April 26, 2010

Malayalees love their Pavanaayi

Dasan and Vijayan, Pavanaazhi, Dick-ammayi (a christening done before the word got its 'below the belt' meaning), Still Photographer Nischal, House Owner Gopalakrishna Panicker, Damodar-ji, Bheemsingh ka Beta Ram Singh....
Kilometres and kilometres from Washington DC to.., Angane Pavanayi Shavamaayi..Enthokke aayirunnu..Malappuram Kathi..Olakkede Mood, Welcome to Ooty..Nice to Meet you, Kochinte peru Malaa Malaa, Ethra manoharam aaya aajarangal....
(PS: The true essence and humour is lost in translation, I know)

If you are a Malayalee and if you love Malayalam films, then none of these characters or dialogues would need introduction or explanation. More than two generations have laughed and laughed and continue to laugh at these characters and their dialogues. I may be a little partial to actor Mohanlal in this selection, but not many can argue that he's been part of some of the most entertainingly hilarious films in Malayalam. This post isn't about Mohanlal or his expertise at humour. It's about films, characters, dialogues that have left Malayalees literally rolling in laughter (at least it's happened many a times in our family, my mom's even had an asthma attack after all the uncontrollable laughing), and still has all of us breaking into an equally enjoyable laugh every time we see it, hear it or even think about it. In fact, I find I have a smile on my face while writing this.
Almost all Malayalee (not in a mood to to use the Mallu tag) homes mention at least one of these characters or dialogues in their every day routine. 'Ellathinum athintethaaya samayum undu Dasaa...', a dialogue that pops into many discussions in many Malayalee families, even today. Movies like Kilukkam, Chithram, Gandhinagar 2nd street, Naadodikattu, Aram+Aram=Kinnaram (pardon the all-Mohanlal list, it's only a coincidence) have us laughing even before the characters mouth their dialogues.
My aunt who has a Gujarati son-in-law has only one woe. "He's a lovely person, very intelligent and well-behaved. But what to do, we cannot share our Mohanlal-Jagathy jokes with him!"
Hats off to a generation of writers, directors, actors who conceived and executed such characters/dialogues with ease and a certain brilliance too. To have people laugh at the same joke over and over and over again is no short of brilliance. Where are those movies? Where are those refreshingly humorous dialogues? Where are those cutely cunning characters? Where are those innocently mischievous movies?
I miss them. I miss them even more after a disaster of a film I saw yesterday. Funny doesn't mean a self-proclaimed superstar dressed in a outrageous outfit (not befitting his 40-plus age) mouthing 'trying-to-be-funny' dialogues with a stupid expression and a thumping loud background. The humour of the 80s and early 90s was subtle, situational and very emotional. It was not loud, forced or accessorised.
I miss them. I miss them even more when I think that my son and the children today may not be fortunate to enjoy simple, sensitive humour. Not to say all attempts are a disaster...some efforts can be lauded..but not quite there though.
My Malayalee friends...do write about your favourite Dasans & Vijayans and your most enjoyable dialogues.

(PS: This post was inspired by an old school mate...thanks Rijo)


Journomuse said...

Can't remember which film it is from, but there's a dialogue which I think was Indrans or Jagathy..'Ellam valare pettananyirunnu" that repeats for anything and everything in the movie..Ma and I use it to laugh at a lot of things...Then there is Vellanakalude Naadu...remember that Pappu dialogue...Thazhe daa thamaressery chooooram...hehehe, im so bad at recounting exact lines..but then he comes up with 'Ippo sheriyakki tharam' while trying to repair the roadroller...Im laughing so hard as I write this...:)

SunnySmile said...

I am a big Mohanlal fan, the 80s hero and the not the bloated larger than life figure he has become today. And you know what, Malayalam cinema needs a serious resuscitation. So few good stories, and even less food cinema. And they talk about not showing other language movies at theatres in Kerala. As if that is going to solve the problem!
Yes, I too miss the good old days. I also miss the good old mimicry days, like Jayaram's early performances with Kalabhavan. Such great jokes, and perfect timing. My sister and I can re-enact the entire first Gulf tour performance by Jayaram and Kalabhavan. And often, only we get the joke ('cos of our tendency to start at our favourite parts, which is often in the middle!). Our obsession with doing this and laughing madly at the end of our own sequences can also get a tad embarrassing for the rest of the family, especially the latest additions like Abhi and Ditu, who are clueless about the whole thing. Nevertheless, like good Malayalees, they join in the general mirth too!

