Just the way we all are fascinated with the youthful vibrance of Thalaivar at his age, I am evidently fascinated by the ability of someone to so distinctly differentiate black and white, or in other words, his ability to differentiate and judge good and bad, angels and demons, comedy and tragedy and so on!
To quote it in a more legible way, I am awfully amazed at his/her abilities to categorize two phenomenons as extremes and opposites.
In art, or to be more particular, in cinema, we are more obsessed with these extremities, we call them genres and we subconsciously build a template for a genre and judge it bad if it fails to fit in it. So-called “movie critics” irritatingly lay out a set of guidelines and narrate how a “Mystery” or a “Thriller” movie should be like. This is the reason why we invariably mock a serious actor when he plays comedy and when a comedian plays a serious role.
To clarify all the above with a suitable example, let me take the case of Vadivelu, the legend.
We all know Vadivelu as a master comedian and though not in form presently, his name or the mere recollection of his voice is enough to bring one laughter, such is the legacy this man has in the world of “Comedy”. But when I look deep into the roles he has played, it ironically and surprisingly makes me feel an acute, indescribable feeling of pity.
We all are aware of the famous Vadivelu comedy scenes from the movie, “Vaathiyaar”. Every movie of his has a proper comedy track and there will be a beautiful character arc in it. In this, his arc starts with him meeting a girl who is about to kill herself, he rescues and finds her a place to live in, he loves her with all his heart and she too seems to reciprocate his feelings by writing him a lot of “love” letters. But eventually, as always happens in movies, it is revealed that she has actually used him and wooed the hero, the macho-man Arjun.
The story of Vadivelu here is nothing short of a great tragedy on the lines of S.P. Jananathan’s Iyarkkai, where Shyam, helps Kutty Radhika, but eventually, she leaves him for Arun Vijay. The story might also sync a little with Moondram Pirai, where Kamal rescues Sri Devi and she forgets him in the end. The female leads may have different reasons to forget/leave the protagonist, but the emotion the male lead feels is more or less or at least abstractly the same!
This can easily be correlated to life too. We watch someone fall on the road, we help them gather themselves or at least intend to or at least pretend to feel some compassion and then feel upset over the people who didn’t bother to help or people who ignored the incident. We feel so depressed, then as always happens, we grab our phones, open Youtube, search “Funny Fails” and watch the same incident again. But this time, we laugh!
In the same movie, many little characters say this one line to Vadivelu, even his parents say “Nee adhuku seri pattu varamaatta (You’re unfit for this)” and he even weeps on the streets asking, “Edhuku da naan seri pattu vara maaten? (I am unfit for what?)”, this scene, where Vadivelu’s character experiences Existential Crisis, unknowing of what is happening to him is similar to the emotion Ishaan feels in Taare Zameen Par or the character of Madhavan in 3 Idiots. We felt emotional when it happened to Ishaan and Maddy and laughed when Vadivelu cried. How fascinating!
A man getting trapped with a lion in a cage is the scene. Cast Rajinikanth in it and play some strings in the background, it is a suspense scene and we bite our nails, pray that nothing happens to Thalaivar. Cast Charlie Chaplin in it, we laugh our intestines out.
A menacing gangster and he dies slipping from a step. Cast Kamal Haasan in it, and play the tabla with veena as he rolls floor by floor. It is a tragedy. Cast Robo Shankar in it, it is hilarious and we laugh as he gets hurt!
The same applies to everything, a bomb blast is something tragic any day, but when a comedian say Vadivelu or Goundamani gets burnt in an explosion, we laugh.
Besides this accustomed view of ours, there is a lot of credits to be given to the comedians who has this amazing ability to mutate a hardcore tragedy into something utterly hilarious. They were, they are and they will always be the true legends.
All this pestering made me infer something. I felt that the one golden rule to writing comedy is to just write a hard-hitting, agonizingly intense tragedy and cast a comedian in it.
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