Michael Madana Kama Rajan

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Michael Madana Kama Rajan
L to R: Madan and Chakku Bai, Kameshwaran and Thirupurasundari, Shalini and Raju
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySingeetam Srinivasa Rao
Screenplay by
Story byKader Kashmiri
Produced byMeena Panchu Arunachalam
Starring
CinematographyB. C. Gowrishankar
Edited byD. Vasu
Music byIlaiyaraaja
Production
company
P. A. Art Productions
Release date
  • 17 October 1990 (1990-10-17)
Running time
162 minutes[1]
CountryIndia
LanguageTamil

Michael Madana Kama Rajan is a 1990 Indian Tamil-language comedy film directed by Singeetam Srinivasa Rao and written by Kamal Haasan, with Crazy Mohan penning the dialogues. The film stars Haasan in four roles alongside Urvasi, Rupini and Khushbu, while Manorama, Delhi Ganesh, Nassar, Venniradai Moorthy, S. N. Lakshmi, Jayabharathi, R. N. Jayagopal, Nagesh, Praveen Kumar and Santhana Bharathi, R. S. Shivaji play supporting roles. It revolves around quadruplets who get separated at birth and cross paths as adults.

Panchu Arunachalam obtained the rights to adapt a Pakistani film written by Kader Kashmiri. Despite retaining that film's core premise of quadruplets, Rao, Haasan and Mohan created an otherwise entirely new story.[2] The film was produced by Arunachalam's wife Meena, photographed primarily by B. C. Gowrishankar and edited by D. Vasu.

Michael Madana Kama Rajan was released on 17 October 1990, Diwali day, and was commercially successful, running for 175 days, thereby becoming a silver jubilee film.

Plot[edit]

Venugopal, a wealthy industrialist, marries a woman and they have quadruplets. His brother Nandagopal tries to have her and the babies killed by hired goons. Alex, the leader of the goons, refuses to kill the babies, so he adopts one (Michael), leaves one in an orphanage (Subramaniam Raju), one in a temple (Kameshwaran) who is adopted by a cook Palakkad Mani Iyer, and one (Madanagopal) in a car that belongs to Venugopal.

30 years later, Madan is a London-educated businessman. Venugopal has raised Madan as his adopted son, unaware that he is his biological son. Venugopal is seemingly killed by Nandagopal and his nephew, Ramu for his inheritance; unknown to them, the will has already named Madan as the beneficiary. Madan returns to Bangalore from London to take over his father's company. He confronts Avinashi, his father's PA, over his embezzlement, while reluctantly promising to forgive him if Avinashi accepted his culpability.

In Madras, Michael and Alex run a counterfeit money racket. While they escape from the police, Michael accidentally causes a fire in an art gallery. Raju, a firefighter, saves the artist Shalini and her paintings, leading to romance. Kameshwaran, a vegetarian cook for weddings, meets Thirupurasundari alias "Thirupu" and her grandmother in a wedding. Eventually, Kameshwaran marries Thirupu.

Someone contacts Madan over phone and tells him that his father's death was no accident, but planned, and asks him to meet her in Madras. After some distractions involving a theatre artist Chakkubai and her mother Gangabai, Madan meets the caller, Sushila, unaware she is his biological mother. While escaping from goons sent by Ramu, Madan meets Raju and hires him to take leave from firefighting and to impersonate him in Bangalore while Madan investigates in Madras. In exchange, Madan pays off Raju's loans.

Meanwhile, Ramu and Nandagopal have hired Michael to kill Madan. Michael sabotages Madan's car, not realising it is Raju. The brakes fail on the highway, but Raju brings the car to a safe stop. Sushila meets with him thinking he is Madan, but he redirects her to the real Madan in Madras. Raju, Shalini, and her father arrive at Madan's house in Bangalore. Raju confiscates back Avinashi's money, unaware of Madan's deal with Avinashi.

Meanwhile, Michael finds the real Madan in Madras. Madan and Chakkubai have fallen in love. Michael and Alex spy on them. Michael follows Madan, Chakkubai, Gangubai, and Sushila to Sushila's house where it is revealed that Madan's father is alive but dazed from the assassination attempt. Michael and Alex arrive at the scene. Sushila recognises Alex as the man who had taken her quadruplets and realises that Michael and Madan are her sons. Michael and Alex knock them out and kidnap Madan and the others to a mountain cabin near Bangalore.

