CHENNAI: Veteran stage actor and multifaceted television and film personality Visu died in Chennai on Sunday. He was 74. He had been suffering from kidney-related ailments for the last decade. Born Meenakshisundaram Ramasamy Viswanathan in 1945, Visu, as he was popularly known, entered the film industry as an assistant director to K Balachander. An accomplished actor, he wrote several popular films, including the blockbuster Rajinikanth films Netrikann, Thillu Mullu, Nallavanukku Nallavan, and Mr Bharath. Visu made his acting debut in Kudumbam Oru Kadhambam, which was scripted by him and directed by SP Muthuraman.
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Known for his sharp wit and films exploring on social issues, Visu’s evergreen hit, Samsaram Adhu Minsaram (1986) was the first Tamil film to win the National Award for Best popular film. Notably, Visu was also commissioned by the Government of Tamil Nadu to make his 1992 film, Neenga Nalla Irukkanum. Based on prohibition, the film was the last onscreen appearance of then chief minister, J Jayalalithaa. It also won Visu his second National Award for Best Film on Other Social Issues.
Having made his directorial debut with Kanmani Poonga, Visu went on to make iconic films like Manal Kayiru and Penmani Aval Kanmani. Much like his mentor Balachander, Visu was a pioneer of successful, family-friendly films on moderate budgets. Also, he was the primary draw in all his films, rarely relying on stars. Arattai Arangam his long-running debate show on Sun TV saw Visu travel the State debating social issues. He later hosted Visuvin Makkal Arangam on Jaya TV. Visu was last seen in Manal Kayiru 2 (2016), the sequel to his 1982 film. He is survived by his wife and three daughters.