Kamal Haasan and Singeetam Srinivasa Rao tasted success through their ventures – Raja Paarvai, Pushpaka Vimana (a.ka. Pesum Padam – a silent comedy starring Kamal and Amala) and Apoorva Sagodharargal (Kamal in dual role with dwarf Appu stealing our hearts). And then they delivered a popular blockbuster in Michael Madana Kama Rajan.
We are reminded in shades of Manmohan Desai and his crazy plots like Amar, Akbar Anthony, since story is pure nonsense (the most outrageous premise is a car falling over the cliff, the father landing miraculously unhurt in a hut below and getting reunited with his wife after over two decades) and the plot as pedestrian as possible. But it is still a laugh riot and Crazy Mohan gives us some cute lines to savor.
Singeetam Srinivasa Rao play a cameo of travelling singer with a bioscope – he conveys the bare outlines of the plot in the opening song, ‘ Kadha Kelu Kadha Kelu …’. So we have a rich man who loves a poor lady and their life is ruined by the rich man’s younger brother who eyes the fortune for himself and his son. Quadruplets are born but stolen by a thuggish Santhana Bharathi who disposes them in a unique manner.
One he raises to be his own criminal son, Michael. The others have the following destinies – one is abandoned at the Temple and is raised to be cook by Delhi Ganesh (Kama a.ka. Kameshwaran), one is left at the orphanage and grows up to be a Fireman (Rajan a.ka. Raju) and the ultimate miracle is the final one who is unknowingly found in the car by the biological father himself and goes to study Management in London (Madana).
On learning that the property is to be passed on to Madana on his return from London, the greedy relatives bump off the rich man. Their plans are foiled when Madana comes in accompanied by his strongman Bheem Boy (a play of the actor’s role of Bheem in TV serial Mahabharat) and takes charge. His father’s PA, Avinasi, – evergreen Nagesh – in a scheming and conniving role quickly changes loyalties and tries to win over Madana who accuses him of siphoning Rs. 25 Lakhs over the years.
A mystery call from Chennai that informs Madana about his father being murdered, sets him on the chase. The villains plan to get rid off him as well so that they can grab the property while Avinasi is interested in getting into Madana’s good books to enable him to marry off his daughter.
Action happens galore in Chennai – we get introduced to Kamal in all the roles and their accidental interchanges leads to hilarious moments with Khushboo, Manorama and Rupini and the paati played by SN Lakshmi. Kamal looks the same in all 4 avatars – a moustache, a beard and tobacco stained teeth being the variants. He manages to pull off the variations using body language and mannerisms. The most popular get up is of Kameswaran playing a naïve and innocent cook from Palakkad. He gets his accent right and is suitably complemented by Urvasi playing the role of Thiripurasundari.
Kama gets all the fun scenes – a meen related joke when accidentally a small fish falls into the sambar at a marriage function, his vain attempts to get the better of kleptomaniac paati SN Lakshmi who foxes him and arranges to get him married to Sundari, his sheer bewilderment when he is placed into unusual situations is a class act – the Bheemboy Bheemboy dialogue and his rub-ins with Khusboo who is trying to seduce him are truly hilarious.
Illaiyaraja delivers the usual score and BGM – the popular numbers include Sundari Neeyum Sundara Nanum (Kamal and Urvasi) and Rum Bum Bum Arambam (Kamal and Khusboo). Manorama (Gangabai) gets to do some theatrics but she steals the act in teaching Rupini (Chakkubai) to seduce Kamal in the song, ‘Siva Rathiri).
After the usual mix of fights and misunderstandings, the entire cast is assembled in a precariously creeky cabin perched on a mountain top. The cabin is careening under the weight and villains keep falling off the same. Efforts to rescue the family leads to some hilarious fights and fun moments. Ultimately it is ‘all-is-well-that-ends-well’. Not much in terms of climax and story-telling but the movie doesn’t hang heavy on you and the comedy does tickle your funny bone.
Kamal the actor makes all the difference in the movie and even the average script peppered with funny lines by Crazy Mohan takes off. He is ably supported by Urvasi and Manorama while the rest of the crew deliver the required performances. Like all stars Kamal fulfils the dream of tickling the audience using multiple roles – double acts are fine and there are many of them but a double double is doubly funny. (Dasavatharam is altogether different kettle of fish since the roles are sequential and relatively minor and of course the movie is not a comedy as well).