It has been seven days since Crazy Mohan passed away. It’s still a daze to think how he just vanished almost minutes after he was talking to his younger brother Madhu Balaji. Seven days and life continues to function alright, but the mind is filled with memories of Mohan which leaps up from many a corner. The laughter he managed to evoke even in a rather ordinary conversation, the warmth in his demeanour, and his child-like approach to interacting with people is what I loved most about him. It’s one thing to be a creative person — it’s another to be a “kind-hearted, creative person”. Crazy Mohan that way, was the kindest creative personality I will ever know.
His long-standing success in the world of theatre and cinema also comes from him being a “long term person”. Mohan was never a short-term candidate in any aspect. He was a long-committed family man, he was that long-standing friend and he had a long, remarkable career. His humour was not one of mere jokes; his wit was not one of mere repartees. There was this huge PG Wodehouse influence in his characters, along with major situational humour which came from him being a fan of writer-director CV Sridhar and thereafter, K Balachander.
What we see in the films where Mohan collaborated with Kamal Haasan are but a tip of their humour iceberg! The funniest jibes and jokes would emerge when they would discuss other film scripts or recount respective stories from personal experience (even a sad moment would get a funny turn with both of them) and tie it in with the script under discussion. It has been my privilege to witness this banter on more than a few occasions where Mohan’s off-guard comment will be met with a razor sharp punch from Kamal Haasan.
Theirs is perhaps the longest successful creative collaborations which has crossed 10 superhit films. I don’t know how many of us will recall Mohan’s cameo in the blockbuster Telugu film Indrudu Chandrudu (Indran Chandran in Tamil) where he plays a patient stuck with fellow inmates in a mental hospital with whom the hero (Kamal Haasan) escapes. It is one of the most memorable gag strips ever written or enacted in a mental asylum, retaining the sensitivity needed when it comes to the context of the scene. The Mohan-Kamal’s duo shines even in films which don’t star Kamal in the lead role, for eg: Magalir Mattum. The key unforgettable character in that film was played by Nagesh — who acts as a corpse lugged around by the three women.
It’s a plot of sheer genius and one which also had another genius of humour enacting it!
Of all the plays by Crazy Creations, Beware of Madhu and Madhu +2 are still my favourites. The latter found its way into a film script, directed by Santhana Bharathi with Prabhu as the lead, to much aplomb. The film was Chinna Mappillai, which also had chartbusters from Ilaiyaraaja. Over the years, Mohan’s brand of humour has remained hard to match.
The kind of humour writing one witnessed in the mass masala caper, Aboorva Sagodarargal, or the much acclaimed Michael Madana Kamarajan that still remains a benchmark for anyone aspiring to write comedy for a superstar hero. For Crazy Mohan, every day was a chilled out one because he made sure he would never stress himself out with the mundane. His mind remained childlike right through his life — no matter the ups and downs he faced. That, combined with an intelligence which humour writing requires, ensured he shone bright. Au revoir Crazy Mohan — the laughs are already aplenty and will continue on, as Crazy Creations prepare to stage their Crazy Premiere League on June 30th. You’ll live on through our laugh lines.