Comedy is an important ingredient to an entertaining movie. I can think of very few movies which didnt have a comedy track but still engrossing.. needless to say that they are action-oriented.. like Kaakha Kaakha, Kadamai Kanniyam Kattupadu, Kurudhipunal, Pulan Visaranai and Captain Prabhakaran. With the advent of mega serials, it is easy to confirm the statement that 'It is easy to make one cry but difficult to make one laugh'. Most of the heroes have tried their luck in humorous role and have had varied success. And then, there is another unique sect of stars- comedians, who, either on a separate comedy track or running along with the main story, evoke laughter and help pull crowd to the theaters.
Since the present discussion deals with current cinema (the last 6 years or so), I wouldnt touch upon greats like NSK, Nagesh, Chandrababu et al. in Tamil and Mehmood, Johnie Walker, et al. in Hindi.
Tamil cinema had a rich tradition of comedians.. but in the recent past, it has largely been either Vivek or Vadivelu. Both are my favorites now, but their modus operandi is pretty different. Vivek has an 'urban touch' to him, so I find that urban audience tend to like him more, whereas Vadivelu has the 'rural touch' or 'Madurai masala', so people from B and C centers correlate him more. By and large, they are 'decent' comedians but at times, they get sucked into 'double entendre' jokes, which is not a great humor.
Vivek: He made his debut in the 1989-release 'Pudhupudhu Arthangal' of KB and made an immediate impact as Rahman's assistant. For almost another decade, he was rather quiet, without any memorable role. Coincidentally, that was the period totally dominated by the Koundamani-Senthil duo, sometimes supported by Vadivelu. The turn of the century has been lucky for him, and his unique style of 'funda humor' was very well received by the audience. He has never looked back since. His most memorable movies are Vaali, Minnale, Run, Dhool, Parthiban Kanavu and Anniyan.
Vadivelu: His first movie was 'En rasavin manasile' (1991). He was lucky to picked up early by Kamalhaasan and got a memorable role in 'Thevar magan'. His methods to evoke laughter are his mannerisms, facial expressions, situations in which he is in the 'receiving end', and dialogue delivery. I am glad that his recent release 'Imsai Arasan' is a huge hit.. My favorite movies of his are Thevar magan, Singaravelan, Winner, Giri, Engal Anna and Chandramukhi.
There is only one actor who is truly qualified as a full-time comedian, and, that, is Johnny Lever. He is more of an one-dimensional artist, unfortunately, and lacks the versatility of the tamil comedians discussed above. He, like Vadivelu, doesnt look so pleasing, but has got a few roles to evoke laughter. He has changed his name to sound like the legendary Johnny Walker but there is a huge difference in quality between them. Some movies in which I have liked his comedy are 'Kuch kuch hota hai', 'Kareeb', 'Yes Boss' 'Dulhan hum le jayenge', 'Baadshah', and 'Awara Paagal Deewana'.
Paresh Rawal has changed his career profile from a villain to a nice comedian. I rate him higher than Johnny, becos Paresh is more spontaneous. He has stuck a great chemistry with Priyadarshan to deliver movies like Hera Pheri, Hungama, Hulchul, etc. Unlike the tamil comedians, who can stand their own even in a serious/action movie, Paresh, albeit superbly, acts only in comedy movies. His quality is pretty good, but if you consider him , one also has to consider Kamalhaasan in MMKR to Mumbai Xpress.
So, Tamil comedians score over their Hindi counterparts. The score is, tamil leading Hindi 2-1.
Earlier posts of this series:
I recently watched
a) Wimbledon: A feel-good movie. Though predictable to most part, it has some surprises towards the end. I believe that sports-based movies are trickier to make, bcos people have seen a good action of the sport in TV before.. so they have to be convinced that what they are watching in a movie is in par with what they have seen. When you have 'Wimbledon' as the event, for example, the actors have to play tennis as good as, say, a Sharapova or Federer, to win the title. And, tennis is a 'fast' game. While watching it, the games looked real to me and I felt as if I am watching a LIVE match on TV. Good effort.
b) Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind: An amazing movie with a real tough screenplay.. sort of a sci-fi movie.. Totally non-linear screenplay and only in the end, things fall into place. Good performances from Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. One of the unforgettable movies.
c) Good night and good luck: Somehow I didnt like the movie that much. The actors appeared to be stone-faced and the entertaining parts were hardly any. The 'black-and-white' didnt help either. The event around which the entire movie is based might be of significance to the Americans but I found it hardly strong enough to carry the whole script.
d) Memoirs of a Geisha: This is not one of the typical Japanese/Chinese movies that one expects.. Since I hadn't googled for 'Geisha', I had to patiently wait till the halfway of the movie to know what that means.. The visuals were stunning and the performances were top-notch too. I guess you have to either fall in love with it or dislike it to the core.
e) The Chronicles of Narnia: Pretty much a children's movie.. but, as usual, I enjoyed it. The technical aspects/ visual effects were great. Good story-telling.
f) Mississippi masala: Yeah, old movie but got a chance to watch is just now. It was an interesting movie.. the life and love of a girl of Indian origin who has never been to India. Denzel Washington, Sarita Choudhary, Roshan Seth and Sharmila Tagore all deliver powerful performances in this movie with a tricky story.