The trade is very happy with the success of Comali. Infact it turned out to be one the highest grosser for actor "Jayam" Ravi and still running in several screens (Both A and B centres) successfully. It was marketed as a comedy film but ended up as a wholesome entertainer and attracted family audience too. From the comments made by the makers and Jayam Ravi himself, it’s evident that they dint predict the film to be so successful. So what was it which made the film click ?
Comali had a unique theme – the very concept of a man losing his memory for 15 years and waking up to the world of today had inherent comedy in it. While the director mixed it up with lot of other commercial aspects (including unwanted obscene scenes and dialogues), the movie was still a huge success. We have seen films where physical or mental dis-orders were used only in action or tragic love stories so far. Using it in a comedy situation was new and gave lot of scope for comedy.
The last film which did that successfully was “Naduvula Koncham Pakkatha Kaanum” which was a sleeper hit. Recently released Sixer is another one where the hero (played by Vaibhav) has night blindness – the theme was inspired from an old Goundamani comedy track.We also have another film in the making Taana (incidentally this also has Viabhav in the lead), where the hero is having a unique disorder – his voice turns feminine, when he gets angry. Will these films bring the next trend in comedy films? We have to wait and watch.
The two other films which impressed me recently was Monster and Gurkha. Monster also had a unique subject which was new to Kollywood. The film depended largely on CG work which was good and with exceptional performance by SJ Suryah, it turned out to be a decent success. Gurkha also explored a new theme – a spoof on Die-hard, where Yogi Babu replaced Bruce Willis. The very concept was new and the director ensured the script had enough interesting scenes to evoke laughter. The spoof genre infact was started with Imsai Arasan 23am Pulikesi (directed by Chimbudevan) and Tamil Padam (directed by CS Amudhan), which was a huge success.
The trend of black comedy and horror comedy started with Venkat Prabhu’s cult classic “Saroja”. Yes, Chennai 600028 also had good comedy but it was more connected to sports and relationship. This was followed with several films in the horror comedy genre, some laced with adult humour too. The other option was to develop a script based on treasure hunt with a bunch of jokers. Even the recently released “Jackpot” falls under the same genre. It was very evident that the directors were running out of ideas.
There has been a big shortage of unique themes for comedy genre. Where are those genuine full-time comedy films which we used to see earlier? When was the last time you saw a complete comedy film in Tamil – something like Panchathanthiram or Ullathai Allitha… hardly few right? If one film clicks, there are dozens made in the same theme again and again, most of them flop. For eg: Sundar C’s Ullathai Alitha was a trendsetter. A template which was mastered by Sundar C and used several times by the director himself, without much success.
We also have an issue with our leading superstars, who does not want to attempt comedy as a genre, after a point in their career (Kamal Hassan being an exception).I doubt if most of them can pull it off successfully too. It was only Kamal who consistently tried full -fledged comedy in his films. “Panchathanthiram” was a trendsetter - a group of friends getting stuck with one mistake leading to other. This was again followed with several such films which never clicked. Kamal Hassan’ s contribution to comedy genre in Tamil is huge – films like Michael Madana Kamarajan, Magalir Mattum, Avvai Shanmugi, Sathileelavathi or even Pammak K Samandham were way ahead than any other comedy film across industries. Yes, Crazy Mohan played a big part in this success. With the sad demise of Crazy Mohan, there is a huge vacuum to be filled up in the comedy space.
Comedy is a difficult subject and we need directors who are inclined to comedy and who can make you laugh out of every scene and shot. We have several such talented directors in Malayalam like Priyadarshan and Siddique who can bring comedy out of any scene, supported well by the actors. However, in Tamil, we unfortunately don’t have directors who are strong in comedy genre. Sundar C was an exception. But he has been running out of stories and sticking to the same formula oflate. The other promising option was M Rajesh who gave us hits like Boss Engira Baskaran and OKOK. But, you can’t make the same movie with different actors every time, can you? His recent films were not worth releasing at all. CS Amudhan and Chimbudevan are great talents, however we don’t see much films from their end.
Comedy as genre took a back-seat naturally and was just added to the masala format through either a separate track or as a “side-kick” to the hero. But then the famous side-kicks had other plans. The lack of complete comedy films was a big opportunity for the comedians to explore. Vadivelu and Santhanam took up the opportunity, followed by Yogi Babu recently. Sivakarthikeyan was promising as a comedian, but history had other plans for him. As he moved to hero subjects, comedy again took a back-seat and he also used side-kicks for comedy in his own films. Santhanam is one actor who has not gone for any side-kicks but depended largely on his Lollu-Sabha gang. Unfortunately, none of his movies had a strong storyline or script, it only depended on his dialogues which was a big let-down.
With the success of movies like Comali, Gurkha and Monster, it seems good times are ahead. I hope this encourages other directors and big heroes to come forward and make full-fledged comedy films with unique themes. Imagine Ajith, Vikram or Vijay in a full-fledged comedy film – will it not be something unique in itself?
Here is the list of complete comedy films which created a trend in Tamil Cinema in last 25 years !! Yes, hardly few.
Imsai Arasan 23am Pulikesi
Boss Engira Baskaran
Saroja / Soothu Kavvum