Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Never Tiring Nagesh.



    Nagesh was a special favourite of Tamil Cinema.He was not just an actor delivering his humour skits like other comedians.He did not have in his acting programme any social messages to be purposefully passed on to the film viewers like Kalaivanar N.S.Krishnan. Nor did he have the privilege of getting his comedy portions recorded separately, for the regular listening of people through the radio or gramophone as Thangavelu had for his 'Kalyana Parisu','AduthaVeetu Pen','Kaidhi Kannyiram' and 'Arivali'.{'Thiru vilaiyadal'  Dharumi scene was perhaps the only exception}.
   But Nagesh was meant for much more than other actors of the humour brand.From the days of 'Nenjil Oer Alayam' and 'Server Sundaram', this lean man with loud thoughts could dramatically transmit a variety of human emotions like love,disappointment,anger, pity revenge, mischief and villainy with spontaneity, dedication and involvement.No doubt he was a priority preference, in the list of epoch making directors like Sridhar,K.Balachander and K.S.Gopalakrishnan. These talent hungry makers of films,extracted the maximum stuff from Nagesh, as this born talent was ever ready to deliver the best in him.
     As a ward boy in 'Nenjil Oer Alayam' it was Nagesh  who literally provided the comic relief in an otherwise serious movie with a heavy theme of love and sacrifice.As a waiter- turned actor in 'Server Sundaram' he played the role of a hero though R.Muthuraman was also there,as his friend and lover of the girl whom he  too loved.. Nagesh  delivered his performance with amazing energy levels for providing  comedy moments, besides proving his capacity for donning  an emotion packed character. As a conductor in 'Madras to Pondichery', he provided an astounding road comedy joining the other talented comedian A.Karunanidhi. Nagesh's role as an Anglo Indian engine fireman with Sivaji as driver, generated natural humour in 'Pachai Vilakku' a film with a lot of tragic under currents. 'Halo Partner' was another Nagesh  hit in which along with MRR Vasu,our comedian showered hilarious moments with utmost priority for audience guffaws.
   As a tailor with a jovial mindset in 'Major Chandrakanth',Nagesh  dramatically transformed himself into a vengeful elder brother waiting to kill the man who spoilt his sister's life. No one can forget Nagesh  as an office clerk with a hamper, for carrying his child along with his meal box, to office every day in Balachander's 'Iru Kodugal'. Like a waste paper thrown by the wind from one spot to the other, Nagesh was found, being shunted from one friend to another in' Punnagai' and as an orphan called Maadhu,he brought as much tears as laughter in 'Ethir Neechal'.One did not know whether to laugh at his pranks or sympathize with his terminal illness in 'Neerkumizhi', because he was both the cause and relief of tragic intensity in 'Neerkumizhi'.
    Nagesh was a robust rickshaw puller in 'Poova Thalaiya' casually throwing challenges to his rich mother-in-law and winning over her with manly grit mixing the events with humour  and enthusiasm in right proportion. Similarly, in 'Anubavi Raja Anubavi',in a dual role a rib tickling comedy show was let out by Nagesh. Again in 'Bama Vijayam' as the youngest son of T'S Balaiah he provided a lot of comedy moments joining his other two brothers Muthuraman and Major Sundarajan,  with their exclusively independent agenda of trying to establish a personal rapport with Bama a popular actress. Incidentally,all the films mentioned in this paragraph, were from K.Balachander's  intelligent creative brain and one could see the Nagesh- Balachander combination making success stories of different kinds.The other two movies in their combination were,'Navagraham' and 'Patham Pasali'
    Nagesh performed his different roles with his innate comedy dynamics.Though there were other heroes in his films, the presence of Nagesh could be seen as an energizing source, activating the course of events as a centrifugal force.Besides his clear voice throw Nagesh  possessed a natural ability to dance. Though he had fervently shown his dancing verve in films like 'Adhe Kanlgal','Anbe Va' and several other films, the one choreography he did in 'Neerkumizhi' still lives in my memory elevating the immortal actor to the level of a professional dancer.
