We’ve seen Vadivelu as ‘Vakkil' Vandumurugan getting exasperated when his opponent cuts him off mid-sentence during a hearing in court: “I am speaking, no cross speaking. Sit down please!” he roars in one breath and we’re barely able to contain our laughter. But what happens when ‘Vaigai puyal’ Vadivelu plays an advocate in London? Well, we’ve seen that too…only you may not recall the “London” part too well. In the 2005 film London (that was surely shot in Chennai), Vadivelu as Advocate Vedimuthu lives and practises law in London.
But, many of our stars have indeed flown to other countries to give us some memorable comedy. One of the earliest references is actor Nagesh playing a bearer at a hotel in Singapore in MGR’s award-winning film Ulagam Sutrum Valiban (1973). But this track is brief. From Vivek teaching us the meaning of the Malay phrase “Awas Anjing” to Yogi Babu playing a hacker based out of London, here are some hilarious scenes from Tamil cinema that are set in foreign lands.
Ninaithale Inikkum (1979)
This 1979 heavy-on-music film set in Singapore will forever be remembered for its casting. Rajini and Kamal, both of whom were yet to reach their full stardom at that point, played band mates and had very interesting character arcs. Rajini’s initial, style-formative days is quite evident in this film. His performance as the guitarist of the band who is also a kleptomaniac offers a bit of comic relief in this otherwise serious film on love and friendship. The scene where he has to flip the cigarette into his mouth 10 times continuously in order to save his little finger is especially funny.
Japanil Kalyanaraman (1984)
What happens when a couple from Coimbatore win a raffle contest and fly to Japan on an all-expenses-paid trip? Comedy in this film is largely based on the naivete of a person coming to a big city from a village. Right from making fun of their table manners, to laughing at their wide-eyed amazement at the urban way of life, the film’s comedy might come across as insensitive today but Goundamani-Kovai Sarala fans are likely to disagree.
Ooru Vittu Ooru Vandhu (1990)
With long hair reaching to his shoulders, a strip of ash and red bindi dominating his forehead, Goundamani plays a Hindu priest who specialises in exorcism. Along with his assistant Senthil (in an afro) and the film’s lead pair - Ramarajan and Gouthami - he flies to Singapore from a village in Theni. To do what? To exorcise, of course. Goundamani and Senthil explore a bit of Singapore on their day-out in this 1990 film directed by Gangai Amaran. From playing the udukai in front of an unsuspecting Singaporean enjoying music on his headphones, to getting beaten up by Buddhist monks, to a ‘Suppandi’ like comedy involving a vending machine and a glass bottle, the two have a well spaced out comedy track in this film and that makes it an enjoyable watch.
Love Birds (1996)
Vadivelu’s character travels to London for the first time and finds himself alone outside Buckingham Palace. What does he do then? Wearing a long blue coat and a black T-shirt, he composes and sings a gaana song, addressed to the Queen herself. The adventure only gets funnier from here.
The film's title may not ring a bell but the warning “Awas Anjing” will surely bring a smile to your face. In Malaysia, Vivek falls for a native of the country, but his inability to understand her language only leads to more comedy. In this particular scene, Vivek’s character mistakes “Awas Anjing”, which supposedly means 'Beware of Dogs' in Malay, to be the name of the woman’s father.
Nala Damayanthi (2003)
From securing his “manjapai” (yellow bag) with a chain beneath his seat to asking for “sombu” (mug) inside the flight, the journey only gets funnier for actor Madhavan’s character in this film. With his distinct Palakkad Tamil accent, the character explores Australia with a sense of wonder as he gets acquainted to life in the southern continent.
As a professional hacker, the actor breaks down hacking to Vishal’s character in this film - “This is not like packing two idlies,” he says. Although brief, Yogi’s character brings much needed comic relief in this action drama with his witty lines.