Marriage made in saloon, is one of Crazy's more popular works. It is certainly among the A list of dramas that Crazy has created. Personally, I would rank it behind Meesai Aanalum Manaivi and Return of Crazy Thieves in Palavakkam. Marriage made in Saloon was so popular during its time that K. Balachander decided to make it into a movie "Poi Kaal kudhirai". The stage drama revolves around a 'bet' between 'bet' Padmanabhan and Maadhu. They keep this 'bet' in a Hair-cut Salone where they accidentally bump into each other. The 'bet' is that Maadhu has 1-year to make 'Bet' Padmanabhan's daughter - Janaki - fall in love with Maadhu. Failing which he has to tonsure his head and move around as a 'pandaram'. If he does succeed, Padmanabhan agrees to marry off his daughter to Maadhu. The "gentleman's agreement" is that Padmanabhan does not bust Maadhu when Maadhu tries to lie/cheat/pretend-tobe-someone else in the process of woo'ing Janaki.
The real hero of the drama in ‘Advocate’ Subbu who plays 'Saloon Kadai’ Muthu. Subbu is a fantastic actor and a total live wire who can get you into splits of laughter in no time. I so loved his voice and character in "Return Of Crazy Thieves". In this drama he has makes the audience literally burst their stomach while he sends them into fits of laughter. I have heard the dialogs so many times and in spite of that the quiz scene had me laughing uncontrollably. That scene alone was worth the price of the ticket. His voice is so unique and awesome that I am totally obsessed with “Maadhe.. naan dhaan unga appan vandhukireen…rrrrammmsaaamiii”. His instant voice modulations are beyond awesome. During the break, I made sure I had Maadhu-balaji introduce me to Subbu. I had asked him several hundred thousand times if Subbu was coming for that day’s play – that Maadhu said “ivan dhaan ba unnoda periya fan.. nee varuviyannu kettunde irundhaan”. I then had the “jenma saabulyam” of telling Subbu that I was his biggest fan. I am still cursing myself for having forgotten the Camera.
The other characters in the drama are Janaki’s maternal grandfather, Mythili (Janaki’s mother), Gopi (Janaki’s boyfriend), Chellappa as cinema-crazy brother of Janaki, Madhu’s friend Cheenu and Madhu’s father Ramanujam. Janaki’s grandfather and quiz master was played by Ramesh (the ‘I am ramanujam… I am ramanujam’ fame person from Meesai Aanalum Manaivi). ‘Cheenu’ was not played by Mohan, who is the most popular ‘cheenu’ (at one point he was the most popular among the drama troupe cast). I so missed Sumangali in Janaki’s role. Both Mythili and Janaki were new faces. Chellappa was played by a new and upcoming actor. While overall the drama was good. This was more because of the quality of the original script. The the execution was poor. Especially by the lady who played Janaki. She not only missed her lines (in that she used different words instead of the actual ones and made the lines sound less impressive ) but also called Chellapa as Cheenu (sacrilege). The she jumped off script and said “oh!.. sorry sorry.. its cheenu”. Subbu made the error of not deviating from the script when Crazy Mohan was improvising the drama. The original script has Crazy Mohan’s character as ‘bet’ Padmanabha Iyengar. Crazy had apparently changed the character to ‘bet’ Padmanabhan Iyer. This was obvious to everyone as he had come on stage with a big pattai on his forehead. Subbu still called him ‘bet’ Padmanabha Iyengar. After a point the characters began to start laughing at their own errors. They also edited out the scene where Maadhu dresses up as Hanuman.
Yesterday’s show was a double-bill with Marriage made in Saloon being the first drama and ‘Chocolate Krishna’ being the second one. I chose the skip the latter. Crazy and S. Ve. Sekhar aren’t today, what they were in their heydays. I would recommend ‘Marriage made in Saloon’ any day though. It is worth catching it on stage.
P.s: 'Kulla' Gopi, the dimunitive actor (who said the classic lines in MMKR "kameshwara ...mmm..mmm.." while scratching his armpit) was in this play as well playing his traditional role. He is now very old and from the looks of it partially blind. The other actors did a fantastic job of supporting him, keeping him in play and making sure he knew where he was standing and when his lines were up. But, just as it was with Crazy Venkatesh, it was very sad to see him age and wither.