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"Vedi"Vel

Information One: Long back, in an episode of "Nayyandi Darbar", the host Yuhi Sethu had remarked "Heroes of a movie represent our dreams and aspirations ("abhilashaigal"). They don't represent the common man. Then who represents the commoner in us? Its the Comedian. It is him that we can relate better." [Not exactly in these words, but in spirit, it is the same]

Information Two: Couple of years back, Pradeep had shared his this experience at his office at Gurgaon. He and some of his colleagues (mostly South Indians) were discussing Tamil movies, discussing various actors and sequences from mainstream movies. His other colleagues weren't much interested, and some of them didn't even realize that such discussion was on. Then all of a sudden, a sizeable section of his team started taking part in the discussion, with all the smiles and laughter, shaking each other, and vociferously taking part in the entire talk.

What made them take part in the fun? One man - Vadivelu.


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Movies, especially their dialogues, are pretty much part of our popular culture (South India in general, Tamil Nadu in particular). More so in Tamil Nadu. And the "character" whose dialogues are most imitated and repeated in our day to day life happens to the Comedian. And therein lies the measure of success of a comedian.

And looking at the movies over the past decade and a half, the one man who has had the maximum success, and miles ahead of any other competitor would be Vadivelu. Impact of Vadivelu can be felt in every walk of our life. Starting from a 4 Year old, every body would mouth atleast one Vadivelu dialogue on a daily basis. 

You cannot escape him while watching Tamil TV Programs. Between 8 PM to 10 PM, I haven't seen any other actor who gets maximum screen time. There is no Super Star or Ulaga Nayagan. There are no Little / Young Super Stars or Chinna / Ilaya / Periya / Puratchi Thalapathy's either. There is no room for Thala, Thalavali and Thalapathys. Vadivelu simply dominates the screen.

Most of the movie buffs of the eighties to the early nineties are brought up on the staple of Goundamani and Senthil comedies. Goundamani especially, with his timing and mannerism, with Senthil as his sidekick, and his trademark jibes, would literally test the structural strength of Cinema halls. I remember watching movies just for them. Over a period of time, both of them faded away, and we were left with, primarily Vadivelu and Vivek. Others such as Ramesh Kanna, Charlie, Dhamu, Cinni Jayanth etc simply don't score above zilch in comedy scenes.

Lot of us had almost declared that there will not be anybody to replace Goundamani / Senthil combo. Little did we realize that Vivek and Vadivelu would go on to become the most saleable star in many movies. Heroes didn't count. Heroines never did in Tamil Cinema. Songs had little impact on the movie's success. Comedians did. Vivek and Vadivelu did. To such an extent, it was rumoured that a "certain" mass hero, refused to act alongside them.

And between Vadivelu and Vivek, it was Vivek, who had the early lead. But it was Vadivelu, who leads for some time now. Vivek, with his brand of "Rationalist" comedy (read often "Mokka" comedy), started irritating more than providing any comic relief, and we were left scratching our heads and ears. The biggest limitation was - He started acting "Smart". He started promoting certain "intellectual" pieces as comedy. I want none of it.

Vadivelu's comedy had that old Bhagyaraj feel. That self depreciating humour, a trade mark of Bhagyaraj, which endeared him to many, was visible in Vadivelu's scenes as well.

The characters portrayed by Vadivelu has no strengths. No intelligence. His characters are the last word for duffer. The perfect comedian. But he is the one who gets the maximum attention and claps in the cinema hall. He has never tried to portray any of the intellectual type of character. His comedy is just a comedy. To make you laugh. No hidden message whatsoever. He doesn't imitate any older generation artists.

His very presence will make you smile. There is this sense of anticipation as to what ridiculous stuff he is going to do next. His eyes and brows will add intensity to the anticipation. His innocent mannerisms and absolute duffer like behaviour will push you to the edge of your seat. At the end of the scene, you need to be a robot, to escape being on the floor. As you regain composure, his dialogues would have already been memorized for countless usages later.

He will simply make you smile with his presence. Language is never a barrier. His facial twitches and eyes and meaningless sounds will surely make an enjoyable watch, beyond all language barriers. What else can explain the fondness to Vadivelu exhibited by countless people across various regions in our country?

A recent program on his comedy, featuring French people, showed how intense their liking was for his comedy. Particularly, when a lad of around 10 to 12, imitated Vadivelu's prelude to a full fledged comical cry, that tight and expanded lip with that "aaaiinngggg" sound, I could barely control myself from laughing non-stop, admiring the impact this man has had on people.


His movies with Cheran were the ones which really put Vadivelu in the spotlight. Most notably, "Bharathi Kannama" (that Kundakka Mandakka and Cycle Scene) and "Vetri Kodi Kattu" (entire movie). These movies set the tempo for the comedy track involving Parthiban and Vadivelu. His combination with Sathyaraj also had its share of good laughter.


