June 10 marked the one year death anniversary of ‘Crazy’ Mohan whose contribution to Tamil cinema with his witty one-liners, puns and smart wordplay is fondly recalled by fans. Tokyo Tamil Sangam organised a Zoom conference call to celebrate the screenwriter and theatre personality by inviting people such as actor-politician Kamal Haasan, his close friend and many-time collaborator, actors Khusbhu Sundar, Nasser, Prabhu, director KS Ravikumar, singer Nithyasree, musician Rajhesh Vaidhya and many others.
Many participated in the Zoom conference, co-hosted by Mohan’s brother Maadhu Balaji along with Tokyo Tamil Sangam, to share their fondest memories of having known or worked with Crazy Mohan.
“In Anbe Sivam film, there’s a dialogue that we wrote together on friendship and brotherhood between two men. “Idhenna kadhala, asingama solikitrukarthuku. Iruku. Vitrunga.” (Is this love or what, to keep proclaiming it (awkwardly). It is there. Leave it). This is applicable to us,” Kamal said at the very beginning of his video. “He’s like a child who looked at this world with a lot of wonder,” he added.
Needless to say, the camaraderie and friendship that the two shared, is well-known to many. Their relationship was all the more cemented by the memorable films they made together.
Crazy Mohan’s wife too joined in the conversation with Kamal, and the two reminisced about the times when Kamal and Mohan spent most of their times together. “I’d tease him, whenever there’s a missed call from you, that his first wife had called. That was how close the two of you were. I think he spoke more with you than he did with me,” she said.
When their conversation took on an emotional turn, Kamal reminded everyone that ‘Crazy’ would not approve of it.
Kamal spoke about the time when Akshara (his second daughter), then a four-year-old, shot an employee of a next-door bank with a toy air-rifle by mistake and immediately hid herself while calling Mohan to stand in her place.
“When they angrily came outside, he received an earful. He’d laugh and comment on how Akshara made him look like the culprit there,” he said. He also spoke about the fun they had with Nagesh and Crazy Mohan on the sets of Apoorva Sagodharargal. Kamal fondly recalled how they spent hours on the phone together, and would find a quiet spot in parties to talk to each other.
“It was a time when cinema humour was fraying. Cho had left acting to join politics and director Moulee started making serious films. Tamil cinema humour was almost like an unclaimed orphan. I never understood why Moulee wanted to make serious drama. Humour is not an easy thing. It is very serious like Carnatic music. One cannot be a bathroom singer here. It is very serious business. He was someone who understood that and I immediately picked up on it,” Kamal said.
Talking about one of their best films together, Michael Madana Kamarajan, Kamal said, “I had literally drawn out the screenplay, drawing lines from one character to the other. Only Mohan understood it immediately. No one else could have,”. He added that they’d discuss works by PG Wodehouse and Oscar Wilde, especially The Importance of Being Earnest. He also spoke about the time they acted on stage together. “You won’t believe the number of hours we spent practising for a 45-minute drama," he said.
The conference call that went on for about three hours, including a rapid-fire round of questions thrown at Kamal, is available for streaming here.