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Tamil cinema has never underestimated the presence of comedians. In fact some directors have gone the extra mile to give comedians as much footage as the protagonists in the movie. Most of the time, they live up to the expectations barring a few.

Every period in Tamil cinema has been marked by these comedians. We had the Senthil-Goundamani duo rib tickle us for more than a decade. Who can forget their Karakattakaran jokes or the petromax light comedy? The duo rocked the scene with so much humor that we started guffawing the minute they appeared on screen. Goundamani has gone solo in many movies and emerged successful. In Mannan, he joined hands with Thalaivar and made us cackle our throats out. He has been successful when paired with Sathyaraj in Nadigan and Maaman Magal. Even with Jayaram in Murai Maaman he rocked the scene.

Vadivelu has appeared in movies long before he took the serious comedy trail. His role in Thevar Magan although not humorous was nevertheless iconic. In Singaravelan, he joined the pack of Goundamani and Charlie to provide comic relief. This slow churning breeze turned into a cyclone with the advent of Parthiepan. They joined hands in Bharathi Kannama and Vetri Kodi Kattu and the jokes rib tickled us. Shankar had so much confidence in Vadivelu that he even produced a movie Imsai Arasan that banked completely on Vadivelu. He carried the adage Vaigai Puyal squarely on his shoulders for a number of years until he succumbed to petty politics and comedy ridden with pun. Thereafter his presence created a dull throb that we began to look out for other comedians.

Vivek’s entry into Tamil cinema was not as grandiose as one would have thought. He was from the KB school and has appeared in numerous roles behind the lead actors. Saamy was the movie that catapulted him to great heights. His humor was unique where he tried to follow the footsteps of NSK in inducing humor with social messages. It worked well until the social messages started to peak. Nevertheless, he was quick enough to shift gears and he still appears with young heroes like Dhanush in Uthamaputhiran to light up the scene.

If Vivek and Vadivelu rocked the comedy charts, Santhanam broke records and gave confidence to directors like Rajesh to make full length comedy movies. Boss Engira Baskaran depended as much on Santhanam as it did on Arya, if not more. He did not disappoint and came through with a stellar performance. People who had missed his show in SMS tracked back to enjoy his humor after Boss.

Comedians are as important to a Tamil movie as the lead actors. Some movies have their track separately and some have it as part of the movie’s main storyline. Some comedians like Vivek take pains to write their own script while others improvise on what is offered by the directors. Few rely on slapstick comedy, puns and overt dialogues while others provide humor at family drama scales. Whatever path the comedian chooses as long as his motive is to provide laughter the audience is gratified.

While we sit back and enjoy Santhanam’s OKOK, which by the way, we hear is on its way to be a hit much like BEB solely on the merits of Santhanam’s comedy, we can also revel in the presence of adept comedians that Tamil cinema has been so generously blessed with.

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