As news of actor Vivekh’s death spread through social media this morning, a phantasmagoria of his many performances ran wild in my memory. Some of those reels moved at a brisk pace, some lingered a bit longer – his roles in Kushi, Minnale, Dhill, Anniyan – but there were 3 performances that kept appearing time and again: his comedy track in Run, his mature demeanour as Mangalam sir in Boys and his more recent casting against type in Vellai Pookal.
Vivekh as Mohan in Run was my introduction to this talent powerhouse. While his track ran tangential to the actual plot, when I revisit the movie, it has almost always been for his portions and I am sure those are the portions that have stayed vivid in public memory. His interaction with a variety of characters as he searches for his friend is a movie plot in itself. The flashbacks of his banter with his father are just comedic gold.
Mangalam Sir from Boys was the role that made Vivekh endearing to the youth of the time. He was playing a funny part in the movie, but his character was beyond just comic relief and an integral part of the proceedings. Who would not want a companion like him for drunk advice on girls or the more sober lessons on life in general? Me and my friends in college have played the ‘spot the Mangalam Sir’ game in many drinking holes.
While his career is a testament to the successful comedian he was, Vellai Pookal brought out the actor in him like no movie before it had. The restraint of Rudhran from Vellai Pookal is in sharp contrast to all his previous characters. He is older as well, having been freed from the shackles of playing the hero’s friend or the sidekick, and the actor is on full display here. It is a role where he does not have the crutches of witty dialogues or eccentric expressions. Playing a retired cop who has put the uniform to rest but not the instincts associated with it, Rudhran goes on a Sherlock-esque journey in America. Apart from the investigative skills, the other traits of Rudhran were instantly relatable. From the collegemate and drinking companion, he had graduated to the old neighbourhood uncle. The one who would immediately be out of place in our fast-paced lifestyles and fleeting relationships. Someone whose cautionary tales on cutting down on partying or slowing down on the highway you would brush off as an old man’s bickering but look back at with fondness at a later stage in life when better sense prevails.
Apart from his long list of performances that brought smiles to generations, and his social work, Vivekh’s legacy reflects in the fact that for many, the loss feels personal. It extends beyond the hashtags that trend on social media when someone popular pass away. This feels like a death closer home, like the jovial neighbourhood uncle has passed away. Someone who would be the life of social gatherings, reprimanding youngsters for their behaviour (or just their existence), while also sliding in a wisecrack or two.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.