Monday, April 02, 2007

Kaasedhaan Kadavuladaa

Looking back at movies from the 60s and 70s, we may feel that the actors are overacting, the sentiments are artificial, the fights are unrealistic and the dancing is old-fashioned. But the good comedy scenes make us laugh just as hard as they did back in those times. Which is why I think that when it comes to movies, comedies age the least compared to other genres. Kaasedhaan Kadavuladaa was screened Saturday afternoon on Sun TV and I think I would've enjoyed the movie just as much as the viewer who saw it in the theater when it was first released.

Vulgarity and violence have increasingly become a part of comedy these days. Double entendres abound in the comedy tracks and name-calling, slaps and kicks are routinely employed to make us laugh. In short, comedy has become kinda mean-spirited in that somebody has to be made fun of or somebody has to endure physical pain, for us to laugh. The best part of Kaasedhaan Kadavuladaa is that it takes us back to a time when comedy meant good, clean fun.

Manorama plays Lakshmi, a high-society lady who rules her household with an iron hand. Her husband 'Venniraadai' Moorthy(she is his second wife) is a doormat and this irritates Muthuraman, Moorthy's son with his first wife, who wants some money to help his sister. Muthuraman and his cousin Srikanth, who has money problems of his own, hatch a plan to steal Manorama's money. They ask their friend, teastall owner 'Thengai' Srinivasan, to pose as a holy man to find out where Manorama hides her money. Meanwhile, Lakshmi joins the house as Manorama's personal secretary and due to some exchanged letters, everyone in the house thinks she is mad!

Kaasedhaan Kadavuladaa employs almost all known staples of comedy movies and throws them together to generate a hilarious film. Using mistaken identities, scams and disguises, it creates a chaotic film with very few dull moments. But inspite of all the chaos, it is never confusing. It has a simple, straightforward screenplay populated by a bunch of very interesting characters.

The film's key track is ofcourse 'Thengai' Srinivasan masquerading as a holy man in Manorama's house. Thengai's mistakes(most of them alluding to his real profession as a teastall owner) and the subsequent cover-ups by Muthuraman and Srikanth are consistently funny. The high point of this segment is the Jambulingame Jadadhara... song sequence. Probably one of the funniest songs ever, the funny lyrics, the subsequent corrections and the actions and expressions of the trio of Thengai, Muthuraman and Srikanth, make the entire song a laugh riot.

In probably his best role(Thillu Mullu would come a close second), Thengai is hilarious as the saamiyaar-in-disguise. The nonsensical phrases he utters as prayers never fail to make us laugh and it is solely because of his performance and distinctive dialog delivery that the role never becomes tiring. Muthuraman reveals his own comic aptitude initially but can't help but play second fiddle to Thengai after he puts on the garb of the holy man. 'Venniraadai' Moorthy is perfect as the hen-pecked husband and his very expressive face makes us laugh easily. Surulirajan doesn't have a big role but he does get to utter what is probably his most famous answer ("Ombodhu!", when he is asked "Ettukkulla oru number sollunga..." ). Lakshmi doesn't particularly stand out. Manorama has no problems playing the rich, almost dictatorial woman(she played almost the same role many years later in Nadigan).

28 Comments:

At 11:39 PM, Blogger Zero said...

Nice review, Balaji.

Chitralaya Gopu was the one who originally brought Wodehouse to Tamil stage and cinema with such a great flourish and immense success.

He influenced a host of playwrights of the next generation, most notably Crazy Mohan.

 
At 12:03 AM, Anonymous Cacaphonix said...

sootchuma prasathamaha, single-lopiyakaaranamasthaha kind of thengai lexican were uttered like anything by thengai in his bhadrinath swamigaL avatar (in kasEthaan kadavuLada).

oru siru kanpeesan. Manorama plays as cast lakshmi and Lakshmi plays as cast Rama. It wasn't clear in your post but since I too saw the movie on sat I could clear this kanpeesan off.

manglOm manglOm :)

 
At 5:48 AM, Blogger S.Ganesh Kumar said...

