The year was 2002 and Kamal in collaboration with Crazy Mohan, a long time associate as story / dialogue writer, came up with 2 mindless comic capers – Pammal K Sambandam (PKS) and Panchathantiram (PT a.ka. 5 Ruses).
I remember watching them at Albert theatre in Chennai and enjoying it as a fun riot. It is interesting to examine their contours now as there was indeed a method to the madness and both turned out to be good money spinners.
PKS was a comedy caper featuring Kamal and Simran as the lead paid. They share a mutual abhorrence for the opposite sex and an aversion to being married. Well they fall for each other in the end and do get married. Till that happens it is all madness and mayhem as each tries to outsmart the other using Abbas and Sneha as their proxies.
PT stands on two pillars – a running theme is the great friendship of 5 buddies with Kamal as their leader (interesting sidelight is that Kamal’s 4 friends represent 4 southern nativities viz. Tamilian, Malayali, Telugu and Kannadiga.) The other one is the comic track with Kamal, aptly named Ramchandramurthy (The Ideal Man) is suspected by his wife, Simran, of having a liaison with femme fatale, Ramya Krishnan.
- Kamal and Simran were the lead actors in both movies and became a hit pair. Simran acted up well against Kamal and was not overwhelmed by the opportunity. But it ended with that as they did not further films together
- Both had great 1 liners thanks to Crazy Mohan – a perfect recipe for repeat audience as the lines were delivered well by the seasoned performers particularly Kamal (The ‘Minnadi – Pinnadi’ sequence and the sequence where Kamal gets cross questioned by Nagesh are the best of the lot)
- They avoided getting into any sexist rut by using appropriate counterpoise. Simran hates and derogates men to the same extent as Kamal’s derision for the fairer sex. And they end up making a common cause against marriage. In Panchathantiram this is achieved by ensuring Ram does lead a blemishless life post marriage and half the trouble is caused since Simran is overly suspicious about him
- Deva was the music composer for both films and came up with some peppy numbers that were very popular. Known for his Gana and peppy numbers the signature songs included Kamal crooning ‘Kandasamy Madasamy’ in PKS and in Panchathantiram we had the ensemble cast enacting ‘Vai Raja Vai’ with Ramya (Innovative opening line – Meri Jaan Meri Jaan Sunday Ke Sunday, Aana Meri Jaan Meri Jaan Sunday Ke Sunday)
- They made for happy endings though not without the usual twists n turns
- Kamal in PKS is a stuntman (working class) guy pitted against the Simran as a doctor (middle class). Their love combination would seem incredible as per the class and English language barrier. Crazy Mohan was smart enough to build some humor taking potshots on this as well (Kamal uses pidgin English all along trying to impress Simran). PT has no such parallel.
- PT has an element of a thriller – the first half actually involves an apparent dead body that then goes missing and then reappears in flesh just before intermission. PKS has no such parallel.
- PT remains a comic caper end-to-end whereas PKS has sudden twists of sorrow and the humour element runs out towards the end.
Still this was a different Kamal that we saw just in the interlude between the classical ‘Hey Ram‘ and the sobering ‘Anbe Sivam’. The movies remain popular even now and you are sure find the reruns on in the local telly channels over weekends. I do not mind catching them once in a while – am sure there are many other Kamal movie lovers who feel the same.