CHENNAI: As a comedian, whose very sight evoked laughter, as a hero, whose not-so-dashing looks could itself lead to a success in 'Server Sundaram', as a villain or the slimy accomplice to villains such as in 'Thillana Mohanambal', or as an able character artiste who lent every character its worth, actor Nagesh scored.
While his role as a comedian - slapstick or dialogue-oriented - might have been his most popular face, Nagesh’s genius lay in the effortless manner in which he could don different roles.
It was this recognition that rendered Tamil cinema in loss, on hearing the actor’s death. Nagesh had kept his acting to a bare minimum since his health condition deteriorated a few years ago, but he was quite popular even with today’s generation.
If TV and CDs popularised his antics in films of yesteryears, his roles in films such as 'Avvai Shanmugi', 'Pancha Thanthiram', 'Saravana', 'Nammavar', and most recently 'Dasavathaaram', showed that the Nagesh magic hadn’t waned.
“He was a big inspiration for me, just like how Sivaji sir is. There has not been a day when I’ve not spoken about Nagesh sir. His death is a personal loss for me,” said actor Kamal Haasan, who was largely responsible for Nagesh’s final innings as an actor, in the last two decades.
The actor had teamed up with Nagesh in films 'Magalir Mattum', 'Nammavar', 'Pancha Thanthiram', 'Dasaavathaaram', 'Avvai Shanmugi' and 'Vasool Raja MBBS'. “He has made us laugh all his life. He was a great comedy actor but he was not just that. He has donned so many roles, including the one that we find him now in,” the actor said, perhaps referring to the role of a corpse that Nagesh did in Kamal’s 'Magalir Mattum'.
Actress Manorama, who has done over 200 films with Nagesh, was visibly moved and said a sense of loss gripped her. “His death is an end of a great era. Nagesh is irreplaceable. There’s nobody today to do the gamut of roles that he single handedly tried, from the 60s until today,’ she said.
Rajinikanth, whose first movie 'Aboorva Ragangal', said Nagesh was among India’s most important actors. “Nobody would have slogged in filmdom the way Nagesh sir has. I pray for his soul to rest in peace,” he said.
Even today every time a comedian tries to launch himself as a hero, the question - if he would manage both successfully like Nagesh did?- does creep in.
For instance, recently when the news of 'Kadhalikka Neramillai’s remake was announced, every lip had one question that went unanswered: Who can actually do Nagesh’s role at least the way he did, if not better?
CM, JAYA CONDOLE: Leaders of several political parties, including Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, expressed their condolences over the death of veteran actor Nagesh (76) on Saturday.
Karunanidhi said that Nagesh had carved a niche for himself in Tamil films with his versatile acting, particularly in comic roles. He added that the late actor had shared a personal bond with him.
AIADMK chief and former actor J Jayalalithaa, who had acted in many films with Nagesh, said, “He has made crores of fans happy with his comedy. He was not only a comedian but acted in many roles such as hero, character actor, villain and many others with great talent. His loss is a great one for the film industry and one that cannot be replaced. The country has lost a great person.”
State Congress president K V Thangkabalu said that although Nagesh played comedy roles his screen presence was equal to that of the film’s hero.
CPM’s state committee also expressed condolences.