Avinashi chances upon Kameshwaran on his wedding day, and hires him to impersonate Madan to retrieve the confiscated money. Back in Madan's house in Bangalore, Raju and Shalini plan to meet without her father knowing. Avinashi drugs Raju's soup, thinking Raju is Madan, but Madan's bodyguard Bheem drinks it. Raju and Shalini meet and profess their love for one another. Michael and Alex arrive at Madan's house to loot it. Michael sees Raju, mistakes him for Madan, and thinks that Madan has escaped from the cabin. He knocks Raju unconscious. Avinashi sees the unconscious Raju, assumes it was the effect of his drugged soup, and brings Kameshwaran in.

Kameshwaran is mistaken for Raju by Shalini who then tries to get intimate with him. Thirupu and her grandmother drag Kameshwaran away from her. Shalini then witnesses Kameshwaran hugging Thirupu. This angers her as she thinks it is Raju. Chakkubai and Gangubai also arrive at the house in search of Madan. Chakkubai mistakes Kameshwaran for Madan and introduces herself to everyone as Madan's lover. Shalini takes a rifle and holds everyone at gunpoint. Avinashi and the rest try to tell her that Kameshwaran is not Madan or Raju but she does not believe them.

Meanwhile, the real Madan has escaped the cabin with his parents and comes to the house. Amidst all this confusion, Michael steals Madan's wealth and escapes to the cabin. Everyone else follows them back to the cabin in multiple cars. Ramu and Nandagopal are already present in the cabin and hold everyone at gunpoint as they arrive . All four brothers are finally in the same room at the same time and Sushila tells them that they are her sons. The presence of all the people in the small cabin causes it to tilt over the cliff edge. The goons are knocked out and the four brothers work together to safely get everyone out of the cabin.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

The producer/writer Panchu Arunachalam saw a Pakistani film written by Kader Kashmiri featuring quadruplets being separated at birth and reuniting in the climax. He obtained the rights to adapt that film in Tamil, with Singeetam Srinivasa Rao hired to direct, the screenplay written by Kamal Haasan and the dialogues by Crazy Mohan. While the film retained the original's core premise and Kashmiri received credit for the story, the team of Rao, Haasan and Mohan created an otherwise entirely new story.[9] The film was initially titled Jolly Jag Jeevan Ram, but no one liked it. Mohan suggested Madana Kama Rajan, inspired by the 1941 film of the same name, which Haasan agreed to but felt it was not inclusive; at his suggestion, Mohan added "Michael".[9][10] As Haasan did not like spending time to establish the premise, the opening montage song "Kadha Kelu Kadha Kelu" was conceived to do the same.[10][11]

Haasan said he wrote the script of Michael Madana Kama Rajan "like a kolam that you teach a child. There were just a few dots and crosses. Mohan was the only one who truly got it." He said the story has its origin in Oscar Wilde's play The Importance of Being Earnest.[12] Despite being credited for the story, Kashmiri had not received his due of 11 lakh (equivalent to 92 lakh or US$110,000 in 2020) as of 2013.[13] The film was produced by Arunachalam's wife Meena under P. A. Art Productions, cinematography was handled primarily by B. C. Gowrishankar, and editing by D. Vasu.[1]

Casting[edit]

Haasan played four distinct characters who are quadruplets: the criminal Michael, the businessman Madanagopal, the cook Kameshwaran and the firefighter Subramaniam Raju. To portray each quadruplet, Haasan sported different looks; for Michael, he grew his hair long and had a French beard; for Madan, he wore glasses and was clean-shaven; for Kameshwaran (also clean-shaven), he brushed his hair back and applied a vibhuti tilaka on his forehead; for Raju, he kept his moustache thick and hair short.[14] In keeping with the quadruplets' diverse upbringings, he even had different speaking styles for each quadruplet: a "gruff" accent for Michael,[4] an English one for Madan, a Palakkad one for Kameshwaran, and Madras Bashai for Raju.[15] As Coimbatore was then a hub for numerous counterfeit money scams, Haasan added this to Michael's characterisation.[10]

