Vivekh, a socially-conscious humourist departs

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Express News Service

CHENNAI: We never worry about the mortality of seemingly omnipresent artistes like Vivekh. We don’t consider the possibility that some day, they may not be around to invoke laughter or incite thought in Vivekh’s case, it ought to be ‘invoke laughter and incite thought’. For the last three decades or so of Tamil cinema, Vivekh has been a ubiquitous presence.

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1961 — 2021

He has enlivened our films with his socially-conscious comedy, and weaponised his humour against public issues like corruption, poor governance, casteism, superstition… Let’s remember that he began doing this at a time when the word ‘woke’ had not yet been ascribed with the meaning of social alertness. Vivekh has also been a charismatic presence as an actor, bringing to his serious characters like in Boys, Sivaji, Alaipayuthey a rare vulnerability that even some top actors fail to register.

Last year’s Dharala Prabhu, among Vivekh’s last films, was a fitting example of his impressive range as an actor, and his ability to play a good man so well that you would rather that the hero fall in harm’s way, not him. He was whatever cinema needed him to be: The track comedian who would be a necessary distraction from the serious hero, the wellmeaning friend quipping witticisms, the selfless guide, or occasionally, even a protagonist. This is why as Tamil cinema evolved, and many actors and comedians got left behind, Vivekh continued to be relevant.

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As a new era of stars got ushered in and then, another who should stand along them, taunting and supporting in equal measure, but the enduring Vivekh? The actor will be remembered as a man with the laugh of a child, as a comedian who inspired us to laugh so. In the self-serving world of cinema, his work aimed at changing the world for the better. And quite fascinatingly, when films seemed to take themselves too seriously, he was there, a force of balance, to lighten things up. This was a humourist who desired positive change but never at the expense of mirth. 

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