With the demise of Vivekanandan, the Tamil Cinema industry and the world of cinema as whole has brought in another void that can’t be filled. Akin to the demise of Kalaivanar NS Krishnan – the comedian whose dialogues in films that released more than 50 years ago still hold relevance, with Vivek the art of “socially responsible comedy” has reached a nadir which dangerously seems ultimate. As you can see, it took more than a decade, in fact it is the next generation that got us another comedian who along with being funny was also serious. The beauty is that, even the seriousness, with his impeccable timing, he conveyed it with a wit and charm that would make you laugh your lungs off and still you would find yourself thinking about it.
Just think about it, after the demise of NSK in the year 1957, for 3 decades there hadn’t been a single comedian who could replace him. Sure, there were comedians in the cinema industry who came and went, but not even one came close to the wit, thought and timing of the Kalaivanar.
The latter end of the 20th century the saw the raise of a young man who worked his way into the industry by doing part time comedy in the Madras Humour club, starting as early as his college semester holidays. It is from here that he earned the notice of the legendary K. Balachander who took him under his wings as an assistant for script-writing. After appearing as secondary cast characters in many films in the initial days, he slowly started to earn recognition as comedians. With the turn of the millennium, he became a sought-after comedian for his impeccable comic timing. In fact, there was a time where film makers would cast him in their films just as to increase the reach.
His performances in the films like Saami, Anniyan, 12B, Dumm Dumm Dumm are testimonies of his unique talent of comic timing and social responsibility. In my opinion, if anyone was socially responsible in films, it was him. And mind you, this was way before Ayushmann Khurrana created a niche for himself as a socially responsible star. Along with being impactful on the screen, he has also made a great impact off it with his Green Kalam initiative. As a forerunner of this initiative, he has planted more than 3 lakh samplings. He has been the go-to actor for many of the media awareness programmes for issues like usage of plastics, dengue awareness, etc.
It is not for nothing that he was awarded Padma Shri for his contributions to Indian cinema. He has acted in films with significantly lesser salary for the low-budget, non-mainstream films. He proved his acting mettle in serious roles as well in the films like Boys, Vellai Pookkal, Enaku 20 Unakku 18, Meesaya Murukku.
Overall, with the demise of the star in as suspicious and contentious the circumstances be, one thing is clear. No crop of the current generation of comedians, with all due respect to them, can come even as a far second to his persona on the screen. Indian cinema has lost yet another great artiste at the cruel hands of Fate. Rest in peace, sir!