Film and stage actor Cheenu Mohan died of heart attack early this morning in Chennai. He was 62. He has acted in over 3000 stage plays with actor-director Crazy Mohan, and his brother Maadhu Balaji. Crazy Mohan announced the news on social media this morning.
Cheenu Mohan began acting in Tamil films in the 1980s, and quit after playing small roles in about five films. In 2001, he became a full time stage actor in plays directed by Crazy Mohan and Maadhu Balaji. He also briefly was an employee with the Indian Overseas Bank.
Cheenu Mohan’s first film in 1989 was Varusham Padhinaaru. He had a small role in the film that starred Karthik and Kushboo as leads. He acted in Mani Ratnam’s Anjali in 1990 and the Rajinikanth-starrer Thalapathi in 1991. The next year he had worked on the SP Balasubrahmanyam starrer-Thalaivasal.
These weren’t significant roles, and he says in an interview that even though he was never after long roles, he didn’t have films come his way for about 14 years after this. His long career in theatre began with the play Alavudhinum 100 watts bulb-um where he played a disabled person.
He went on to star as a lead actor with the Crazy Mohan troupe. His was called Cheenu in plays, so he came to be known Cheenu Mohan. His best plays were Maadhu +2 and Madhil Mel Maadhu, and some of his others were adapted for TV in the 1990s. He reprised his roles in the TV adaptations too.
In 2016, he made his film come-back with Karthik Subbaraj’s Iraivi. After a chance encounter with Karthik at a tea stall in Chennai, he landed the role of an antique dealer John, Vijay Sethupathi’s uncle in the film. He was offered this role after Karthik Subbaraj was impressed by his performance in the one scene in which he featured in Thalapathi.
The actor said he wasn’t bothered about the length of his role. He said in a ToI interview, “As long as it is realistic and takes the story forward, I’m happy. After all, I was featured in just one scene in Thalapathi with Rajinikanth.”
He spoke of his come-back to cinema and said, “Imagine a child who falls into a pit and is stuck there for 14 hours. It felt like that for 14 years. Karthik Subbaraja marched left-right, put his hand into the pit and pulled me out.”
In the same year he starred in the other Vijay Sethupathi-starrer Aandavan Kattalai by director Manikandan. He played the role of a passport officer who got work done illegally for extra money. His best year as a film actor was probably his last – 2018.
He acted in Sketch as the supporting actor Gayathri’s father. In Chekka Chivantha Vaanam, Vada Chennai and Kolamavu Kokila he played important supporting roles. And in Kolamavu Kokila he had a memorable role as a police constable.
In the last few years, he was also a part of a number of short films and web series. He never restricted himself to any medium. He frequently said Nagesh was his inspiration to be an actor.
Crazy Mohan, SV Badri, and editor TS Suresh were among those from the industry to offer condolences.
Mohan said, “He made millions forget their worries and laugh their heart out. Since inception of Crazy Creations in 1979, he reveled in well knit friendship with each and every one in the troupe.”
SV Badri shared a tweet from the last time he met Cheenu Mohan, and said, “Very sad to announce the demise of our good friend and wonderful actor, P Mohan. The last time we met you, you were as cheerful as ever. Never thought you would leave us all so early.”
Very sad to announce the demise of our good friend and wonderful actor, P.Mohan, the Original Cheenu of Madhu-Cheenu duo this morning. The last time we met you, you were as cheerful as ever. Never thought you would leave us all so early. Om Shanti. https://t.co/3BksJKkbWW
— S V Badri (@svbadri) December 27, 2018
The last rites and cremation for Cheenu Mohan will happen in Anna Nagar, Chennai on December 29.