K J Jacob said...

aarkkum enthum parayam. pakshe polandinekkurichu oraksharam mindaruthu.

Sam said...

Etha aa aksharam?

K J Jacob said...

ma..ma..ma...allenkil athuvenda...mathangathalaya

Sree said...

@Deeps: How could I forget Pappu and his Thaamrassery Churammm and the loud 'Muthashiyeeee ennoru vili'.
@Sumi: Oh yes the mimicry shows and the cassettes of KAlabhavan Dubai shows. I had a huge collection of those. Still remember the ads that came in-between. Some perfume ad with a guy riding a white horse: 'Olichu vechalum olichirikkilla...rooh..al-roooh'.
@Jac, Sam: Am still laughing..so many masterpieces. 'Oru veragu kolliyum kadichu pidichirunnal sayippu aavilla'. Am loving this.

reshma said...

Hello Madam - welcome to ootty, nice to meet you! God - hilarious they are. I think life of a malayalee is incomplete without those lines. "How many kilometers from washington DC to miami beach?" would serve as the question that a "mele main khoya hua malayali" would ask his brotheren! And i also love this dialogue (from talavattom I think):
jagathy: "illengil saarinte peru saarinte pattikkitto"
Soman: "hmmmm?"
jagathy: "alla ente pattikkitto"
When we were talking abt marrying people from other states this was my concern "How can a Mal marry someone with whom he/she cannot share these jokes?"

Sree said...

@Resh: Thalavattom..I love Jagathy in it. In the same scene, he starts off with a "Thaan aruvaa..thanne pathu parayanam ennu vijarichittu kore naalayi.." Just love his body language and the modulations. So hilarious.
You gotta be a Malayalee to enjoy these. It's so hard to translate these masterpieces, the whole humour gets lost. Credit to our actors too who do a great job at comedy. Jagathy has all this shivers, vibrations, squeaks thrown in for extra punch..love them.

Meenu said...

Wonderful post Sreeja!
Reminds me of the summer vacations I used to spend at your home back in the early 90s. Remember how we would eagerly wait for the guy from the video shop? He would show up at your doorstep with his 'mobile VCD library' and recommend movies for us to rent.
And even if one of those movies wasnt as funny as he claimed,he would have an earful from us.
Thanks for this wonderful walk down memory lane.

Sree said...

@Big Sis:Thanx. Oh I had almost forgotten about the Cassetter guy, think he was called Rajesh. How we ragged him if the film turned out to be a bore. He was quite a flirty flirty too.
It's things like these that make life special. It's moments like these that we miss today in the busy world. I find myself often transported to the summer hols time, both here and in B'lore. What fun.. shopping, friends, fun.

Jai said...

Hey Sree

Lovely stuff this - my fav one is fm a Jagathy- Mala scene (latter, i aint sure)

On spotting Jagathy, who is a kalla swami supposedly away on a pilgrimage, the devotee is surprised

Then Mala quips

Athu swamiyude bhoutheeka shareerama - athmavu angu kashiyila !

Sree said...

@Jai: I can imagine the tone and expression with which that dialogue is delivered. There's this other movie where Indrans is trying to get off a hugely packed bus. Every time he tries to get down, there's a rush of passengers climbing into the bus. Finally with a totally sympathetic look, he says: "Chetta, ningalkku keraan ini ethra bus unde, enikku irangaan ee oru bus alle ollu."
I just love that scene. The helpless tone in which he says it and the almost pleading expression laced with humour is brilliant.

Abhi said...

Just stumbled upon this blog from Google. Nice write-up. Those comedies from the Golden Age of Malayalam Cinema will always remain classics and close to heart. Want to add Ramji Rao Speaking. I think I remain partial to Mohanlal because of those movies and sometimes you can see a slight glimmer of that humour in these failed modern rehashes. I just feel the newer generation will miss out on some of the best comedies which can't be found in modern Mallu, Hindi or even English cinema.

Sree said...

@Abhi: Glad the post brought back memories of good humour and days of clean, genuine entertainment. You're right...the mood, spirit and fun of these movies is unique to Malayalam alone.
How can we forget Ramji Rao Speaking...the Akbar chakravarthy costume...hilarious. At times I find myself sitting alone, recalling these dialogues and laughing to myself.