Urvashi played Kameshwaran's love interest Thirupurasundari,[16] this being her second Tamil film after Mundhanai Mudichu (1983). She dubbed in her own voice at Haasan's insistence.[3][17][18] Khushbu was cast as Raju's love interest Shalini after a meeting with Arunachalam's son Subbu.[2][19] Rupini played Madan's love interest Chakku Bai.[20] According to Haasan, all three actresses would be "squeamish about what would be their part and we couldn't take any more of it", hence a love interest for Michael was not created.[10]

Nagesh initially wanted to play a different role from Madan's PA Avinashi, but when Haasan asked him if he would play his role, Nagesh retorted, "As if you'd give me that if I asked you for it!" He was interested in playing Thirupurasundari's kleptomaniac grandmother before S. N. Lakshmi was cast.[12] Venniradai Moorthy, who played Shalini's father Shivaraman,[21] added "his own quirks" to the role.[10] Haasan cast Praveen Kumar as Madan's bodyguard after being impressed with his performance as Bhima in the TV series Mahabharat; the bodyguard was named Bheem as a reference to the earlier role.[2] Delhi Ganesh, who played Kameshwaran's foster father Mani Iyer, also used a Palakkad accent for his character.[22] Santhana Bharathi was cast as Michael's foster father Alex after Haasan recommended him to Rao.[23]

Filming[edit]

The song "Sundhari Neeyum Sundharan Njanum" was filmed entirely in slow-motion at 48 frames per second.[24][25] Rao initially wanted the picturisation with 20 widows in background, but changed the idea after hearing the tune of the song.[24] The song "Rum Bum Bum Arambum" was choreographed by Prabhu Deva.[2] In a scene set in Madan's house where many characters confront each other, they cunningly try to evade Michael when held by him at gunpoint; it was not written in the script that they should do so, but improvised during filming at Haasan's suggestion.[12]

The climax sequence, featuring a "cliff-hanging-house", was based on a similar scene from the American film The Gold Rush (1925).[26] The exterior portion was shot in Coonoor and the interior of the house was shot in studio, in a hydraulic set.[2][24] Kabir Lal was selected as cinematographer for the climax sequence due to the complexities involved with shooting multiple lookalikes.[9] Due to his rapport with Panchu Arunachalam, Santhana Bharathi was allowed to aid post-production works such as dubbing and re-recording.[23]

Themes and influences[edit]

Haasan has acknowledged various films as influences on Michael Madana Kama Rajan, namely Nadodi Mannan, Deiva Magan and Yaadon Ki Baaraat.[10] Rao described it as a "modern version of the old folk tale of a king, queen and their quadruplets who grow up in different households".[24]

Soundtrack[edit]

The soundtrack was composed by Ilaiyaraaja. Vaali wrote the lyrics for all songs except "Kadha Kelu Kadha Kelu" and "Sundhari Neeyum Sundharan Njanum", which Panchu Arunachalam wrote.[27][28] "Sundhari Neeyum Sundharan Njanum" was conceived out of Haasan's desire for a song like "Margazhi Thingal" (a verse from the devotional poem Thiruppavai) to feature in the film. K. J. Yesudas was supposed to sing the song, but due to his busy schedule Ilaiyaraaja insisted on Haasan singing it.[29] The Malayalam lyrics in the song were written by Poovachal Khader.[25] The song is set in the Carnatic raga known as Kedaram.[30][31]

"Vechalum Vekkama Ponnalum" was inspired by the Thirukkural. While writing the lyrics, Vaali made every syllable have a stress as instructed by Ilaiyaraaja.[32] "Siva Rathiri" is set in Natabhairavi,[33] and "Mathapoovu Oru Penna" is set in Malgunji, a Hindustani raga.[34] The songs "Mathapoovu Oru Penna" and "Aadi Pattam Thedi" were not picturised.[35] For the Telugu-dubbed version Michael Madana Kamaraju, Rajashri wrote all the lyrics.[36] "Vechalum Vekkama Ponnalum" was later recreated by Ilaiyaraaja's son Yuvan Shankar Raja for Dikkiloona (2021).[37] "Rum Bum Bum Arambum" was recreated by Yuvan for the film Coffee with Kaadhal.[38]