     Unlike other comedians, who had a skit with humour and its interrelated segments as the core items on their acting agenda, Nagesh was a ready made talent, whose thespian paraphernalia was a folder of emotional varieties that could make  a comedian,a hero, a character actor and a comical or crude villain. Starting from MGR,Nagesh  has acted with all prominent heroes of his days as well as, with those belonging to his next generation.
   As a character actor in the role of a drunken poet making angry cries against poverty and social evils  Nagesh  made a sterling performance in 'Unakkaga Naan'.As a poverty stricken poet Dharumi, laid up with an acute want of money that made him fall a prey to plagiarism,this fantastic actor beautifully brought before us the plight and ordeal of that character in a most memorable role in 'Thiruvilaiyadal'. It was a scene of exhilaration and empathy he created by his marvellous portrayal as Dharumi.  His other brilliant role was that of the father of a criminal son in 'Padikkadhavan'.Nagesh enjoyed the privilege of acting as a make up man aiding the comical impersonation of Kamal in Avvai Shanmugi and earlier, that of Rajini in 'Thillumullu' Later as a loving father disappointed to know that his son was not a doctor but a thug, he was emotionally compact in Kamal's 'Vasool Raja MBBS'. Nagesh was also a sweet  grandfather  ever juvenile in spirit in films like' Poove Unakkaga',Poovellaam Un Vaasam', 'Minnale',and 'Saravana'.His inebriate revelry with Simbu in 'Saravana'  was a treat to watch.
    Nagesh was ever a perfect foil to his comedy team mates like Cho Ramasamy [Then Mazhai and Ninaivil Ninraval in particular] V.K.Ramasamy [ especially Vasantha Maaligai] A.Veerappan [Ponnu Mappille] and M.R.R.Vasu [Halo Partner].One of his best comedy performances was as T'S'Balaiah's son Chellappa in 'Kaadhalikka Neramilaai',the all time great comedy of Sridhar. Nagesh adorned that character  with his dreams of making a movie under the banner of his Oho Productions.The most interesting scene in that film was Nagesgh narrating a horror scene in his proposed film,to his father,whom he continued to pester for funds.The way he tried to narrate the story thrusting the element of horror and the way Balaiah responded to his narration are stuck to the memory of those who saw the film, as a monumental piece of hilarity. The other remarkable comedy performances of Nagesh were in K.S.Gopalakrishnan's 'Sinnajiru Ulagam' 'Panama Paasama' and 'Kankanda Deivam'.
     Nagesh could spontaneously generate villainy with mischief as lanky Vaidhy in Thillaanaa Mohanambal resembling 'the lean and hungry looking' Cassius of Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar' He could make his villainy a comic affair as in 'Adhisiappiravi' and 'Mounam Sammatham' and transform himself into a murderous villain in 'Aboorva Sagotharargal'. He was also a side kick of villains as we saw him with Thilakan, in 'Bala'.
   Though Nagesh  was lean and feeble in looks, he was stout as a storehouse of acting.He did not shoot into fame on a single day.He was found growing everyday learning and performing new dimensions in acting that took him to taller levels of histrionics.It was his stable acting spirit that retained him as the most wanted actor at all times.The very fact that he was the favourite of creative brains like Balachander and Kamalahasan, one the maker of talents and the other the talent incarnation,shows that he was made of the extraordinary stuff that would add glorious moments to the stage and the larger screen. Nagesh  like many other trend setting Tamil screen actors is no more now.But his vivacious acting style and versatility of character personification have become the timeless treasures of the tinsel world. Nagesh  was one among the rare category of actors who would neither get tired of acting nor would make the audience get tired of his acting.


  1. Wonderful post on a versatile actor. One performance that you left out was his role in Magalir Mattum.