Dearth of comediennes in Tamil cinema is no laughing matter

By M Bharat Kumar Published on Jul 24, 2018 11:41 AM IST

Kovai Sarala

Tamil cinema had seen popular comediennes from T A Mathuram to Manorama to Kovai Sarala over the past eight decades, establishing a place for themselves. However, there is a vacuum now, which audience say is very hard to be filled by the current generation of artistes.

Speaking to News Today, Sridharan, a film historian, said, "Gone are the days when there were scripts written for comediennes. In those days, T A Mathuram or Manorama had scope to excel. Sadly, these days, it is more male-centric and the idea of comedy on the big screen has changed a lot."

"There are talented young girls trying to evoke humour on the screen. But they come very briefly on screen. They eventually fail to make an impact," he said.

According to Murali, a senior citizen and lover of movies, "The quick wit of N S Krishnan and Mathuram were filled with sarcasm and a strong messages for society. They were not preachy, but brainy and evoked instant laughter."


"Manorama was a delight to watch. She stood out even if she was paired with Nagesh, Thenga Srinivasan, Chandrababu or Cho. Her performance as JilJil Ramamani in 'Thillana Mohanambal' is hailed as one of the best in Indian cinema," reminisced Murali.

He added, "All artistes those days first trained in acting on stage. They were well-trained. So, they made us laugh and cry with their performance. Sadly, today everything happens in a hurry."

"Today humour means double-meaning dialogues. Moreover, women are objectified in comedies. There are talented artistes like Vidyulekha Raman, OKOK fame Madhumitha and Aarthi. But they are not given enough opportunities," he points out.

After Aachi Manorama, it was Kovai Sarala who came close to fill her shoes.

T A Mathuram

After movies like 'Mundhanai Mudichu' and 'Chinna Veedu', she had offers coming her way. Her body language and dialogue delivery won her acclaim.

She dominated the 1980s, '90s and early 2000, acting with Goundamani, Senthil and Vadivelu. She even managed to play Kamal Haasan's wife in 'Sathileelavathy', a movie that took her places.

Ganesh, a retired government staff and a movie-lover, says, "I am a great fan of veteran actress Sachu. She excelled in 'Kadhalikka Neramillai'. I saw 'Ooty Varai Uravu' almost a dozen times for her. Sadly, no one can match comediennes like Manorama and Sachu today."

Kovai Sarala recently said, "The responsibility is on the shoulders of filmmakers. If they come up with scripts where comediennes have scope, we will be happy and can unearth fresh talent."

There are women-centric movies that are being made today. Similarly, comediennes should have more scope to perform on screen. I am confident people will never say 'no' to good humour, she asserts.

They made us laugh...
T A Mathuram, M Saroja, Sachu, T P Muthulakshmi, Manorama, Kovai Sarala, Vidyulekha Raman, Aarthi.