Archie is Dead – Long Live Archie !!

Veronica Lodge Home Schooling

(This is not an original Archie gag – This is an “Original” drawn by this writer )

Archie Andrews –An Obituary

For my   generation which  grew up when the phrase “disposable income” didn’t exist, paradise definitely existed on earth and it existed in a small town called Riverdale in the good ol’ U.S. of A , the land of milk and honey,  where in addition to getting a weekly spending allowance from parents for odd jobs like mowing the lawn and washing the car (a real car – not the unwieldy Ambassador or Fiat from Slobsville), this could be splurged on entertaining outings with friends at the Drive-in Cinema or the bowling alley or hanging out at Pop Tate’s Choklitt Shoppe guzzling exotic items such as hamburgers washed down with ice cream soda (whatever  the hell it was – it looked a damned sight more glamorous than the local Panneer Soda).

So it was with some consternation that  I read the headline “Archie to die while fighting to save Riverdale High from a gunman”.

Archie Andrews - An Obituary

The ads showed Archie succumbing to gun shot wounds in the arms of his beloved Betty and Veronica.

I couldn’t for the life of me fathom why the creators would want to do this to us and bump off Archie thereby tearing away a part of our growing up years.

Many of us binged on Archie comics. In addition to wholesome Archie, ‘girl next door’ Betty who pines for Archie, glamorous Veronica – the belle of Riverdale High who never wears the same dress twice, we loved Jughead of the perennially closed eyes and voracious appetite,  chuckled over his  dread of  Big Ethel, laughed uncontrollably at the antics of Big Moose and the depth of his (duh) “dumbness” and his possessiveness of his gal Midge and drooled over the summer editions of  the Betty, Veronica capers, shook our heads in wonderment at Reggie Mantle’s narcissism (“have you got one of those cards which says “you are the Only One I Love?”. “Good – I’’ll take twenty of them) and egghead Dilton Doiley.

In today’s  complex world of the internet  and  living in a virtual world, probably Archie had become an anachronism. But then if Sherlock Holmes could bridge the digital divide and become immensely popular in his modern avatar, why not Archie Andrews ?

Archie could probably relocate to India and China and regale  a huge smartphone wielding  young population and their identification with American pop culture with his travails. Why would they want to destroy an American institution  ? After all Archie is right up there with Coca Cola and moms apple pie.

To be fair to the Archie story boardists, they’ve tried to keep the stories relevant to the changes in society.  But Archie with his wide eyed innocence and sense of wonder which we found so endearing may be out of sync with today’s kids who seem to have an air that life holds no surprises – “Its written here that  Google is working on operating Google Glass solely through thought vibrations so that you can click a photo and even post it on facebook !!” This would elicit a half-bored half-annoyed response “You mean its not been invented yet ?” (Aargh – give me  break)

Whatever the Ifs and Buts, Archie is No More – R.I.P Carrot Top (Sob – Sob)



(Contd. From Part II)

The Wizard of “Oh”s
This was only the second Crazy Mohan collaboration with Kamalahasan (the first one being Apoorva Sagodharargal), and arguably the best.
Crazy Mohan had tried the Paalakkaad angle earlier in his dramas and had a grip of the vernacular which was useful in developing the sequence but nothing full blown had been attempted before in Tamil cinema.
How do you use a dialect of Tamil which does not originate in Tamilnadu, which is not familiar to most Tamilians, which has never been done before and still make a fist of it ? On hindsight it may not seem so but the makers were taking an enormous gamble.
This was the fulcrum of the comedy and there was nothing meaty enough to fall back on if this misfired.
Kameswaran’s first encounter with Thiruppura Sundari (Urvasi) resembles a friendly tennis match with a the protagonists volleying “Ohh”s to each other in this lovely paalakkaad repartee which flows over you like gentle waves in peaks and troughs with a few quick passing shots (“Aaiiii !!”s) inbetween ending in the pun of the century. “ Hmmm ……Graamamum Cukku….Neengalum Cook-ku” in an obvious reference to Kameswaran’s profession.


Paalakkaad Meets Hollywood 4

And there was the ubiquitous suffix “aakkum” which was top of the charts after the movie’s release.
Just when you think there is a temporary drought of Paalakkaad jokes, you have Kameswaran remonstrating to Shalini (Khushboo) in response to her urging (“Take me !” ) :
“Nee yenna batchanamaa eduththukarthukku ??!!
Well, not everyone was pleased. My relatives with the thick Perumbavur accent wondered what the fuss was all about.