His finest performances as a comedian, in my view, is as "Kaipulla" in "Winner". The only saving grace of an otherwise forgettable movie. His encounters with Riaz Khan and Prashanth in that movie is part of everyday talk. That was the real turning point for Vadivelu, who was till then only the second to Vivek. And oh boy, what a comeback from Vadivelu. Every channel was beaming those scenes. Even the background music would make us laugh. Countless views doesn't reduce that anticipation. It never felt stale. It was, as they call, Timeless.

In "Giri", as "Veerabaghu" he had every one in the cinema hall on the floor. Especially that "sharing" of secret with Arjun on how he got his bakery. As "Vedivel" in "London", he was once again the single good thing about the movie. In "Manadhai Thirudi Vittai", as the earring studded, college dude, singing English songs, and talking to his "Brother Mark", classic!

"Pulikesi" was the first full length comedy / period movie in decades. It is unimaginable how anybody else could have pulled it off except Vadivelu. Credit for that must go to Simbudevan, since Vadivelu couldn't repeat his success with his next venture on similar lines (Indhira Logattil Na Azhagappan).
 
Some of his famous dialogues include -
- Adhu pona maasam. Naan solradhu indha maasam. (Arguably the most famous dialogue) 
- Vandhuntaagaya Vandhutaanga
- Sing in the rain
- Maapu, Vechitaanga Aapu
- Romba nallavan'nu sollitaanga

Though it hurts that, most of his comedy is built around him getting beaten. An unfortunate truth that people are somehow happy at somebody's miseries. Sometimes, I also get a feeling that his comedies, in a way, kind of help us look at our own limitations and defeats and failures, in a humourous way, and props us to come out of any sorrows associated with such defeats / failures.

He is unique. And he will make you laugh, more often than not. If he wants, he will also make you cry. 

If one thinks that he is just a comedian, one has to remember his portrayal as Isakki in "Thevar Magan", as Karupati in "Emmtan Magan", as Ukraputhan in "Pulikesi" and in "Porkkaalam" (can't remember the character's name). Simply mindblowing! I can say with conviction that, given a chance, he would definitely outclass each and every one of the "Heroes", with his acting abilities.

And if that isn't enough, he is pretty good at singing as well. Purists may question his singing abilities, mortals will like it. "Ettana Irundhal", a song which won him the Best Comedian Award and "Oonam Oonam", a song from Porkkaalam, are the two which requires special mention.

Vadivelu, your election misadventures wouldn't do anything to our (atleast my) liking for your comedy scenes. We all use your dialogues in our daily life. We won't pay you any royalty for that. You have our loyalty though (Royalty & Loyalty. Ah... The TR in me is in some form). You have definitely been an uniting factor to many people. You and your comedy is a definitive part of our daily discussions. 

We love you for all the stupidity you portray on screen. For we know that those stupidities aren't just yours. It is our's that we seen on screen.

In my view, you are, without any doubt, the greatest comedian of our times.

Comments

Krishna said…
Boss. spot on. "Winner" actually brought back to life the word 'sangam' and related it to commoners.

Actually one of the reasons for his election debacle was that he was not taken seriously by the public due to the roles he plays on screen.

But goundamani is more of a sarcastic humourist while vadivelu runs a totally different genre of humour. It is actually Gounder vs Vivek and Senthil vs Vadivel with their genres of humour. GOunder wins the first battle sitting (including hands) down. Senthil loses the battle with vadivelu.

But the final equation turns out to be Senthil + Gounder = Vadivelu.

That tells how effective he is in making ppl laugh.

P.S: My fav was manadhai thirudivittai. Absolute class.
G Saimukundhan said…
@ JRSD

Vadivelu beat Gounder on the post too! I have been thinking for eons together for a post on these two comedians. Decided on Vadivelu first. Sometime later I will post something on Goundamani as well. Before then, why don't you try writing one on him? My personal favourite is from Karakattakaran, and its is not the Banana joke!

Vivek has actually started trying various genres of comedies. The "Rationalist" type, "Sarcastic" and including the Vadivelu type. Among the recent ones, I liked Vivek's Padikadhavan to some extent.

On Vadivelu, let us hope for his continued presence in the cine industry. His off film adventures and nasty talk might surely put him out of business, like the way it did for Gondamani.

Cheers
Krishna said…
Sir , i actually thought of writing a gounder dialogue response for recent political quotes/events etc. for e.g when A Raja resigns i thought to put on the Newspaper headline and Gounder would respond like " Periya governer job a resign pantu poraruro ivarov! sori pudicha monna nai, anda mukku la poi picha edukka pogudu, adukku rouse a paaru". also on PM's i dont know remark on 2G. Somehow my laziness got (is getting) the better of me to post something on my blog. :D

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