Jul 20, 2006

Tamil vs Hindi Cinema: 5. Comedians

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 comedians:
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.
Hindi comedians:
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.


Balaji said...

i think this was an easy one since tamil cinema is way ahead when it comes to comedy/comedians. there have been some good comedies in hindi too but its mostly heroes who make us laugh. there's a real paucity of good comedians in hindi. i think the only language that can compete with tamil cinema in comedy is malayalam.

Raju said...

Balaji, yeah.. it was easy. I agree with you that Hindi heroes, esp. Akshays and Suniel Shetty are mostly into comedy nowadays..

I have to watch some Mallu movies to appreciate your comment on that. Its been long time...

sks said...

raju, i am not very aware of the tamil comedians, but i guess some of these comedians unless they are able to reinvent themselves they would be out of job. And if the comedian just does one kind of comedy and yet the industry doesn't get tired of him then there is something wrong. Boman Irani, rajal yadav do contribute to comedy while they cannot be categorically be calssified as comedians.
and where is jonhy lever now. People get over them. Asrani is back but not as a comedian anymore.
p.s. i was palnning to watch good night and good luck but thanks for your opinion.

Nitin said...

its very tough to compare vivek & vadivelu.for the past five years i have been a great fan of vivek comedy.Nowadays, he doesn't act in too many movies, because most of the top heroes dont like as he makes fun of them in his comedy. But he is way better comedian than vadivelu, i think vivek's turning point in his carrier was the movie Thirunelveli, everytime i watch the comedy scenes alone, it makes me laugh. Vadivelu, on the other hand is getting better i think, but he still uses that adidhadi comedy, where one guy kicks the other guy, or just beats up the other guy, and we are supposed to find it funny like goundamani & senthil. IMHO, Vivek wins the best comedian in recent times, because he is an educated guy, and some of his comedy has a social message in it, which we can agree with.

The Talkative Man said...

Vivek's debut was in Manadhil Urudhi Vendum(1987).

Raju said...

Sanjay, yeah.. Boman Irani and Rajpal Yadav are good.. but, as u said, they appear in 4 or 5 movies in a year max.
Nitin, as I mentioned in the post, Vivek and vadivelu operate in different zones. Whereas Goundamani and senthil were famous only for the 'adithadi' comedy, Vadivelu has given some good comedy too. Vivek is indeed the better of the two..
Ttm, I had a doubt too.. should have checked it out.. Thanks for the correction..

tt_giant said...

Nice write-up. My fav ones are these 2 and Goundamani.

I think goundamani excelled in mannan (sometimes more than thala)and singara-velan (a lil bit asaivam, but still..)

"uLLey vettu, vezhiye rivittu, viLanga mudiyaa paritchai naan" cracks me every time!

his mannerisms in winner, bharathi kannamma (cremation ground scene, esp) and vetri kodi kattu were amazing.

Kannan Raman said...

i think paresh stands alone in a different place when you compare him with jonny and vadivelu, vivek.

he makes you cry at times and laugh too.

Raju said...

Deepak, thanks..

Koundamani had some terrific movies with P.Vasu.. Along with the ones you mentioned, Nadigan and Ullathai Allithaa come to my mind..

I dont understand the Vivek comedy segment 'Ulley..'. what is rivittu? Probably I havent watched the film so I dont get it
Kannan, welcome here.. Paresh is superb.. no doubt about it.. but can you label him as a stand-alone comedian?

Nag said...

hi i am visting the page after long time. I think u missed to comment on the movie 23rd pulakesi or something like that which i happend to watch recently.

Nitin said...

Raju, have you watched Vasoolraja MBBS, Kamal explains "rivet" to Prakashraj, I think rivet is like a nail, which can only be hit by hammer. So "rivettu" is like the tamil work "aapu". Unakku aapu vekaran. That comedy was from Dhool I believe, "Ulley Irittu, Vellai Rivettu, Velangu Mudiya Parichai Naan". Nandakumara Nandakumara, passa faila theriyalaye. WHich reminds me, I think to the list of good comedians, you could also add Kamalhassan,him and crazymohan combo has given some good comedy movies. Michael Madana Kama Rajan is one the best all out comedy movies.

tt_giant said...

Soopa busy a?

Raju said...

Nag, I watched 23rd Pulikesi only after writing this post.. I liked it too.. Vadivelu was impressive in the two different roles.
Nitin, thanks for the clarification. LOL on this 'rivittu' thing.. somehow i dont remember the scenes u have mentioned..
Deepak, amam.. tooo many things to do.. esp. the India trip next week.. so couldnt write..

narayanan said...

as ttm said, vivek (and ramesh aravind) did debut in manadhil urudhi vendum as suhasini's brothers

Raju said...

Narayanan, vaanga vaanga.. eppadi irukkeenga? romba naal achu..

mm.. my bad.. I should have checked about Vivek..

raj said...

raju, paresh rawal was originally a villain/character actor - bollywood likes its character actors to turn into clowns - and that's what has happened to him , much like Anupam Kher. He is a versatile actor and has acted(superbly) as Sardar Vallbh Bhai Patel, in case you didnt know.
His comic mannerisms are one-dimensional I agree. But then you could say that of Vivek also. Vadively, I agree stands on a different plane - and he proved it with Imsai Arasan. I would forgive all his Kovai Sarala adi vaangum comedies for Imsai Arasan. Infact, do you think Vikram, Vijay or Ajeeth could have played UkkiraBudhan?I think not.

