CHENNAI: The man who made an instant mark in tinsel town after portraying the nefarious don and dad of Sandhya in Kadhal (2004), Dhandapani, passed away after suffering a massive heart attack on Sunday morning. He was staying at a rented flat in Saligramam and at 5:45 am, he had woken his helper and said that he had very bad chest pain. Not wanting to wait for an ambulance, the two of them got into their car and drove to Vijaya Hospital, but Dhandapani collapsed on the way there. Hospital sources said that they attempted to revive him but he was finally pronounced dead at 6:12 am.
To add to the shock, the 71-year-old had only just wrapped up shooting for Sarath Kumar’s film Sandamarutham at a set erected in Tiruverkadu, on Saturday night - and he had seemed perfectly fine then. “For some reason, he had asked that his portion in the film be completed in four days and because of that they went at full speed and just about completed the shots by Saturday. Sarath was shocked when he heard the news this morning,” said a source. The actor rushed to the hospital and when he saw Dhandapani’s body, he wept and even kissed him on the cheek - a rare public display of affection from the AISMK founder.
Till the age of 61, Dhanda-pani had no interest in acting and had been a successful businessman in a village near Dindigul, until Balaji Sakthivel (who directed Kadhal) chanced upon him. “The director observed how Dhandapani was like a real don in his business mannerisms in real life, so he persuaded him to take up the role,” said one of Dhandapani’s assistants. His body was taken by road to his ancestral home in Dindigul by 10.30 am. He is survived by three sons and a daughter.
After Kadhal became a runaway hit, Dhandapani found that the movie’s name was prefixed to his, and instant recognition was his. Since then he has done character roles in over 150 films in Telugu, Malayalam and Tamil.