Like Ilayaraja’s music in Agni Natchathram, ‘Mykale’’s dialogue seemed to have been written in an inspired moment. It seemed as if all the script writer had to do was get out the way because the deluge of jokes was so strong. Masters of comedy swear that they sit glumly through the funniest comic sequences trying to make it funnier but I suspect this one must have been an exception. Even during the falling house climax sequence, looks like Crazy couldn’t resist one for the road “naan vegetarian oliyo balamillai”
Catch my point ?

The movie capitalized big time on Kamalahasan’s post Nayakan shaven moustache-less look with Apoorva Sagodharargal, and now MMKR. He had made a huge comeback after being down in the dumps with a Hindi misadventure and sans his moustache he looked urbane and less rooted, ready to move fast, in sync with the changing tastes of the audience.

For younger viewers, this may seem incomprehensible but the moustache was an integral part of the Kamal persona in the eighties. When the initial rushes of Nayakan were out, believe it or not there was a mixed reaction to his new look. Some reacted as if the actor had grown a wart in the face.
MMKR also confirmed the appetite for full length comedies which was followed up with ‘Sathi Leelavathi’.
The one liners have lasted so long probably because they worked in different contexts and even after 25 years !

Sample this :
A buddy lets fly a superlative phrase which takes his friend unawares and he responds with admiration : “Idhellaam apdee varudhu illay ?“
Link Raju’s reaction to Madan’s casual turn of phrase “Adhu yennamo ingleesla sonniyay ? soakkaa sonnay yaa. Idhellaam apdee varudhu illay ?

A subordinate goes back to his boss the morning with thousand doubts after receiving explicit instructions on how a certain job is to be done.
The irritated boss responds with exasperation. “Naan enna thelunguliyaa sonnayn ?”
Link to the scene at the wedding hall, one of Paalakkaad Mani iyer’s assistants informs him ‘Yelai poattaachchu”. Varudhukutty immediately repeats “Mama yelai poattaachchaam” Mani Iyer snaps at him “Avan yenna Thelungulliyaa sonnaan ?”

An anxious person seeking advice from a specialist, asks a technical question. Pat comes the disclaimer “Yenakku Beemboy Beemboy theriyum. Gangubai Chakkubai theriyaadhu.”

A guy infatuated with a new female entrant in the office chats her up and then discreetly enquires “Shalini Sivaraman-naaa…….Indha Sivaramanungradhu ?”…….(waits for her to elaborate)
Female replies “ Appa !”
(Sigh of relief from the office Don Juan: “HABBBBAAAA !”).

The nuances of each character such as Raju regretting that he couldn’t raise the money to pay back the Pathani shylock with ‘Andha 25a yeppadiyaavudhu eduththudalaamnnu paarthaa….KADAISEE leg-la poiduchchu saar !” or Madan, the England returned MBA always unsure of himself and diffident when uttering slightly complicated Tamil words such as ‘Aalmaaraattam’ and then his mild irritation when learning that Raju was not criticizing his pronunciation of ‘Aalmaaraattam’ but actually referring to his (Madan’s) oft used phrase “Catch My Point”.

The side characters are so well etched such as Michael’s father played by Santhana Bharathi , Thiruppu’s Thiruttu Paatti, Varudhu kutty, Avinaaashi, and the list goes on. In some great films, there are memorable side characters who support the protagonist. In the best case scenario you’d have 3or 4 but FIFTEEN ???!!!
Some of the most memorable lines are uttered by characters with barely 0.85 seconds of screen time . like the duo coming out angrily out of the wedding hall in scene 2 “I mean what I mean…But they cant be so mean !” which is the knock out punch to an elaborate sequence involving a fish which has found its way into the sambhar by accident.

MMKR was released on Deepavali. It takes me back to the days when I was struggling to complete CA Inter. That was my first attempt and I failed. But luckily my family was so busy shifting house that I didn’t get much flak at home. My whole batch had passed except my friend Shyam (yet again, name changed BUT NOT ON REQUEST) and I.
It was the sweltering summer of ’91 and Michael was already through its first run in the Udhayam theatre and was now making the rounds of the B theatres such as Nataraj, Thyagaraja, Jayanthi, etc.