Regarding 60s and 70s films,in any decade more than 50% of movies made will be regular commercial movies,which are made suiting to that time.Hence,M.G.R action movies' fights look funny,as he just pulls his hands and the villain shouts 'ooh aah' as if he's injured badly.
But,the remarkable movies are timeless because they are made to be remembered for a long time.(Like Sankarabharanam,16Vayathinile,Salangai Oli) and often,they are not meant for just pleasing the crowds,they have great art value.
In the case of 'masala movies'(Either sentimental or action),people's tastes change by time and technology too changes rapidly.(Then fists,now AK47s etc.)Hence,those movies become tasteless now.
Hence I disagree that all 60s and 70s movies have actors who seem to overact.60% maybe.But there is the good 40% which are great.
Regarding Kasedhaan Kaduvuladha,it was a nice comedy film,which I've last wathed 5 years ago.It surely belongs to the '40%' league.(How about Server Sundaram?)

 
At 6:40 AM, Blogger Munimma said...

I caught a couple of scenes in between my older's bday party and a dance program that we went to watch. I did watch it long back. I am sure suntv will regurgitate it soon enough.
In the same vein, some other movies were also equally enjoyable. Nawab narkali and arivali (thangavelu+wife comedy with switch vs sojji) come to mind.

So, you a wodehouse fan now? :-)

 
At 6:40 AM, Blogger VThinkTank said...

This is one comedy classic specially for Thengai Srinivasan, the way he speaks Madaras Tamil Lingo is incomparable. Also did you guys catch another of his mantras. In one of the scenes when he walks into while others are waiting for him, you can hear him list out the real names of the actors as a mantra it goes, Srikanth Muthuraman Lakshmi Manorama Suruli Suruli Suruli.... I am sure it was Thengai's improvisation in that scene, It could also be Chitralaya's Gopus's thought. Thengai was always amazing when he lets out his way uttering dialogues and his specials like Silukku Sippan Sippaan.... etc.

A good piece by Balaji, even cacophonix's message up hear was hilarious...

MangaLOM MangLOM Aday Aday....

 
At 10:21 AM, Anonymous ram said...

I've never seen this movie, actually...I mean, I've watched the hilarious "Jambulingamey" song but when I downloaded the movie from www.loosu.com I realized that they didnt have the full movie...so, chucked it...seekram paakanum...
yes, thengai srinivasan was a very talented comedian...sometimes he played a silly villain (i distinctly remember a rajni movie where his character's name was Robert Montero!!!!) but it was comedy where his talents lay...even his one-scene walk-on in Varumaiyin Niram Sivappu was memorable...of course, to me, he'll always remain the immortal Sri Rama Chandra Murthy!

 
At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

balaji, neenga "then mazhai" paathirukeengala.. it has gemini, k.r vijaya, nagesh and cho... its absolutely hilarious.. the plot is serious but cho and nagesh bring the house down.. specially the climax with the paper scene...
one more example of the awesome humor in older movies...

-mathangi

 
At 2:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I will go with his role in Thillu mullu. The best thing about Thillu Mullu was he didnt use any of his Madras bhasai or other stuffs. He was actually the wall on which all the characters in the movie bounced off. I would rank Kasedan as his best movie for madras Bhashai.

Compared to other Indian languages(I am going to club Telugu and Tamil together, too much collabration that there is not much of a difference, except for some main artists.) we always had a variety of comedians who could do character roles as well. They also covered all types as well the slap stick and the word play.

