This post is to bid to elucidate the roots of admiration that explain the etymological roots of this blog
John Wayne said 'In all my films, I have played John Wayne. And I have done rather well, haven't I ?" On the other hand, Oscar Wilde most famously said "I put my genius into my life I put only my talent into my works". Two contrasting schools. But what happens when the artist in question is genius personified ?
If the previous paragraph sounded sophomoric, well you guessed right. It was the gist of the opening paragraph of a piece I tried writing when in college, titled : "Of Wayne, Goundamani and Wilde". The intended recipient was "The Hindu" of indhula-sandhula fame. The paper had published an article the previous week hailing a then hot comedian which was a tad too effusive in praise for my taste. So I had set about trying to right wrongs.Of course, the article with the rejection slip came back home before I was even back from the post office.
It was indeed juvenile fanboy attempt to defend one's star. But looking back even today I cannot dismiss it completely. I did the squirrel's part in making the world at large understand the under-appreciated genius (though the genius himself has objected to the metaphor : "dEi, ANiL vEra ....peruchchALi vEra da". )
Mine was not love at first sight. I am not able to say "why not". Perhaps I was too young, perhaps I just absorbed peer/elder genteel perceptions, perhaps I was overexposed to his duds etc. But I think it was largely the incredible novelty. I had never seen anybody like that before. Who else ever and since would have said "puli nakkunAlE nee seththupOyiruve" to a harmless elderly gentleman on screen.
It took Drums Mani from Singaravelan to unlock the doors to the wonderworld. But apart from personal fascination, looking back today I also feel it is the movie where he packed many many varieties of humour. Henceforth I will stop waxing eloquent and rest content with quoting the master.
My favourite joke in the film is the following one in the gym. (to be fair the timing credit is shared by GM and Vadivelu). As they enter the gym, GM and VV step on the rotary torso machine. GM is on the sitting twist and he rolls around..VV immediately asks
VV: cutting or saving ?
GM: mottai adi
First time I understood this joke - which was not the first time I saw it - I burst out laughing loud and hard and missed the rest of the scene including (hey mottai payyA !....ding) Absolutely spontaneous, almost poetic in the sense that you are left to infer the unsaid and as 'harmless' as the genteelest person could ask for.
Humour is not about illogic. It is using the force of logic to point out the absurdities in our day to existence. GM does that to maximum effect with..
sOru kEttA arisiyum sudu thaNNiyum kuduththuruvaanga, naama thaan poNgi thingaNumA
Same scene- answering a specific question literally and thus not rendering the question ridiculous
GM: dEi segappu sattai...dEi segappu sattai
Kamal: yEN yA kaththura
GM: (in a whisper) ye- se-ga-ppu sat-tai ye- se-ga-ppu sat-tai
avar aatakkArarA irundhA ennA...pAattukkaarar-A irundha enna ? mooku mEla thuNiya kattittu eppidi varalAm
GM: inge dhaan adakkam paNNiyurkkAnga
Sumitra: ah !
GM: idhu...adukki vachchirukkAnga
His pronunciation and intonation when speaking English is stuff of legend:
GM: Please..my help
GM: Tankyu !
Daring to ridicule Central Themes
Equanimus mentioned once that, in most movies he is in, GM works against the movie. In that way he is a non-supporting actor. A screenwriter's nightmare in that sense he can dissemble an emotion, character, important plot point which was carefully nurtured till he came along.
Kamal: naan oru latchiyaththOda vandhirukkEn
GM: enna kondu vandha karuvAttai...kozhambu vachchu thinnittu pOyiralAmnA
GM: idhuvallavO latchiyam !
GM: ...appidi senjA unga latchiyaththukku izhukku vandhirungaLA
Snides,quips and insults
Snide remarks and insults are GM's forte of course. And he excelled in them..
ingeyAvadhu ingeyAvadhu ingeyAvadhu ....irukkA ?
Mano: (on VV) moonjiyappAru
GM: irundhA thAnE paakkuradhukku
GM: enna kai nadungudhu....thaNNi adikkira pazhakkam undA
GM: yEN annikku nee azhalaiyAkkum ?
ThAthA: what man kiNdalA pannura
GM: Yes man
In TFI, GM was the first to push the envelope and break the taboo that certain things cannot be laughed about. Complexion, physical attributes, death nothing, absolutely nothing deterred GM. This was widely considered 'insensitive'. But most humour - even the seemingly harmless varieties - indeed have their roots in misery. So laughing at some miseries and checking oneself for others it actually both insensitive and self-deceptive. No hold barred is GM's "message" for those who seek messages in comedy.
Mano: vignAnam evvaLO vaLarndhirukku
GM: vignAnikku kooda dhaan vaLandhirukku
VV extends hands to Khushboo for handshake
GM: hey ! kai edu man, thakkALi pazhaththumEla tAr oothunA maadhiri irukku
GM: oru moongil kuchchila Ottai pOttu....mooNu maNInEramA oodhittirukkAn andha bulb-thalayan
This is a man who reacted quite virulently to baldness throughout his career when he himself started his career bald. So pause a bit with that insensitivity charge.
And lastly... Jokeless jokes
This is where GM's genius scintillates. Talented comedians do one liners but it takes a GM to do no-liners. The joke is simply nonexistent. No funny line, no banana peel slip, nothing funny in his remark. Yet you laugh. Laugh not smile. Just the way he says what he says makes humour something that is beyond defintion:
(in kALiyaNNan Gounder's house)
GM: (to Kamal) kaapi kELu... kaapi kELu
Kamal: illa...asingamA EdhO kEkkurAnga
GM: ada summA kELu
After you have finished laughing, can you really say what is it that made you laugh ?
Why is genius elusive to imitators ? Well, because it is greater than the some of the parts and thus cannot be put together by talent and effort alone.
PS: This is largely a copypaste of something I wrote a while back. Reposted here in the continuing effort to archive my contributions for posterity.