Tamil tracklist
No.TitleLyricsSinger(s)Length
1."Kadha Kelu Kadha Kelu"Panchu ArunachalamIlaiyaraaja, Deva 
2."Rum Bum Bum Arambum"VaaliS. P. Balasubrahmanyam, K. S. Chithra 
3."Siva Rathiri"VaaliK. S. Chithra, Mano 
4."Sundhari Neeyum Sundharan Njanum"Panchu Arunachalam, Poovachal KhaderKamal Haasan, S. Janaki 
5."Vechalum Vekkama Ponnalum"VaaliMalaysia Vasudevan, S. Janaki 
6."Mathapoovu Oru Penna"VaaliK. S. Chithra 
7."Aadi Pattam Thedi"VaaliMano, K. S. Chithra 
Telugu tracklist
No.TitleLyricsSinger(s)Length
1."Kadha Chebutha"RajashriSingeetam Srinivasa Rao 
2."Rum Bum Bum Arambum"RajashriS. P. Balasubrahmanyam, K. S. Chithra 
3."Siva Rathiri"RajashriS. P. Balasubrahmanyam, K. S. Chithra 
4."Sundharudeevu Sundari Nenu"RajashriS. P. Balasubrahmanyam, K. S. Chithra 
5."Ee Kerintha"RajashriS. P. Balasubrahmanyam, K. S. Chithra 

Release and reception[edit]

