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Actor Nagesh is no more

Special Correspondent

— File photo: R. Ragu

Actor Nagesh during an interaction at his residence in Chennai.

CHENNAI: The Tamil film industry’s longstanding comedian and character artist Nagesh died following a heart attack here on Saturday morning.

The veteran of more than 500 films was 76 and is survived by three sons, including actor Anand Babu.

Known only by his screen name Nagesh, he was born Gunddu Rao to Kannadiga parents in 1933.

He left home as a youngster, determined to return only when he made a name for himself, according to film industry sources. His destination was Chennai, where initially he took up a job with the Railways.

However, he felt — it turned out right in retrospect — that he had not met his calling yet. Theatre, or acting, was to be his first and final love, and the first steps, as is common in the Tamil film industry, were on stage.

Be it the poverty-stricken Dharumi in Thiruvilayadal, Server Sundaram, the intrepid storyteller/film director in Kadhalikka Neramillai, or Vaithy in Thillana Mohanambal, Nagesh gave Tamil cinema some of its memorable vintage comedy scenes. Along with legendary directors of the era, K. Balachander and Sridhar, Nagesh ruled the roost in comedy on screen during the 1960s and 1970s.

His career spanned several decades, across successive generations of heroes and directors. While there is no doubt about his contribution to comedy, his fans recall his ability to play serious roles evocatively, as in Neer Kumuzhi and Ethir Neechal.

The entire film fraternity paid tributes to the departed actor at his Alwarpet residence.

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