Madras Ba(a)shai in Thamizh cinema
While channel surfing last Sunday evening, I chanced upon an interesting and humorous yesteryear movie – “Bommalaattam”, that had a line-up of stars like Jai(shankar), Nagesh, Cho, Major Sundarrajan, V.S.Raghavan, Jayalalitha, Manorama etc. Cho was, as usual, at his comical best in the role of a city rowdy – Ja(a)mbajaar Jaggu (that gave rise to the famous song by that name), mouthing the well-known Madras Ba(a)shai effortlessly (btw, why do a few have nothing better to do, than trolling Wikipedia and objecting, like our famous Nakkeerar :-), to content that may all not have “notability”, but are informative nonetheless?)
Watching Cho got me thinking on who in the history of Thamizh cinema spoke Madras Ba(a)shai like a pro onscreen, and I could think of only three names (in chronological order of their introduction to the celluloid world):
There have been others, but none of them ever came across as naturals as these three on this one. Maybe Kamal, but even he is reported to have said that “Loose” Mohan Annan is the best in the business. And the admirable part was that each of them (in the trio), put his own distinct stamp in delivering his lines – in the body language, timing, tonal inflection and overall expression. Today’s generation may not connect very well to the use of Madras Ba(a)shai in movies, due to their ever-changing tastes as well as suffering in general from ADD, but at one time it used to be the stuff of guffaws to a section of movie-goers, who, even while having a patronizing view of it, thoroughly enjoyed watching it enacted with uniquely Chennai-oriented theatrics.