-KP

 
At 4:50 PM, Anonymous raj said...

zero, bang on. I thought I will introduce the Wodehouse motif but you beat me to it. Kasse Dhaan is a cue ode to PGW, with the flower-pot sequence a direct and subtle nod to leave it to Psmith. Beauty is despite the direct adaptation of the hiding-the-booty-in-flowerpot sequence, you can not term it a copy.
Even the harridan seceretary is a nod to Baxter, however being the heroine has to be a loved rather than ridiculed figure that Rupert was. But they retained the sequence where everyone is convinced the seceratary is loony though:-).
Hats off to the director and the screenwriter - if only they had foudn a way to incorporate the "say if with flower pots" sequence, it would have been cherry on the cake.

 
At 7:49 PM, Anonymous sriram said...

BB, I would rate it as the best comedy movie ever made in Tamil.
Have heard that the stage play was more hilarious than the movie.

 
At 8:49 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

zero/munimma/raj, quite ashamed to say that i've never read wodehouse :( heard of his characters like jeeves but never read even 1 book. i think i tried one but i was probably a bit too young to understand it and never went back.

zero, did gopu direct any other movies?

cacaphonix, thanx for clearing that up :)

ganesh, i didnt mean to say that all movies had actors who seemed to overact. just that our perception of acting has changed and we expect more natural acting these days. so some of the praised performances from the past look like overacting to us today. thats all i wanted to convey...

i absolutely love 'server sundaram' also. but not sure it can be called a full-length comedy like KK...

munimma, don't think i've seen either of those movies u mentioned...

vthinktank, nope i didn't notice that... but an interesting piece of trivia for sure :)

ram, i'd say its a must-watch...

mathangi, no i don't think i've seen it... don't remember the climax u mention...

KP, good point. in TM, he was funny because he played it straight while here he clearly went for laughs...

sriram, definitely one of the best. would have to think a little bit more to pick a best.

didn't know it was based on a stage play.

 
At 9:42 PM, Anonymous sriram said...

Even Sridhar's Kadhalikka neramillai was written by chitralaya gopu.

 
At 11:01 PM, Blogger Sundar Narayanan said...

balaji, me give you PGW, next time we meet!

the Kamal Prabhudeva movie with a pOli saamiyaar and the confusion of which heroine goes with which hero always reminded me more of the PGW originals. But I never connected Kaasedhan.. my bad.

:)

you will love PGW if you like similies and metaphors. he is just toooooo much!

 
At 1:43 AM, Blogger Zero said...

Balaji,
Chitralaya Gopu, apart from making Kaase Dhaan Kadavulada (and a few other films) worked with Sridhar in most of his comedies. He wrote Ooty Varai Uravu, Kaadhalikka Neramillai, Galatta Kalyanam, Veettukku Veedu etc. An article about him in The Hindu.

Post-70s, he did make some films, like Vasanthi (caught a glimpse of this film recently in K TV) and a few Pandiyarajan starrers, which were unmemorable to say the least.

Raj,
The director and the screenwriter are the same -- Chitralaya Gopu. :)

 
At 10:06 AM, Anonymous ram said...

after reading the interview with script writer gopu (thanks zero, for the link) I was thinking of how sometimes (not talking abt gopu) the writers and directors who give us so much pleasure through their films either die in penury or fade away into oblivion...I always feel really bad when I read of people like the great comedian V.K. Ramaswamy losing all his wealth when he produced movies in the twilight of his life...or comedian Chandrababu losing his life to booze...I mean, I wonder why the Nadigar Sangam cant setup a pension kinda scheme for actors the way BCCI's done for its cricketers...

 
At 12:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thengai Sreenivasan was probably the single-most unheralded comedian of his time..basically overshadowed by the comic prowess of Nagesh, Surulirajan, Cho etc, but he was the one constant that was central to all comedy tracks...either as the stern father, fumbling robber or as in the point here, a typical street-madrasi; he was pivotal in drawing the laughs...remember the "muth..th..thippotchu"...an absolute riot!!