Everyday after dinner Shyam would motor down to my house on his scooter and we’d do some joint study interspersed by breaks to watch some TV or listen to songs on our cassette collection. Then around midnight we’d step out for a walk from my flat at Gandhinagar 2nd Main Road to Adyar junction, LB Road at midnight for a cup of tea at the tea kadai – (yes in those days you still had tea kadais on LB road before Real estate prices made them unviable). Along the way, he’d catch a poster of MMKR stuck near the bus stand and exclaim “Dei ! Machee MYKALE Daa !!!” (you will recall MMKR was always referred to among the faithful as Mykale (sic) ). With great effort I had to restrain him “Dei Irudaa ! Exam mudiyattum Apram paakkalaam” (Wait , let the exam get over then we can see it again). Yes, we did get through the exam and sure enough watched it again.
Each time we saw it we savoured different facets of it.

If you’re still curious, the snatch of dialogue which Srinivasan found (Part I of this article) after 20 years was by Michael s father (played by Santhana Bharathi). Its in the final Act when Michael and his father land up at Madan’s bungalow for the grand finale to steal the money from Madan’s safe. Santhanabharathi grabs a rifle from the various show pieces displayed in the huge living room and an irritated Michael comes down hard on him. “Indha gunna vechchu estatela Panneeya sudalaamnnu paarthaa…. vida maattayngraan” (Michael’s father grumbles and mutters under his breath).

Come to think of it – I take back my words that the movie doesn’t contain “sentiment”.
An innocuous , throwaway line in the movie made me sentimental.

When Shalini and her father (Venneer Aadai Moorthy) are in a dilemma as to how to get to Bangalore from Madras (Moorthy’s thought process “Vaygamaa Woadinaalum Moonu naal edukkum”), Raju (now in Madan’s garb) is delighted to come to the rescue and offers “Vaanga Naan azhaishindu poarayn – Foreign car la poirkkeengla ? A.C irukkum”.
Even in 1990 only foreign cars had airconditioning. These days can you think of a car without A.C ? it would be worse than travelling in a bullock cart.




In fond memory of C.S.Hariharan Senior

(Contd. From Part I)

Part II

The basic premise is as simple as they come – Rich man’s brother plots his downfall. While escaping from the brother’s pursuit, rich man’s wife gives birth to 4 sons under the refuge of a good samaritan. The brother orders the children to be killed. In Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs fashion, the person assigned to the job undergoes a change of heart and abandons the children instead of killing them except one of them whom he adopts himself (Michael). One reaches the rich man himself (Madan), the second grows up in a Paalakkaad Brahmin cook’s house (Kameswaran) and the last of the quartet is Rajan or chellamaaa surukkamaa Subrahmanya Raju for short (sic).

A neutrino size   break   at this point. All the foregoing is encapsulated in ONE TITLE SONG SEQUENCE !! This begs the question, why would the makers of the film compress what took one-third of Amar Akbar Anthony’s screen running time into half the time it took to formulate and type the previous paragraph ? Because………there were too many goodies in store for the audience and why waste valuable time on what is merely a foreword.

Catch my point ?

End of neutrino size break. Years later, Madan has completed an MBA in England (not the USA), Raju is a fireman, Kameswaran assists his father in his wedding catering service and Michael is a small time hood. The brother of the rich man – Madan’s father – and his son (played by Nasser) are still plotting his death. They run his car off a cliff and make it look like an accident but he survives. The bad news is he goes mad in the process but the good news is he is reunited with his wife who went missing years ago.

Interesting sidelight, the actors who played the rich man and his brother are also brothers in real life.

The events which bring together the 4 sons after they’ve become adults forms the rest of the plot – not story – P..L..O..T.. A story can put you to sleep………..

Kamal is first and foremost an ace writer. The intricate, unflagging plot, show cases Kamal’s script writing skills. One segment flows seamlessly into another segment, linking up seemingly unconnected settings and events even before you realize it. The James Bond school of script writing’s influence is strongly in evidence here. Kamal had applied it quite successfully 3 years earlier in ‘Vikram’ – a screenplay that Albert R. Broccoli would have been proud of – a spy hideout and chase through the most unlikeliest of places, an agraharam with a crescendo ending in a movie theatre while the Films Division news is going on. The Films Division newsreel headlines an event in the land of Salaamiya (the chase is immediately out of our minds) which in turn sends the hero on a different trail.

Catch my point ?

Kamal carries on the good work in the script department here. You never get the impression that any part of the film is a set piece. During the entire journey, the manner in which the brothers cross each other’s paths, literally within yards of each other yet remain blissfully unaware of each others’ existence is so well thought out – there is always an invisible wall or character forming a bridge between the brothers which is never crossed.

