Ellam Inba Mayam, made in 1981 (story, dialogues and lyrics: Panju Arunachalam) was in many ways a precursor to Kamal’s later movies. He dons a multi-character role, speaks different dialects and above all, explores a full-fledged light-hearted comedy for probably the first time. G. Rangarajan, the director, would go on to make another comedy Meendum Kokila with Kamal the same year and Maharasan a decade later. The setting and spirit of “Solla solla..” song (a perfect spoof of ‘disco’ songs of the period, resurrected on YouTube) was taken further in the evergreen “Ilamai itho itho…” in Sakalakala Vallavan, a year later.
The movie follows a hackneyed script but the Kamal takes the situational comedy to a level where we can forget the mindlessness of it all. In fact, the movie seems to have been made with the singular objective of showcasing Kamal’s acting talents with no regard to logic. His scenes with YG Mahendran are some of the best of the period, in terms of comic timing. Two examples: Kamal and YGM have just arrived at Madras, and are visiting the Gandhi statue at the Marina beach. As they remove their slippers and move to the statue, YGM remarks “Aasirvaadham vangippom. Yengayo avasarama poraru pola irukku..” (Let’s get his blessings. He seems to be in a hurry to go somewhere.). Later, when a prospective employer inquires about their competency, Mahendran explains, “Nalla saapiduvom“. The man then demands, “Appuram?”, to which Kamal replies without batting an eyelid, “Kai kazhuviduvom…” (the beauty will be lost in translation) – proving again what it takes to transform an ordinary script into an engaging act.
The Charlie Chaplin influence on Kamal is seen in this one too – probably for the first time on screen. The scene where Kamal and YGM dine at a local restaurant Chaplinesque to the core, especially the sequence where Kamal cannot stop his hiccups. The way he walks in the Basavappa character is again reminiscent of Chaplin’s films.
There are many elements of the village bumpkin character which Kamal seems to have retained in Kameshwaran of MMKR. The naivety, the walk, the awkwardness are all trademark Kameshwaran. Also of note is that for a typical masala movie, with villain and fights intact, there is no gore or even a single murder, much like Michael Madana Kama Rajan. Incidentally, both movies were produced by Panju Arunachalam’s P. A. Arts. Ellam Inba Mayam may not be one of Kamal’s best; but looking back, I am sure it has influenced his career path and his disposition to full-fledged comedies.
Editor’s Note: We’ll continue with ‘E’ for a fortnight as usual. But the next letter is ‘F’, which unfortunately has no movies. So, let’s catch up on what was left out from ‘A’ to ‘E’ during that time. Send in your entries!