#100days100scenes: Wordplay based comedy

One of the sub-genres in comedy that I enjoy a lot is word play based. Puns, similar sounding words, non vulgar double entendre could be slapstick at one level if done poorly but sufficiently intelligent in the hands of a good writer.

Crazy Mohan is one such writer. He is an engineer from one of the top colleges - so definitely brainy. His humour is very word play driven in Tamil and is satirical. He started by staging dramas and running a troupe in the 80s and then became a full fledged writer for movies. Making his debut with K. Balachander and then pairing up with Kamal Haasan, he has given atleast 7 laugh riots -  Sathi Leelavathi ( remade in Hindi as Biwi no.1 but completely losing the realism of the original) Kaathala Kaathala (reused in Housefull and No entry)Michael Madana Kama Rajan (needs a separate post )Apoorva Sagodharargal (Appu Raja)Avvai Shanmughi (Chachi 420)Thenali (surprisingly not remade , should have been Govindas comeback movie)Panchathanthiram (again not remade despite being a supreme laughriot). 

I started the comedy mini series by saying making fun of a language is insulting a language. I come full circle with Michael Madan Kama Rajan. Kamal Haasan when he had run out of ideas hit upon an idea of playing 4 roles as lost quadruplets speaking 4 different types of Tamil!! Directed by Singeetam Sreenivasan Rao the same guy who did Pushpak and Appu Raja, the movie had ample scope for comic tension. The highlight is Kamal Haasan as Kaameswaran  the Palakkad Tamil Iyer , the sect I belong to. Because Kamal Haasan played it so well , it became a benchmark or the musuem setpiece to understand the way Palakkad Iyers think, speak and live life. Since they are Tamil Iyers who lived in Kerala for many centuries , their language is a curious mix of Tamil and Malayalam. Highly conservative but well educated , middle class thrift with a natural lack of machismo and their constant need to self-preserve their unique identity characterizes this community and they have been butt of jokes in cinema or typecast as cooks or singers. This movie managed to depict them in a  straight out of life way and managed to evoke laughter by the words spoken and not just the way. Kamal Haasan nailed it by getting the diction so right and Urvashi in her naturally Malayalamized Tamil provided the perfect escort.

This scene is where Kameswaran and his father a famous cook named Mani Iyer are serving a marriage and they realise that a small fish has fallen into the sambhar. Word play follows  first simply- meen is Tamil for fish and I mean in English. It increases when Kamal introduces himself to Urvashi - word play with cook and cookgramam ( small village). Then there is a whole lot of Palakkad Tamil usage - Kitaala , Kittaya - adverbs that get inadvertently added in a sing song fashion