Behind every great film, there is a team of talented and dedicated artistes who work together tirelessly. In particular, when an actor and screenwriter develop a good rapport on and off screen, it becomes mutually rewarding. This was the case with Crazy Mohan and Kamal Haasan and here are our favourite collaborations of the duo.
The first teaser of Aanand L Rai directorial Zero made everyone compare Shah Rukh Khan’s Bauua Singh with Kamal Haasan’s portrayal of a vertically-challenged character in Apoorva Sagodharargal. Directed by Singeetham Srinivasa Rao, Apoorva Sagodharargal, later dubbed in Hindi as Appu Raja, was the highest grossing Tamil film of all time until the release of Baashha in 1995. This film was famous for many iconic dialogues like, “Saar, neenga engeyo poiteenga, saar”. Kamal was the first Indian actor to have played a dwarf and it’s unbelievable how the film was made without CGI.
Writer-columnist Sujatha Narayanan says she prefers Apoorva Sagodharargal any day. “Mohan came out in flying colours in his very first film with Kamal Haasan along with Singeetam sir. The trio was and still remain an unbeatable combination. Writing Apoorva Sagodharargal was tough as it is not yet another comedy outing, but had ace comedian Nagesh playing a villain. In addition, they had to write tracks separately for two heroes,” she adds.
Micheal Madhana Kama Rajan (MMKR)
Directed by Singeetham Srinivasa Rao again, the film saw Kamal Haasan playing quadruple roles. “What do you mean?” “I mean what I mean, but they can’t be so mean.” “Enna ezhavu, ellarum meen meenungara?” Who can forget these iconic lines? What’s great about the film is the brilliant screenplay. But writer-producer Dhananjayan points out MMKR was a dud at the box-office. He says, “It attained cult status later. Back then, the audience felt the climax portions were a tad too long for a normal film.”
The remake of American film 9 to 5, Magalir Mattum has a story by Kamal Haasan, who also produced it, and the screenplay was written by Crazy Mohan. This Singeetam Srinivasa Rao-directorial addressed the issue of workplace sexual harassment in 1994. The comic caper was ahead of its time and featured Rohini, Revathy and Urvashi in important roles.
Directed by Balu Mahendra, the film had dialogues by Crazy Mohan. In many interviews, Kovai Sarala had spoken how the makers were reluctant to sign her in the role of Kamal Haasan’s wife Palani. Also, she had revealed how Ulaganayagan was stubborn about getting her on board. Sathi Leelavathi was later remade in Hindi by David Dhawan as Biwi No 1, starring Salman Khan and Anil Kapoor in pivotal roles. Eventually, it was adapted in Kannada by Ramesh Aravind as Rama Shama Bhama in 2005.
Inspired by Robin Williams’ Mrs Doubtfire, the film, directed by KS Ravikumar, received an overwhelming response at the box office as well from critics. It was remade in Hindi as Chachi 420 and released the following year. Scenes involving Shanmugi maami (Kamal Haasan) and Nasser are a delight to watch.
This Ravikumar directorial completed 175 days across theaters in South India, and it was Kamal Haasan who picked the title, Thenali. The film was released in Telugu under the production of singer SP Balasubrahmanyam. Kamal Haasan beautifully speaks the Sri Lankan Tamil in this film.
The camaraderie between the actors is a huge plus of this film that revolves around friendship. A sequel to Panchathanthiram was also planned, which never took off. The film, inspired by 1998 American film Very Bad Things, opened to positive reviews. 2013 Punjabi film Lucky Di Unlucky Story was also inspired by this KS Ravikumar directorial.
Vasool Raja MBBS
Vasool Raja MBBS is the Tamil remake of Munnabhai M.B.B.S and marked the collaboration of Kamal Haasan and Prabhu after Vettri Vizha. Apparently, director Saran was planning to sign on director K Balachandar to play Kamal Haasan’s father. Also, the team had finalised Girish Karnad for the role before replacing him with Nagesh eventually. Vasool Raja lived up to its name and minted money at the box office.
Pammal K Samandham
2009 Hindi film Kambakkht Ishq was based on this film, directed by Moulee, a long-term associate of Kamal Haasan. The real highpoint is Crazy Mohan’s dialogues and some of his one-liners can leave you laughing so hard that you miss the next one.