorist. His trademark one-liners have seeped so organically into our day-to-day conversations that they are extensions of our selves. And even now, on hearing those lines, you smile first; henceforth, I suppose sadness will creep in, when you realise he isn’t around anymore. But again, it is a bit like how Kamal puts it in his note. “Friendship doesn’t end with death. Aal irundha dhaan natpa enna?” Mohan’s humour doesn’t have an expiry date. His jokes will live on forever, continuing to lighten up our bleak days. Catch my point?