A case in point is the scene where the Pathani moneylender browbeats Raju into paying up his dues . It ends in the moneylender being taken by surprise flinging a plate of fish from the verandah which lands on the next Kamal character to be introduced, Kameswaran.

It is at this juncture that dialogue writer Crazy Mohan bristling at the non-striker’s end with a long period of inactivity fires the first salvo with a barrage of Paalakaad lingo “Kathrikkai Kashnaththa vitterinjaa yellaam seriyaapoachchaaa ?” which forms the meat of the movie’s comedy (more on that later)

Similarly, Madan’s cousin (Nasser) sends 2 small time crooks on Madan’s trail. They follow him, and Madan’s giant valet Beemboy (Praveen Kumar of Mahabharat fame) from the airport. When they lose his trail, Kameswaran comes out of nowhere on a scooter with his helper, Varudhukutty on the pillion seat. The script teases the viewers repeatedly in this fashion by bringing Kameswaran tantalizingly close to the crooks surveillance car till you realize you’ve been unconsciously holding your breath like the car’s occupants. Ofcourse, Crazy Mohan signs off the scene with “Anga oru Adi aal….Inga oru podia al. Pala sizela adi aal vechchirukkaanda…Dei ivan jagdjaala killaadidaa….”

The James Bond influence is visible in other departments also. Madan’s sidekick Beem Boy, to whom he delegates all the heavy work in typical MBA fashion, is a desi version of the Bond comic giant villain Jaws, played so well by 7 foot tall Richard Kiel (In ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’, Jaws   lands up in the middle of the ocean after a failed chase to kill Bond and when waylaid by a shark retaliates by biting the shark !! ). Only there is huge touch of Big Moose’s innocence in addition to his brutish strength.


In the early days of animated cartoons, due to the astronomical cost of producing even one cartoon short, Walt Disney ensured that there were no lulls between the gags. The script had to be relentless till the very end.

The same principle is applied here. Not a snip of film is wasted.

The movie takes a dig at practically everything , most of all, Tamil cinema itself. Raju on the phone with his paramour Shalini asks her what dress she’ s wearing and she replies ‘Black and White ‘ and he replies ‘Appo Naan Colorla release aaidrayn’. The Peyar vechchallum song pokes fun at the frequent dress changes in song sequences but takes choreography by the scruff of its neck into the next century. Shalini (played by   Khushbu) is baffled and even conveys her astonishment at the speed of the dress change while the song sequence is on.

There’s even a dig at Doordarshan also. But the cardinal principle is obeyed here also – viz. NO Wastage of screen time.

Beem is watching cartoon network while eating a banana – his Pluto-ish expression belonged inside Cartoon network not outside. In exasperation, Madan asks him “Beem, why don’t you watch something else – give some food for your thoughts ?” (an oblique reference to Beem’s swallowing the banana. Beem replies in all sincerity “Doordarashan Paakkavaa boss ?”

While Madan is on the phone and absent mindedly watches the TV, his attention is violently diverted to the screen as he finds out that Manorama and Roopini have pulled a fast one on him and Roopini is not a blind cripple.

Bottomline, even the Doordarshan dig moves the plot along.

Catch my point ?

End of Part II

(To be Concluded)

Next Part : The Wizard of Ohz



“Can you ask your son to wait outside the room for a few minutes ?” asked the doctor. A wave of trepidation swept over my wife and myself. In all the years that we had known him we had never seen him display such depth of feeling. He seemed grave and puzzled at the same time and had the air of someone about to communicate very bad news. He looked at us quietly for what seemed like an eternity and then asked “why is the boy so stressed ?……….” Looking at our confused expression, he said vehemently “There is NOTHING wrong with him ! This whole pain has been brought on by stress and worry – nothing else”.

Imagine our relief when he said this. For the last couple of months we were in and out of the nearby hospital and clinic – what started as an innocuous swelling on the finger metamorphosed into unbearable pain in the abdomen, especially at night. The sight of our son writhing in pain was pure torture and there seemed to be no answer in sight.
Though he was on the threshold of entering high school, and not a child any more we still took him to Dr.Subramanian, our paediatrician of many years. And the doctor didn’t once evince surprise or refer us to someone else.
Slightly relieved after his gentle admonition to us, my thoughts went back in time over the years to our first visit to his clinic. The summer was particularly bad even by the standard of Madras summers. My family was still trying to come to terms with our return to Madras on my joining a new company after years spent in Baroda and Bangalore.
And added to the rigours of shifting from one city to another and setting up house, my son fell ill and was vomiting. As luck would have it, before I could even think of which doctor to see, my co-brother referred me to Dr.Subramanian , whose clinic was luckily a few streets away from where we lived.
A high gate led us into a residence cum clinic with a large garden-cum-sit out – obviously the place had been bought in an era of benign real estate prices. The waiting room looked like a converted garage with inviting red oxide flooring with a fish tank in one corner and themes from all religions adorning the walls dominated by a poster with a translation of the Gayathri Mahamantra.

