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Comedy tracks in South Indian movies

I have often wondered about that parody called 'comedy track' - this is a concept that is unique to Indian cinema. 90% of our movies have a comedy track running parallel to the main story line; very few of the really good movies have this feature.

Most of the time, these comedy tracks are anything but funny - many of them are so annoying, you feel like slapping the so-called 'comedy stars'. Goundamani and Senthil, were a comedy duo from the 90's Tamil cinema and Goundamani used to kick the hell out of his companion, in order to get a few laughs from the galleries. I wonder which fertile brain thought this would be funny but after the 100th performance, I would have cheerfully planted one in the director's bum myself, gratis!

Sometimes, they degenerate into double-entendres and cheap one-liners. This causes a widespread squirm fest and rarely have I seen any sane, sensible person crack a smile over this. But what really gets my goat is when they try to emulate laughter by making fun of people's disabilities - like a stammer or a limp.

In the Telugu filmdom, there's this funny chap named Sunil, whom I think has the potential to become on of the current generations greats. But because our filmmakers have this strange idea that to be a comedian, you must be blessed with an IQ of that of a retarded flea or it won't just fly. So poor Sunil ends up looking like a gormless idiot, film after film after film. In one of his scenes in 'Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana', he upsets a tray of hot coffee cups on the leading man and is told he doesn't have any brains. That sums up the requirement for the comedy talent.

It wasn't always like this - we had some great comedians in the days of yore. N S Krishnan was an ole Tamil funny man, who had people rolling in the aisles. He literally cracked people up. His facial expressions, his words, everything was rip-roaring funny. There were loads more of his ilk – Manorama, ‘Cho’ Ramaswamy, ‘Kathadi’ Ramamurthy, to name a few.

Even in today's cinema, we have some comic guys - Vivek does a good job of it mostly, but the other so-called 'comedy heroes', I'd rather roast them in oil and serve them with chips. Vivek is quite different from the others, in that, he touches upon loads of current issues in his gags. Be it a gentle dig at the reigning govt, local happenings, general state of affairs - he would utilize them in his script and more often than not, bring down the house.

I have noticed that many of the really good ones doing this. American stand up Lewis Black pokes fun of everything and everybody. Though his routine is littered with swear words, it still rises more than a few laughs.

I feel that there are many, many good comedy actors out there – but either the director’s lack of trust in his abilities in carrying a movie forward without anything bawdy or the comedian’s own sense of ‘comedy’ makes things take a left towards Ick land. I sincerely hope that the quality of our funny interludes increase before it degenerates into something incomprehensibly worse.

Posted by DesiGirl 10:57 PM  

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