A jubha and jolna bag. A small box with betel nuts by his side. He was energetic and entertaining to whoever struck up a conversation with him. This was ‘Crazy’ Mohan for us.
Personally for me, it was almost 15 years of a very close journey with Crazy Mohan both at the official and personal level. We spoke about everything – from cinema, drama, sports to politics. Many were recorded in black and white print, while a few went deep inside our hearts.
I still remember my first interaction with Mohan, whom I fondly call ‘Mohan Anna’. He was oozing with energy and enthusiasm as we began our conversation. The next hour got us together for the rest of his life. On a couple of occasions, he attended functions organised by our office and had high regard for us (News Today).
Crazy Mohan though made a name for himself in drama and cinema, never failed to give credit to those who helped him start his journey and achieve his aspirations. And he specially mentioned News Today. To put it in his own words: “I owe my thanks to the founder of News Today TRR, who encouraged me to write in one of his publications called Alibaba. It emboldened me to write more and more.”
A man who was never short of encouraging words, Mohan was the first to appreciate even a young writer. Visit sabhas during December, and one could see him sitting in the very first row watching even amateurs staging plays. Though he was like Sachin Tendulkar of drama, he never failed to acknowledge the small players, too.
Personally for me, I was one of the first people to be invited for the inaugural show of his play Chocolate Krishna. It was a packed auditorium in Mylapore and there I was sitting in the second row. And as the curtains came down with applause, Mohan, filled with child-like enthusiasm, walked up to me and asked, ‘Eppdi da irundhudhu?’ He respected our opinion and considered the ideas of every single person who watched his play.
Passion for drama was more for him than his achievements on big screen. On a personal level, he cherished every moment he was on stage. His works on the big screen were phenomenal and with Kamal Haasan by his side, almost all his movies ended up being an epic.
But more was his sojourn on stage. From Crazy Thieves in Palavakkam to Crazy Premier League, his dramas for 40 years were blockbusters that helped keep stage alive amidst the onslaught of TV, cinema and Internet.
Interestingly, a few months ago, I happened to watch a play of his. Even before the curtain could come down, he waved to me from the stage and asked what the score of the cricket match, involving India that day, was. Cinema, drama and cricket were his greatest passion.
On a few occasions, I was fortunate to sit beside him and watch the artist(e) in him come out. A matchless artiste on stage, he was also a skilled artist handling colours on canvas.
For me, Crazy Mohan is still alive through his dramas and in the form of films like Aboorva Sagodharargal, Panchathanthiram, MMKR, Kadhala Kadhala and Vasoolraja MBBS. May be, a perfect tribute on this day for him would be to bid adieu smiling, watching his comedy plays. What else can make a humour writer happy on his last journey?
His very first word whenever we discuss some new idea was ‘First Class’. I still remember that even I was enthused to try humour writing solely motivated by him. He shaped my humour through his works. His clean wit and clarity of ideas inspired not just me but a generation of youngsters.
God must be crazy. For he snatched away Crazy Mohan from us so early. But he will still live long in our hearts for his unadulterated, clean humour that gave us joy and happiness. Immortal are his works.
The mortal remains of Crazy Mohan were cremated at Besant Nagar today. Hundreds of his admirers, including Kamal Haasan, were part of his last journey from his Mandaveli house.