We didn’t have to wait long before one of the pillars of our existence, the doctor’s receptionist, motioned to us to go in to his room-clinic. In that first meeting I found him to be quietly and fiercely focused until the diagnosis presented itself like another minor station on a long train journey.

“You should have brought a towel” he said, somewhat irritated when my son vomited on the chair. And that was my introduction to dehydration as a cause of vomiting. When he heard that I’d recently joined the World Bank, he nodded and mentioned another patient of his who was also employed at the Bank. When he enquired what I did at the Bank, my answer which had its source in half frustration (I was going through a rough period at that time) and half self-mockery seemed to amuse him.
In fact that’s one of the things I’ve come to associate with him in the years that followed, his air of mild amusement. Nothing seemed to surprise him or cause depth of feeling. His concentration was well disguised by a far away look which seemed to border on carelessness but he’d catch you off guard with his next remark which put paid to any doubts on that score.
I could never figure out if this was relaxed concentration or concentrated relaxation !

I like to think of the years that followed as the wheezing years.

We were constantly in and out of his clinic due to my son’s respiratory problems and like an experienced opening batsman enjoying the variation in the armoury of a veteran fast bowler I had the opportunity to see a master at work from close quarters.

He had a constant no-nonsense air about him and his instructions were peppered with healthy doses (pun intended) of common sense.
Quite unlike what one would expect of a paediatrician, he never changed his manner when communicating with the children who visited his clinic. He probably felt it distracted him from the more serious business of diagnosis. In fact he seemed to speak both to parents and children in the same way !
And the children also responded to him inspite of the absence of empty endearments or misdirected attempts at fun and games to get an “in” with them.
Though not given to over the top displays of emotion he did have his pet ideas about which he was quite passionate.

He was an advocate of steaming in addition to the prescribed medicine and religiously worked it into his prescriptions.

When my wife once asked what medicine to take, he replied sternly “First steaming. If you do steaming then No medicine required”
On one occasion, I mentioned once that getting caught in the rain might have caused the severe cold, he launched into one of his rare lectures. “Jalaththunaala Dhosham Varaadhu “ he stated. (Doesn’t translate well – means plainly that the water (Jalam) is not the cause of disease – it was a play on the word ‘Jaladhosham’ meaning cough & cold in Tamil). “It is the impurities in the water which are the cause of disease and not the water itself”.

He was also vehement in his denunciation of fruit juice. “How many fruits go into making a fruit juice ? In a country where scarcity is abundant, why take the fruit out of the mouths of so many poor people ?” Realizing that logic doesn’t sell as much as raw emotion, he just plainly admonished the parents of his patients “Avoid fruit juice, its VESHAM (POISON) !!!” He spat it out like some Sicilian swear word, knowing that he held some influence with this audience especially the influential female side of the parent equation.

On another occasion, when I was about to leave for Washington amidst the swine flu scare and asked him what kind of mask I should take with me, without answering me directly, he just sneered that he had just come back from the airport “what nonsense ! People trooping around in masks everywhere – as if that’s going to protect them”.

For the first time that I knew, he reluctantly wrote out a list of medicines more as a fall back option as he could foresee that I’d never get to use any of them on my short trip.

Amidst all this was the humour which defined the man and his innate curiosity about people and machines like his beloved Enfield Bullet from his student days. At times he would talk enthusiastically for uncountable minutes when the mood seized him and when he found a patient with similar interests. Sometimes this irritated the women who felt the doctor was being unfair to the crowd of patients waiting outside his room.

I fell sick once and though Adyar is heaven if you’re looking for any kind of specialist, strangely there are no general practitioners who immediately come to mind. So, it didn’t strike me as odd to visit Dr.Subramanian and wait outside along with other child patients.

“Next batsman” he quipped without batting an eyelid when I trooped in – his lips crinkling in an amused smile, eyes half closed.

On another occasion when my wife asked him one doubt too many and as an after thought suddenly asked him when she should discontinue the medication, he replied without looking up from his writing pad “after the case is finished” (a reference to the Shankar Raman murder case which dominated the news at that time). Then quick not to give offense to his constituency of patients’ mothers, he quickly smiled “I’ll let you know when”.