 
At 9:36 AM, Anonymous raj said...

zero, ogay. I am surprised I didnt know more about the man, considering the impressive discography - veettkku veedu, Galattak Kalyanam, Ooty Varai Uravu are all my second-tier best Humour movies in tamil, secondonly to the first tier comprising the incomparable Kadahalikka Neramilai, MMKR and Kaase Dhaan.
And you say this man was responsible for Kadhalikka neramillai, too. What a massive unheralded talent!

 
At 9:58 AM, Blogger Zero said...

Absolutely, Raj. That's exactly why I mentioned only those films, which is virtually the complete A-list of comedies of yesteryear Tamil cinema!

And, the Wodehouse angle is as pronounced in the larger context too - there's the recurrent twinning of protagonists in them, there's quite a bit of Freddie in Nagesh of Kadhalikka Neramillai! And, so on.

 
At 7:29 PM, Anonymous raj said...

And Manorama in KDK is Lady Constance herself, the hen-pecked brother Lord Emsworth morphs into hen-pecked husband VAM. I should have paid closer attention to these movies - next time I watch, I am looking out for more clues. Anyone who can adapt PGW so brilliantly with absolutely delightful local touches is a genius.

 
At 1:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi ,

Excellent write up and re kindled my memories.i too saw this movie on SUN tv fully for the first time thought i ve seen it in bits and pieces.this was the movie i was desparately wanted to see.the other comedy movies during that period are "Then Mazhai","Bommalattam","Then Kinnam",
"Vaanaga PArtner Vaanga" etc. i luv all those old classic comedies

 
At 7:48 AM, Blogger SamAruna said...

Hi,

I am proud to read about Chitralaya Gopu. I am his son's classmate and feel even more proud to say here that his third son Sriram now write Comedy Drama which are dramatised by YG Mahendra. Two dramas written by Chitralaya Sriram are superhits - Kadhalikka Neram Hundu & Thantramuki. You get DVDs of these in Music World & Landmark in Chennai. In my young age I used to go to their house to watch Cricket in Tele.

Speaking about Thengai, "Follow-me" is a famous punch dialogue of his. His rip roaring dialogues can be recounted from Tick Tick Tick & Priya (un passport en kaila.

 
At 4:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr.Thengai Srinivasan is a true legend and was a great looker too he was one of the very few to act all Chraters, he has acted as hero in films like porter ponnuswamy, thnga rangan,kaliuga kannan etc., villan,chrater
comdedian a true versatile..hats off to him.. love him!

 
At 10:52 PM, Anonymous sharan srinivas said...

Hi,
My father is a friend of Gopu... wondering if someone could give me a contact information of Gopu?

 
At 11:44 PM, Blogger Sam said...

Sharan Srinivas,

Please write to me at samaruna at gmail dot com for Gopu's contact details.

 
At 10:13 PM, Anonymous sharan srinivas said...

Sam,

I've emailed you

Sharan Srinivas

 
At 5:27 AM, Anonymous kannan said...

ya chitralaya gopu is a true legend!!
i know him personally and i had chance to visit his house once...

a very simple man who wears 'kadhar jibba'....

he talked with the same humor touch that we could see in his movies..
i was very happy talking to him and his son "kaalachakkaram narasimha" who is also extremely talented and is close to me...
he is the news editor in 'the hindu'.

he has written tv serials like "krishna cottage", "vidhya"..
novels like kaalachakkaram and rangaraatinam.....

and he is doing script for actress gautami's return to tv.....the serial "abirami:....

now i am close to the family and gopu sir and his son "kaalachakkaram narasimhan" sir treat me as a family member

 
At 5:58 AM, Anonymous veena said...

I saw Kalachakram Narasimha's interview in Jaya tv Ner Mugam conducted by Rabi Bernaud..He gave rare information on Tamil culture & traditions. I believe he is a jounalist,novelist,college, lecturer,script writer.He spoke humourously like his father Gopu.
Looks like homour is in their genes.

 
At 9:06 PM, Anonymous gokul said...

sharan, you said your father is a friend of gopu......
who is your father?...
he is also in cinema field?

 

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