Tamil cinema has always produced stalwarts in the comic segment right from the very beginning. N.S.Krishnan, T.S.Balaiah were among the first few contingents to enthral viewers on the silver-screen. And who can forget the legendary comic actor Chandrababu! His stellar performances is still etched in the memory of ardent fans of tamil cinema and historians alike. A few years from then came the evergreen Nagesh, whose unique style of comic acting captured the imagination of the overall masses. The eventful and unrivalled duo of Senthil and Goundamani then followed and virtually cast a spell on viewers for more than two decades.
Well, there is only one thing which is constant in this world and that is change. Times have been changing and continue to do so, sometimes for the better and sometimes not so. There have been regular fluctuations in the comic front, with the varying trends changing with time. Yesteryear actress Manorama, who is regarded as a highly versatile performer complimented her male counterparts in the comic segment to a great extent. However, barring her female comedians seldom made a meaningful impact on the silver-screen. Kovai Sarala appeared to be promising in a few flicks but she more or less ended up playing second fiddle to male comedians. The 90’s was virtually ruled by Vivekh and similarly Vadivelu rose to popularity in the 2000’s. This continued and augured for tamil cinema until contemporary comedian Santhanam arrived in to the scene by virtue of his telling performances on telly, primarily Lollu Sabha.
Santhanam’s slapstick style of humour was an instant hit and it struck a chord with the audiences right since his very first feature in a movie. And from then, there was no stopping him. He rose from strength to strength and went on to feature in movies where he garnered more attention that the ‘hero’ of the flick itself. His popularity was so huge to the extent that some filmmakers felt a movie which stars Santhanam would certainly help them rake in huge profits at the box office. Although it is technically true, these filmmakers indulged in overdose thereby reducing the charm and exclusivity of this talented actor. Some even go to the extent of accusing him of merely re-doing what Goundamani was famously attributed to, hardcore mocking of characters in the film.
Tamil cinema, which is known for its excellent portrayal of comic scenes since its inception is recently going through a dry patch in the comic segment. Santhanam’s highly repetitive style of rendering performances is slowly starting to dim the much celebrated comic segment in tamil cinema. His indulgence in too much of anti-women puns and general mockery of things has attracted criticism from all quarters. It is also a sad state of affairs since an actor with such a calibre is being grossly underused. Another intriguing factor is the non availability of any other star who could match the potentials of Santhanam currently. It is worth mentioning that Soori is slowly getting into the big league but still has a long way to go. Apart from that, actors show promise in the comic segment in tits and bits but disappear soon. Perhaps, Santhanam could take the responsibility on his own shoulders and do full justice to his immense talent in order to improve the comic segment, which tamil cinema has always excelled in.