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On Visu

Filed under: Uncategorized — dingchak at 6:31 pm on Thursday, June 29, 2006

Visu: A comic genius.

Ok, I was just kidding in the title. If you know don’t know who Visu is, if you think Kamal Hassan in Ek Duje Ke Liye was cute, or if you think South Indians eat Dosa for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I don’t think you will get very much out of this piece.

Since you persist, here is a brief background-

Visu pioneered, wrote, starred and directed a bunch of family drama, middle- class depression, Patxploitation (exploiting the patriarch) movies familiar to all desi movies viewers in the 80’s.  These movies had cleverly alliterative titles – Samsaram Oru Minsaram (Marriage is like electricity), Penmani Aval Kanmani (Girl, she’s a pearl – OK, so my Tamil sucks), and many others I am too lazy to Google or IMDB.

Of all the Mahaan Insaans to hit Tamil cinema screens in the mid 80s,  there is none more worthy of our collective bile than Visu (I am so cool I don’t need a last name). Visu’s defining characteristic as an actor was his overbearing smugness, which sounds like a lot of retired Tam Brams in Mylapore i know.

However, what makes Visu’s story interesting is the range of emotions he evokes amongst people of different ages. Ask the average Tamil youth anything about Visu, and he froths at the mouth. Ask a retired Tamilian grandfather, and he proudly takes out his tickets from his last Visu movie from Devi Paradise from his pocket.

Why this dichotomy we must ask.

The hatred Visu has inspired amongst legions of children growing up in Madras cannot be understated. Sultry evenings in early 80’s Mylapore(a madras suburb) would often find kids amusing themselves in a harmless Tamilian version of “Eenie Meenie Miney Moe”. Their version went “Aadu, Maadu, Pasu, Kusu” [for the uninitiated – Goat, Cow, Milch Cow, Fart]. The guy who was “Kusu” was branded for life, or, at least until the next round.

However, by 1987 the chant had turned into  “Aadu, Maadu, VISU, Kusu”, and it was the guy who was “Visu” who cringed in shame!

So how, we must ask, did he inspire so much hate that children would rather be a noxious gas than be linked to him?

Visu’s features typically featured a joint family of ungrateful children, usually 3 sons – 2 married with nasty wives, and one “youth”- usually Dilip (I’ll dance on his grave with my hob-nailed boots) in a cut-sleeve Banian indulging in the dreadful trinity of the most unforgivable of Dravidian vices- smoke, drink and lech (this was before the Hindi serial Subah – which made drugs THE thing to do to piss of parents).

It also  featured an eternally suffering mother (Kamla Kamesh) flashing a tired, beatific smile that rivaled KR Vijaya’s Amman faces of the 80’s- (aaah, but that’s another story) when times were good, and stuffing the end of her Madusaru saree into her mouth to stifle her sobs, when times were bad.

*Note* Sometimes the third sibling is a woman, in which case, she is a slut
with a heart of gold.

*Note* Sometimes there’s an adopted kid who generally screws up, but in a
good way.

The plot unfolds with a happy family that eats, sings and laughs together. Then the brothers’ wives start their dissing (i don’t know why, but there’s usually something about money involved), sowing the seeds of dissent. The stoic father bears all and notes the treachery in his little black notebook with a Camlin HB pencil. At the half way stage, things are usually pretty far gone, with either the sons moving to a new house, or kicking the others out of their old house, or dividing the house with Lechman Rekhas etc.

This is when Visu takes charge. Whenever someone says something nasty, he doesn’t fight back, but nods wisely, smiles in his supercilious way and files it for future notice. Nastiness upon nastiness builds up to a climactic last scene where like Poirot, he gets all the badasses together in the family living room, and lashes out a 20 minute dialogue, chronicling each character’s treachery.

