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Tamil Cinema and Comedy: An Overview

Randor Guy

An outstanding features like impact on regional politics and vice versa . Another outstanding feature which has not been sadly highlighted, is its comedy which has contributed in its own way to the popularity of Tamil Cinema which way is perhaps only next to Hindi cinema in its reach around the world. It can be said without fear or favour or even exaggeration that only Tamil Cinema has been used to create social awareness through comedy and highlight the minuses, the pitfalls and others in society. Like superstition, illogical beliefs and obsession for rituals and others by one outstanding comedian, a cult figure in Tamil Nadu and also an icon of Tamil Cinema N. S. Krishnan.   Indeed he has been described by critics and crowds as ‘the Charlie Chaplin of Indian Cinema’ which perhaps said it all about his work and contribution to Indian Cinema. Sadly because he worked in the regional language Tamil, his contribution to Cinema at many levels remains comparatively unknown on the other side of the Vindhyas.   In Madras (now Chennai) during the 1980s, an International Film Festival was on and as part of it a Retrospective of Tamil film classics was arranged for the benefit of the delegates and visitors from other parts of India and abroad. One of the films screened was the 1942 Tamil movie classic Kannagi. This film is an excellent screen version of the immortal Tamil epic by the prince-turned-ascetic , Silappadhikaaram. In this movie N.S. Krishnan played a goldsmith who is beaten and compelled to play the doctor to cure a woman suffering from the mental obsession about marrying Lord Krishna! Left with no option Krishnan is taken to her even though he no doctor. An American journalist seated next to this writer sat up as the sequence began and as soon as NSK's face appeared on the screen waves of of excitement and laughter rose in the audience. The journalists told this writer that the man on screen had loads of charisma and wanted to know more about him. That was not all. He took this writer by surprise when he said that the sequence was an excellent adaptation of Moliere’s play "Doctor In Spite Of Himself! When this writer told him that Krishnan never went to school he refused to believe it! That was the genius of NSK in adapting classics from world to suit his peculiar brand of ...

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