The next wave of Tamil cinema’s funny men are equipped with PR, script writing and drama skills
The Tamil film industry is renowned for its strong comedy genre. Often reflecting the state of affairs in the state, be it in politics or in sports, comedians add value to every film. Right from Nagesh to popular duos like Goundamani and Senthil, the jokes have evolved over time. And while comedians like Vadivelu and Vivek still hold a special place in our hearts, a new batch of actors—including Santhanam and Sivakarthikeyan—are now tickling our funny bone. The last year has seen a rise in comic talent that hopes to take things a step further: from infusing comedy into negative roles to turning heroes in comic feature films. The top five emerging comedians this season, tell us about their favourite dialogues and who they want to share screen space with. Read on:
Last year’s hit song Kasu Panam benefited from Karunakaran’s funny dance moves. The Chennai-based actor, who started out with school plays, made a name for himself with roles in films like Pizza and Soodhu Kavvum. Director Nalan Kumarasamy’s junior at school, he features in most of Kumarasamy’s projects, including his short films like Oru Padam Edukanum. His latest role, in Yaamiruka Bayamey, where he played a psychotic character, is still being appreciated. More from him:
Upcoming projects: I have a bunch of movies coming up, including Jigarthanda, where I play a comic role, and Aadama Jeichomada, a crime comedy with me in the lead. I also have Mahabalipuram, Yann and Kapal on my list. The biggest of them all is Rajinikanth’s Lingaa.
Favourite line: Ippo ena seiva (what will you do now) from the movie Guru Sishyan.
Centre of attraction: I don’t want to be the hero, but in a subject that is entirely comic, like Yaamiruka Bayamey or Aadama Jeichomada, it is fine.
King of comedy: I find inspiration in M S Bhaskar and Thambi Ramaiah’s spontaneity.
Screen partner: Simhaa is my favorite screen partner. See us together in Jigarthanda.
Simhaa aka Bobby came to Chennai with dreams of becoming an actor. Several directors turned him down. But this computer graduate was not ready to give up. He joined a koothupattarai (street theatre) group to hone his skills and worked in over 25 short films—the first being Karthik Subbaraj’s Raavam with Vijay Sethupathy.
His first brush with the big screen came in Pizza where he played a boorish husband. Then came his role as Vatti Raja in Neram—where his spontaneous ‘Jhonny Jhonny Esappa’ dialogue cracked up the audience. His role in Soodhu Kavvum, as one of the kidnappers, also got his talent noticed.
Upcoming movies: In Jigarthanda, I play Siddharth’s friend. And in Urumeen, I play the lead role. Then there is Vallanukku Vallavan, where I play the hero. I also have a Malayalam movie, Beware of Dogs, in which I play a negative role.
King of comedies: Vadivelu.
Changing lanes: I like playing the antagonist, so I generally attract roles like the one I played in Soodhu Kavvum. But someday, I’d like to play a romantic hero onscreen.
Trademark: I want to change my look in every movie. I want to be known for my versatility.
Screen partner: Vijay Sethupathy, since we have a lively screen presence. He also gives me suggestions and guides me whenever I need it. I would also like to work with Kaali Venkat and more films with Karunakaran.
If he hadn’t become an actor, Sathish Muthukrishnan would have joined the army or become a cricketer. According to the Chennai-based actor, the nine-to-five grind was never for him. So fortunately, a play he scripted, directed and acted in, in the eighth grade, won him applause and gave him a goal: to enter movies. Muthukrishnan took his first steps into tinseltown by joining script writer Crazy Mohan’s troupe. Later, his work as assistant script writer for Vasool Raja MBBS caught director A L Vijay’s eye and he offered him a role in Madrasapattinam.
Upcoming projects: I’ll don a comic role in A R Murugadoss’ Kathi, starring Vijay. I also have movies like Vai Raaja Vai, Sigaram Thodu, Thamizhuku en Ondrai Azhuthavum, where I play the comedian.
King of comedy: Goundamani and Senthil
Favourite line: ‘Na oru thadava sona…’ from Rajinikanth’s Baadshah and ‘Na oru thadava mudivu panita en pecha nane keka maten’ from Pokkiri. (Once I make up my mind, i don’t listen to myself)
Changing lanes: I’ll never be a hero—it means a lot of romance and dance.
Screen partner: Siva Karthikeyan. I don’t want to share the screen with another comedian.
Trademark: I change my dialogues according to what is current.
Best known for his role in Soodhu Kavvum, his debut film where he played a kidnapper. Ramesh Thilak has since acted in Neram and Vaayai Moodi Pesavum. A mathematics graduate, he started his career in PR but always nurtured dreams of the big screen. His film career kicked off after he met Soodhu Kavvum director Nalan Kumarasamy through a common friend.
However, the comedian tells us that before his 2013 debut, he had done uncredited roles in Mappillai and Mankatha.
Upcoming projects: In the children’s film Kaaka Muttai, I play a magician and in Orange Mittai, I play an emergency medical technician. Then there are Mahabalipuram and Mellisai, but it is too early to talk about.
Favourite line: No one can forget Rajinikanth’s triple role in Moondru Mugam. I especially like him in the role of the cop where he says ‘theepettikku rendu pakkamum orasunadhan nerupu varum’ to describe how short tempered he is.
King of jokes: Yesteryear actor Danal Thangavelu. And no one can beat M R Radha.
Changing lanes: I mostly get roles of a drunkard, thief, office peon and IT guy.
Centre of attraction: I won’t stay a comedian all my life; I’ll become a hero soon. But I am comfortable with any role that comes my way.
Screen partner: I do not like sharing my screen space with another comedian. As actor Napolean once said, “If it is a wedding, I should be the groom and if it is a dead person’s house, I should be the dead body.”
It’s been a tough road to the arc lights for Chennai-based actor, Kaali Venkat. After a few years of knocking on doors and looking for breaks, he met short filmmaker, Ashok Kumar Veerapan, through a friend. His first role was in Or Kural, a short film that revolved around one character—played by him.
He was then cast in Thasaiyinai Thee Chudinum, where he played a freedom fighter, but it never saw the light of day. Meanwhile, he kept busy with short films for the television show, Nalaya Iyakunar. He got his big break in Vaayai Moodi Pesavum, where he played actor Pandiarajan’s secretary. His role as a chef in Thegidi and a photographer in Mundasupatti also won him fans.
Upcoming: In Urumeen, I play the hero’s friend—just like the one I played in Thegidi. Aaranyam is a serious movie, where I play a tribal. Then there is India Pakistan and Irudhi Chuttru, about which I can’t talk now.
Favourite line: I love the dialogues in Devar Magan. In fact, I can even recite them, especially the scene where Sivaji Ganesan scolds Kamal Haasan, saying, “Veda vedachavan dhan pazham sapdanum.”
Changing lanes: I have played everything from a serious chef to a hilarious secretary and I am also sporting a retro look in Mundasupatti. That is how I want to be recognised—as someone who changes his look in every movie.
King of comedy: K A Thangavelu and the legendary Goundamani and Senthil
Screen partner: First-timer Ramdoss, who plays Munish Kanth in Mundasupatti, is a great person to work with. I’ve known him for the past four years and I would love to work with him again.
— Nivedhitha Sathyanarayanan