Jonathan Swift , the author of the classic Gulliver’s Travels once said that the three doctors most essential to one’s well being were Dr.Diet, Dr.Quiet and Dr.Merryman.

#Dr.No #Dr.Subramanian #Shastrinagar
And a certain Dr.Subramanian too perhaps ?


Srinivasan (name changed on request) reached the office and logged in purposefully in the morning. Things weren’t great at the office, more work piling up, more pressure, more uncertainty at the workplace, more conflict, his son close to finishing school and on the threshold of college. But for this morning all this was scrubbed out of his resilient mind.
His pulse raced, he was elated, he’d struck a small amount of pay dirt, he’d discovered a NEW JOKE in Michael Madana Kama Rajan -MMKR for short – or “Mykale (colloquial for ‘Michael’ as it was lovingly called back then) !

A treasure trove of gags, one liners, and belly ache inducing comedy sequences, he had watched it more than 20 times and knew all the jokes packed in every nook and cranny, or so he thought until he discovered yet another one quite by chance.
Sirisha (again name changed on request) had logged into her school batch WhatsApp group about 40 minutes into a euphoric exchange of posts on Mykale’s hilarious one liners. One male member had posted a line from the film “aambala kettaa verun adhyaayam thaan ….aanaa pombala kettaa pusthakamay poatturuvaa” (loosely translated to mean that if a man commits a peccadiloe he can continue with life as before after negotiating a small period of acrimony but if a woman commits a similar indiscretion her life is pretty much finished). Sirisha responded lightheartedly to the post with “is that hearsay or experience talking ?”.

Immediately all the MMKR afficionados were all over her like a cheap suit. She was dubbed an oddity – someone who had seen the film but didn’t remember any of the dialogues. And even more, this was not just a movie………. this was an experience !

At its very least, Michael Madana Kama Rajan was one of the few out and out comedies of Tamil cinema upto that point, a tamil movie genre, the constituents of which you could count on the fingers of your left hand, with not a moment of typical tamil film ‘sentiment’ (read emotional gymnastics). The tamil movies of the eighties were more like an assorted L.I.C Moneyback policy offering an unfathomable mixture of life insurance cover, investment returns, return of principal and not enough of anything. Possibly due to the lower income levels and the attitude of more bang for buck, a film production had to contain myriad elements to cater to different sections of the audience or different wants of the same section in one sitting. Movies like Kanni Raasi which started out very well with a great comedy track meandered to a melodramatic whimper. MMKR would have none of that. Apart from the delicious comic lines which flowed from the very essence of who the characters were at the core, the slapstick sequences had ace choreography – from the Peyar Vechchaalum song to the final collapsing house sequence on the hill.

Released in 1990 on Deepavali, it was a beacon of light in what was a forgettable, dry year for the Tamil film industry which included a lukewarm response to Mani Ratnam’s Anjali and damp squibs like Rajnikanth’s Adhisaya Piravi and Karthik’s Idhaya Thaamarai.

Rear Window 1C

(This is a RED HERRING)


It didn’t create much pre-release hype or even anticipation beyond some polite curiousity about the same actor doing 4 roles- unlike Aboorva Sagodharargal where the anticipation of seeing Kamal playing a dwarf pre-sold the movie to a large extent. Triple roles were perceived as having been done before and done well by Sivaji in films such as Bale Paandiya and Navaraathri. Double and triple roles were after all nothing new in Tamil cinema………… but all that changed when the Oliyum Oliyum telecast on Deepavali carrying the song ‘Sundari Neeyum’ with its class picturization, zapped the audience out of their living room chairs similar to what the ‘Rajaadhiraajan Indha Raajaa’ song did for Agni Natchathiram.
Sundari Neeyum, is an example of perfect fusion – a total Carnatic tune in the foreground and a totally Western background. The intersection is magical. It conclusively proves that so called fusion never works unless both the classical and modern forms maintain their integrity.

Cars were starting to be fitted with sophisticated stereo systems at that time and it wasn’t uncommon to find youngsters playing the opening percussion beat of the song umpteen times on their car sound systems.
I recall my friend’s father getting a special pass for the Income Tax Commissioner for a pre-release show and word soon got out that this was a laugh riot that was not to be missed.

(To be Concluded)

#Michael MadanaKamaRajan #Kamalahasan #Crazy Mohan