Michael Madana Kama Rajan was released on 17 October 1990, Diwali day.[1] Julie of Kalki liked Haasan's performance as Kameshwaran the most among the quadruplets, but criticised the climax for its length.[39] The film was commercially successful and ran for 175 days, thereby becoming a silver jubilee film.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Dhananjayan 2011, p. 134.
  2. ^ a b c d e Suganth, M (17 October 2020). "Celebrating 30 years of Kamal Haasan's comic masterpiece Michael Madana Kama Rajan". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 4 January 2021. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  3. ^ a b Dhananjayan 2011, p. 135.
  4. ^ a b c Mehar, Rakesh (17 October 2016). "What makes 'Michael Madana Kama Rajan' the finest Tamil comedy till date". The News Minute. Archived from the original on 27 September 2017. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  5. ^ Dhananjayan 2011, p. 136.
  6. ^ "Noted Kannada Lyricist Jayagopal dead". DNA India. PTI. 19 May 2008. Archived from the original on 15 January 2021. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  7. ^ Ramakrishnan, N. (10 June 2020). "Remembering Crazy Mohan, a year after his death". Business Line. Archived from the original on 7 December 2020. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  8. ^ ராம்ஜி, வி. (18 October 2020). "'திருப்பு திருப்புன்னான்', 'மீன் பிடிக்கிற கரண்டி', 'கேட்ச் மை பாயிண்ட்', 'கடன்பட்டார் நெஞ்சம் போல் கலங்கினான்', 'அங்கவஸ்திர ஜரிகை மாதிரி மளிகை லிஸ்ட்', 'இது இங்கிலீஷ் மீனாக்கும்!', 'பீம்பாய் பீம்பாய்'; - காமெடியில் தனி சரித்திரம் படைத்த 'மைக்கேல் மதன காமராஜன்' 30 ஆண்டுகள்!". Hindu Tamil Thisai (in Tamil). Archived from the original on 1 November 2020. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Retro Ticket (15 November 2020). Reel #10 | Michael Madana Kamarajan | MMKR | Greatest comedy ever? | Kamal, Crazy Mohan, Singeetham. Archived from the original on 1 August 2022. Retrieved 15 January 2021 – via YouTube.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g "Kamal Haasan shares the backstory of Michael Madana Kama Rajan, Alphonse Puthren ecstatic". Sify. July 2021. Archived from the original on 6 July 2021. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  11. ^ a b "Vidya Balan is impressed by Michael Madhana Kama Rajan". The Indian Express. 16 October 2019. Archived from the original on 30 May 2020. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  12. ^ a b c Suganth, M. (11 June 2020). "Kamal Haasan shares delightful trivia on Michael Madana Kama Rajan". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 22 June 2020. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  13. ^ "Kader Kashmiri's case against Kamal Haasan". The Free Press Journal. 25 January 2013. Archived from the original on 3 October 2020. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  14. ^ Raj, Maya (July 2010). "Style Sutra: Kamal Haasan". South Scope. p. 52.
  15. ^ Sundaram, Nandhu (28 November 2020). "30 Years Of Michael Madana Kama Rajan: An Ode To Kamal Haasan's Genius". Moneycontrol. Archived from the original on 28 November 2020. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  16. ^ Vasudevan, K. V. (26 November 2016). "A filmy reunion". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 3 December 2016. Retrieved 21 September 2017.
  17. ^ Shiva Kumar, S. (17 June 2005). "The beauty of comic timing". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 16 October 2020. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  18. ^ Rangan, Baradwaj (11 November 2020). "In front of the Camera, There Is No Suriya, Vijay Or Dhanush: Urvashi". Film Companion. Archived from the original on 17 November 2020. Retrieved 24 January 2021.
  19. ^ Manoj Kumar, R (6 July 2019). "South Stream: Kamal Haasan's Michael Madana Kama Rajan". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on 12 June 2020. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  20. ^ Ge, Krupa (11 June 2019). "Ms. Representation: Crazy's women – A lesson in writing". Cinema Express. Archived from the original on 28 September 2020. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  21. ^ Rangan, Baradwaj (17 October 2020). "Michael Madana Kama Rajan Turns 30: A "Critical" Look at This Beloved Kamal Haasan-Singeetam Srinivasa Rao-Crazy Mohan Comedy". Film Companion. Archived from the original on 13 November 2020. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  22. ^ Kolappan, B. (11 June 2019). "The king of comedy leaves his fans in tears". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 15 January 2021. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  23. ^ a b Suganth, M (17 October 2020). "It was quite challenging to work on a tilting set: Santhana Bharathi remembers Michael Madana Kama Rajan". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  24. ^ a b c d Gopalakrishnan, Aswathy (29 October 2016). "Singeetam Srinivasa Rao Interview: "The Golden Rule Of Cinema Is That There Is No Golden Rule"". Silverscreen India. Archived from the original on 9 June 2020. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  25. ^ a b Ramnath, Nandini (19 February 2017). "Picture the song: 'Sundari Neeyum' is a slo-mo beauty". Scroll.in. Archived from the original on 15 January 2021. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  26. ^ Kamath, Sudhish (4 January 2008). "No, thank you! -- Welcome". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 25 January 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  27. ^ "Michael Madhanakama Rajan Tamil Film LP Vinyl Record by Ilayaraja". Mossymart. Archived from the original on 21 June 2021. Retrieved 21 June 2021.
  28. ^ "Michael Madana Kama Rajan". JioSaavn. Archived from the original on 1 August 2022. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  29. ^ Rangan, Baradwaj (4 September 2014). "And more on the Ilaiyaraaja connection". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 24 May 2015. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  30. ^ Sundararaman 2007, p. 160.
  31. ^ ராமானுஜன், டாக்டர் ஆர். (17 August 2018). "ராகயாத்திரை 18: பொன்மானே சங்கீதம் பாடிவா..." Hindu Tamil Thisai (in Tamil). Archived from the original on 22 September 2021. Retrieved 22 September 2021.
  32. ^ "Per Vechalum song was inspired from Thirukkural, reveals Ilaiyaraaja". The Times of India. 21 September 2021. Archived from the original on 22 September 2021. Retrieved 22 September 2021.
  33. ^ Sundararaman 2007, p. 158.
  34. ^ Sundararaman 2007, p. 143.
  35. ^ "30 Years of Michael Madana Kama Rajan: 40 facts you probably didn't know about the mother of all comedies". Cinema Express. 17 October 2019. p. 34. Archived from the original on 1 August 2022. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  36. ^ "Michael Madana Kamaraju". JioSaavn. Archived from the original on 15 January 2021. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  37. ^ "Santhanam's 'Dikkilona' trending at the top, fans rejoice". The Times of India. 24 December 2020. Archived from the original on 20 January 2021. Retrieved 24 February 2021.
  38. ^ "Rum Bum Bum: First single from Coffee with Kaadhal out". Cinema Express. 1 July 2022. Archived from the original on 1 July 2022. Retrieved 31 July 2022.
  39. ^ ஜூலி (4 November 1990). "மைக்கேல், மதன, காம, ராஜன்". Kalki (in Tamil). p. 64. Archived from the original on 24 October 2021. Retrieved 24 October 2021.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Dhananjayan, G. (2011). The Best of Tamil Cinema, 1931 to 2010: 1977–2010. Galatta Media. OCLC 733724281.
  • Sundararaman (2007) [2005]. Raga Chintamani: A Guide to Carnatic Ragas Through Tamil Film Music (2nd ed.). Pichhamal Chintamani. OCLC 295034757.

External links[edit]