‘Crazy’ Mohan, prominent Tamil theatre artiste and ace scriptwriter for Tamil films, suffered an acute heart attack in Chennai, and was declared dead at 2 p.m., after efforts to resuscitate him at Kauvery Hospital failed. He was 67.
Born in 1952, as Mohan Rangachari, ‘Crazy’ was a sobriquet that he acquired after the popular play Crazy Thieves in Palavakkam for which he wrote the script. The play staged by another popular theatre personality, S.Ve. Shekher, was also run on television as a series, became a runaway hit.
“We’ve known each other since 1975. We are from the same area [Mylapore] and used to meet at a shop. He was a good human being and an artist too, a fact not many knew. He would draw beautiful portraits of Gods,” recalled Mr. Shekher.
A typical Mylaporean, Mohan is quoted as saying that he loved Mandaveli and Mylapore so much that he’d feel homesick even if he ‘went to Mambalam’.
Crazy Thieves in Palavakkam set the tone for the rest of his career, as ‘Crazy’ Mohan and his brother Balaji wrote and starred in a number of plays of similar tone and tenor, that always had their audience in splits. The plays revolved essentially around wit and dialogue, even if thin plot-wise.
Mohan qualified as a mechanical engineer at the College of Engineering, Guindy, in the 1970s. But his calling was elsewhere and he started his own drama troupe Crazy Creations in 1979.
Several plays followed, as also movie scripts and his association with Kamal Hassan led to some hilarious comic sequences in Tamil films including Apoorva Sagodharargal, Sathi Leelavathi, Magalir Mattum, Kadhala Kadhala and Vasool Raja MBBS.
Kamal Haasan and Oorvasi gave heft to his script with their performances in Michael Madana Kama Rajan. The dialogues with Palghat Brahmin accent, “Yenna Kattindrukkom”, “Saambarna Mani Iyer Saambarthan. Besh Besh romba nannaa irukku” continue to make people laugh.
In his condolence message Mr. Kamal Haasan said the title ‘Crazy’ would not suit him, since he is a Nagaisuvai Gnani (comedic genius).
“The important trait of Mohan was his childlike heart and I envy it. Not everyone is possessed with such a trait. He kept to a minimum his talents so that he could cater to the popular taste of the audience,” he said.
Mr. Kamal Haasan, who was with Mohan during his final hours, said he would shower affection on him by generously declaring that he could be addressed as Mohanhasan (in the vein of Kamal Haasan’s brothers, Charuhasan and Chandrahasan).
Well-known comedy scriptwriter Chithralaya Gopu recalled how Mohan called on him in the greenroom and made a vow that he would never make people laugh at someone’s expense.
“Plays staged by him proved that one could be funny and kind and make people laugh without hurting others,” he said.
Mohan also carefully avoided dialogues with “double entendre” quite common in Tamil films especially in comedy tracks. “He really changed how a comical character speaks, by adding a great deal of intelligence to the dialogues. He made it classy,” said actor Rohini, one of the heroines of the film Magalir Mattum.
Television serial producer H. Ramakrishnan, who produced Here is Crazy, a popular serial on Doordarshan, said, “the troupe were a very young and happy team, always joking and we instantly jelled”.
“Mohan would improvise dialogues and even scenes on the set,” said Mr Ramakrishnan.