CHENNAI: Tamil film actor Vivek died in a Chennai hospital in the early hours of Saturday. He was 59. Vivek was admitted to SIMS Hospital in Vadapalani where he underwent an angioplasty and stenting procedure on Friday for a complete block in a critical blood vessel of the heart. He was put on an ECMO support in the intensive care unit. “He passed away at 4.35am,” a medical bulletin from the hospital said.
The 59-year-old actor was brought to the emergency room of the hospital in an unconscious condition around 11am on Friday by his wife and daughter after he complained of discomfort.
Hospital vice-president Dr Raju Sivasamy said the sudden attack was due to an acute coronary syndrome with a cardiogenic shock. It was not related to the Covid-19 vaccine he took on Thursday, they said. Test and CT reports showed that he did not have Covid-19. This was the first time that the actor had come to hospital with an attack like this, Dr Sivasamy said. Vivek had a “mild elevated blood pressure.”
On Thursday, the actor was declared as state’s ambassador for creating public health messages. He took the Covaxin in Tamil Nadu Government Multi Super Speciality Hospital in Chennai and urged many others to come forward to take the vaccine.
The director featured Vivek in his next film – “Puthu Puthu Arthangal,” as well. Vivek made his mark as a comedy actor in this film, where he repeatedly uttered the dialogue – “Innikki Setthaa, Nalaiku Paal” (pointing to a ritual that happens a day after the cremation).
There was no looking back for his acting career since then, even though he took a few years to establish himself as a solo comedian. His career flourished since the late 90s and stayed steady for almost the next two decades.
He was known for his sharp tongue, timing sense and ability to mimic others. Leading heroes, including Rajinikanth, offered Vivek enough screen space to shine. His roles in films like “Run,” “Perazhagan,” “Dhool,” “Anniyan” and “Sivaji” became very popular among the hundreds of roles he played over three decades. He was even cast as a hero in the Tamil film “Solli Adippen,” but the film never saw the light of the day.
With his penchant for social reforms, he highlighted the perils of the society including girl child infanticide (a practice that prevailed in south Tamil Nadu), caste clashes and religious superstitions.
“Even if thousand Periyars are born here, you people cannot be changed,” – was one of his famous dialogues, while drawing the social reformist E V Ramasamy (popularly known as Periyar) for support.
Vivek was popularly called “Chinna Kalaivanar” for his penchant on social reforms in his dialogues — something that yesteryear star and comedian N S Krishnan, who was known as Kalaivanar, did in the late 40s and 50s.
Vivek was awarded the Padma Shri in 2009 by the central government.
Vivek had also developed a close bonding to the principles of A P J Abdul Kalam and highlighted them through his roles. Vivek called on Kalam when the latter was the President of India. Kalam advised him to propagate the need for a green movement and growing more trees. Soon, Vivek started a movement to plant a billion trees across Tamil Nadu by reaching out to students and the society at large.
Vivek leaves behind his wife and two daughters. His son died a few years ago after suffering from dengue and brain fever.