Raju said...

Raj, welcome here..

Paresh's transformation from a character/villain role to comedian was highly influenced by 'Hera Pheri', since he was the only older guy among the trio. BTW, I didnt mention his performance as one-dimensional.. that was Johnny Walker's, IMHO..

Vadivelu was awesome in Imsai... Like you, I too doubt whether anyeone would have done with elan.. Certainly not Vijay or Ajith... Vikram hasnt tried hardcore comedy movie yet.. I am looking for such a movie..

raj said...

raju, didnt notice that you were talking about paresh on that one dimension thing. On Imsai Arasan and Vadivelu , note that I was challenging Vikram, Vijay or Ajeeth to do Ukkira Budhan not Pulikesi :-)
I mean, yes, pulikesi is difficult for these heroes to match with vadivelu's performance. But I go one step further and claim that none of these heroes can even manage the 'hero' character of UkkiraBudhan - because none of them have the tamil diction that Vadivelu managed in the movie. Even the mannerisms and body language of a rebel prince, our man was spot on. I think only Vikram among the three can get that body language right forget the tamil diction :-)

Raju said...

Raj, I donno whether you have got me wrong again.. I was NOT talking about Paresh on the 1-D thing but on Johnny Lever.

And, sorry, I misunderstood 'Ukkirabudhan' vs 'Pulikesi'.. Oh yeah, sure.. in fact, as Pulikesi, he was always expected to excel but the Ukkirabudhan was a surprise act for me too from Vadivelu. I was wondering the way he showed gr8 differences in body language, dialog delivery and mannerisms between the 2 roles, as u mentioned. I agree with you, he was truly amazing as Ukkirabudhan too..
Gud point about his tamil diction. It was indeed a very new Vadivelu.

raj said...

raju, no i meant to write Lever but ended up confusing again by typing paresh.
Yeah, Vadivelu went up several notches in my estimation after pulikesi. That he had so many notches to climb wsa because he had fallen so many notches after playing Senthil to Kovai Sarala's Goundamani in several movies- oh! that was his worst phase - those vsekar type movies. WINNER redeemed him to an extent but he again relapsed into adidhadi comedy playing Senthil to all and sundry. Pulikesi was a revelation -one dialogue and his delivery still reverberates in my mind - "Matram ondru dhaane mama ulagil maaramal iruppadhu". I often think of how Vijay, Ajith or Simbu would have performed that and ROTFL :-)

Raju said...

Raj, OK.. the doubt is cleared. :)

Vadivelu's low phase indeed was during the slapstick comedy period of mid-90's.. I totally hate them. He had a good chemistry going with Parthiban and even that appeared to be overused in movies like 'Kundakka mandakka'. Though he is quite suitable in comedy with him being at the 'receiving end' (Winner, Giri, etc.), he needs to strike a balance in playing to his strength and being highly repetitive and predictable.

I remember the dialogue u mentioned.. yeah he was damn serious while saying it.. He might have belonged to the class of actors who used to memorize and chant Sivaji's dialogues from Parasakthi, Manohara, Kattabomman, etc. The actors u mentioned need not/may not have done that. It makes a difference in dialog delivery, though Vadivelu mostly speaks in Madurai tamil in his movies.

Anonymous said...

" He might have belonged to the class of actors who used to memorize and chant Sivaji's dialogues from Parasakthi,"

raju, there's that ofcourse. And yes, he does slip into madurai slang most often. Yesterday I was watching Kalaignar's Paasakiligal on Sun TV, a oh-so-50's movie. And sure enough, Vadivelu hum-sings Ka-ka-Ka in a scene requring him to walk carefully. I guess he must be in the range of 45-50 who grew in awe of sivaji and picked up quie a bit of tamil. Infact, didnt vivek doa good job of a parasakthi parody in a court scene comedy in one of his movies?

Raju said...

Anon, mm.. I agree with you. Vivek was fantastic in that Parasakthi scene - I donno which movie it was. But, what I meant to say was that, unlike them, our young heroes wouldnt have dont that. They might have found Rajini's dialogues worth mimicking than Sivaji's.. since they all aspire to be the 'Next Rajini'. Why w'd they waste their time in 'old fashioned, and overacting Sivaji's' dialogues?

And you can notice that, no matter which area of TN they are shown to belong to in the movies, their accent is the same. Esp. Vijay doesnt show any diff. at all. I have always found TN a unique land where people in different regions speak thamizh differently. Except Kamal, no one pays attention to that, unfortunately.

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js said...

I really love hilarious comedies! This is my favorite genre!

chetan said...

i think hindi film industry has produced more comediens like govinda, akshay, shakti kapoor, kader khan, etc they cannot be compared with any other comodiens

Berlin said...

FYI, Vivek made his debut in "Manadhil urudhi vendum" in 1986 itself. This was also directed by K.Balachander. He was infamous till "Pudhu pudhu arthangal".

Raju said...

Chetan, Govinda and Akshay started off as action heroes and later transformed to comedy actors.. I like them.. but Shakti Kapoor and Kader Khan? They are gross.. Monotonous, predictable and highly irritating. True, they can't be compared with any other comedians.. :)
Berlin, yeah.. i forgot Vivek's debut.. Check for The talkative man's comment and my reply to him.. Thanks for pointing it out, any way.. :)