Now the Visu climax is unique, each slimeball’s comeuppance happens with Visu moving from pillar to pillar in the ancestral home unleashing vengeance in a whiny high pitched voice and unique cadence (likened to the sound of a dentist drill while having a root canal). When he is finished with one person, the soundtrack goes *bang*,he moves to the next pillar, and starts again. If there’s an adopted kid in the story, the last salvo is usually reserved to show how blood is thinner than water and how the adopted kid is the only good apple/white sheep of the lot

All this while, Kamla Kamesh is so busy stuffing acres of Madusaru into her mouth  that she can only nod and sob.

At the end of this, the junta are suitably contrite, and the wives cringe in shame. Of course they all make up and realize what a magaan yinsaan they have in their midst. The husbands slap their wives, and put feet to the father. All’s well and they sit together for the family feast, and the movie ends with either a joke, or with a joint photograph.

I was watching Baghbaan the other day, and from the first 20 minutes, looking at how happy everyone was, I realized that the only way it could unfold would be the Visu way. I switched to the Weather Channel immediately. If I wanted to relive the Visu experience, I could call my dentist.


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Comment by Krishna

November 29, 2006 @ 1:55 pm

Its a real tribute.. But, dash it, there is no reference to Kishmu..!! Any chronicle on Visu is incomplete without Kishmu

There is a friend of mine who is a big Visu lover, he roams around under the name of ‘Ambalavanan’..

PS: Dancing on grave with hob-nailed boots?? you must be a plum-lover..!!

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Comment by Ambalavanan

December 3, 2006 @ 3:57 pm

There is one important technical mistake that you have made. Visu’s third son is not Dilip. It is always chandrasekar in Kaki uniform, union member, with a great name “Kuriakose”.
And he is mostly unmarried or just then married, he always “kills” Visu by remaining silent, he stands in the final pillar.
Visu says “Kanna unna paathu na peruma padaernda”.

Dilip is mostly the boy friend of Visu’s last daughter who gives her a baby etc…
If you want you can dance on his(Dilip’s) graves. I am nobody to stop you. But don’t give the wrong reason.

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Comment by dingchak

December 3, 2006 @ 10:06 pm

Max respec!
You are spot on on the Sundrasegar reference; one hairy fourth pillar he used to make. Can’t wait for someone to do a number on him on internet. Can you do its?

On dilip- he is multi talented that one, sometimes son, other times son in law, always the vomit inducer.

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Comment by Ciara

February 13, 2007 @ 7:41 pm

I had a HUGE crush on Dilip once upon a time! :p

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Comment by dingchak

February 13, 2007 @ 7:50 pm

Ciara- you can still have him, I heard he’s about to appear next season on VH1’s surreal life, along with Vanilla Ice, the legendary comedian Chinni Jayanth, and Pepa (of Salt & Pepa). Dilip- what a man! 😉

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Comment by Ciara

February 13, 2007 @ 8:33 pm

All this talk about visu and dilip suddenly reminds me of RAMKI….man…what the heck happened to him?? haha…he was present in a lot of these kootu kudumbams types stories too! such a loser!

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Comment by YumPi

February 26, 2007 @ 6:07 am

Visu. Da man. I still remember the heady days of mid-eighties and TV had made its advent in Jabalpur and I had my first tryst with Visu. Sundays were usually reserved for unabashed movie viewing via old-fashioned tapes that took several rounds of tightening, re-tightening and the even more old fashioned but always reliable slap to make ’em work on rented VCRs. That was also when the Tamizh uncles around made sure any preference of ours was brushed away and the inevitable Visu movie took place of pride in the evening part of the show. Ya, the trick was to get as many tapes as possible to ensure maximum RoI on the Rs 200 paid as rent on the player for a 12 hour period. Then on, anyone says Visu and I can give Carl Lewis a run for his money.

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Comment by dingchak

February 26, 2007 @ 5:39 pm

hey yumpy- you married yet?

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Comment by a

July 26, 2007 @ 5:10 pm


brought back painful memories of Gult-dubbed Visu fare I had the misfortune of watching.

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