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Nagesh The Great

Posted by Sathyamurthy www.sathyamurthy.com on June 28, 2007

A felicitation to the very versatile comedy and charcter artiste of Tamil Cinema

Of versatility that’€™s timeless


The Kamaraj Hall, Chennai, reverberated with the adulation and respect actor Nagesh commands.

Photo: M.Karunakaran

Recognition for an actor nonpareil: At the function in honour of Nagesh.

Doyens decorated the dais at Kamaraj Hall on the evening of Sunday last. The occasion -€” a celebration in honour of the inimitable comedian, hero and character actor, Nagesh! With M.S.Viswanathan helming the proceedings, the event was graced by Kamal Haasan, Cho, lyricist Vaali, P.B.Sreenivos, directors €˜Chitralaya€™ Gopu, K. Balachander, Mrs. YGP, C.V.Rajendran and Vasanth -€” all ardent fans of the actor whose versatility transcends time! The light music troupe, Ganesh Kripa, presented a host of rare melodies filmed on Nagesh, on the occasion organised by Abbas/Sri Guru Kripa. ARS, the emcee, in typical style recalled interesting details about Nagesh in his prime.

It was a mutual admiration society of sorts on stage, because each was an achiever in his own right. While everyone extolled the potential of Nagesh, he on his part revealed his fascination for Kamal Haasan’s multi-faceted cinema skills. “I can never forget K. Balaji who fed me for three years and did his utmost to get me a break, he began. €˜Chitralaya€™ Gopu recalled the skinny young man, who had accompanied actor Balaji to meet director Sridhar. Soon €˜Nenjil Or Aalayam€™ happened. €˜All that€™s fine. But why am I not able to go beyond the Rs. 501 advance? Like the 501 detergent soap bar, I’m stuck with the number,€™ he would tell me. I’€™d reply that his time would come. It did and how! Gopu remarked. Because, as Vaali pointed out, there came a time when Nagesh was working round-the-clock and even MGR and Sivaji Ganesan had to wait for his dates, as distributors insisted that Nagesh was an indispensable value-addition to the projects. €œThe only picture you can find in Kamal’s room is that of himself with Nagesh. He reveres him so,€ Vaali, who had shared a room with Nagesh in their struggling days, observed.

Witty responses

€œTrue,€ said Kamal. €œI watch his films seriously. I’€™m so much in awe that I forget to laugh. Such is my admiration. It’s not jealousy — only complete surrender to this great talent. €˜Crazy Mohan, a few other friends and I celebrate Nagesh almost every day at my office. In fact we go on about €˜Chitralaya Gopu’€™s sense of humour too. Hindi film actor Mehmood once told me, he considers Nagesh his guru, whereas Amitabh gave Mehmood a similar status. So you see where the root actually is? he smiled.

€œNagesh stands as a lucid example of the fact that those who follow my advice can never make a mark in life, were Cho’€™s characteristic words. €œWhen he wanted to quit his job in the Railways and strive to get into cinema full time, I told him it was a risky move. But how judicious it turned out to be!

You may cry yourself hoarse, but greatness in this part of the country continues to remain mostly unrecognised. That the Padma Sri eludes extraordinary talents such as Nagesh, is a gross omission. But none who can redress matters seems to be concerned. Balachander, who helped Nagesh traverse histrionic domains far beyond the comedy roles he played, said the wrong should be righted. Yet why give it so much importance? The man has carved a formidable niche for himself as one who has regaled filmgoers with his perfect sense of timing in dialogue, and his superb portrayal of a wide spectrum of characters. The huge gathering at the hall exemplified it enough. Now the thespian has reached a stage where laurels from quarters without are absolutely immaterial!

€œThis will be an unforgettable day in my life,€ concluded a moved Nagesh. The evening will remain evergreen in our minds too!


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