Vijayaraj Alagarswami (born 25 August 1952), better known by his stage name Vijayakanth, is an Indian politician and former film actor who has worked predominantly in Tamil cinema. He was the Leader of the Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly from 2011 to 2016. Before coming into politics Vijayakanth was a film actor, producer and director. Vijayakanth is also the current DMDK chairman of Tamil Nadu legislative assembly. He is the founder and general secretary of the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) Political party and served as a Member of Legislative Assembly twice representing the constituency of Virudhacalam & Rishivandiyam respectively.
Vijayakanth in 2015
|Leader of the Opposition in Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly|
16 May 2011 – 22 May 2016
|Chief Minister||J. Jayalalithaa|
|Preceded by||J. Jayalalithaa|
|Succeeded by||M. K. Stalin|
|Member of Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly|
13 May 2006 – 15 May 2011
|Chief Minister||M. Karunanidhi|
|Preceded by||R. Govindasamy|
|Succeeded by||V. Muthukumar|
|General Secretary of Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam|
|Assumed office |
14 September 2005
|Preceded by||Position established|
|President of South Indian Artistes' Association|
|Preceded by||Radha Ravi|
|Succeeded by||R. Sarathkumar|
25 August 1952
Madurai, Madras State, India
(present-day Tamil Nadu)
|Political party||Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam|
|Relatives||L. K. Sudhish (nephew)|
|Residence||54, Saligramam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India|
Vijayakanth is one of very few Tamil politicians and actors in political drama to have acted only in Tamil movies throughout his career, though his movies have been dubbed into Telugu and Hindi. He is also known for portraying a village do-gooder and double roles acting in his films. He has acted in more than 20 films as a police officer. By far the most times by any actor of his time in Tamil cinema to have donned the khaki in movies. His first film was Inikkum Ilamai (1979) where he played an antagonist. His subsequent films Agal Vilakku (1979), Neerottam (1980) and Saamanthippoo (1980) are followed box-office flops. He then had success with Sattam Oru Iruttarai (1981), directed by S. A. Chandrasekhar; most of his movies are with him. He was nicknamed "Captain" after the movie Captain Prabhakaran (1991), his 100th film.
1979 to 1989: Early careerEdit
Vijayakanth was cast in Inikkum Ilamai (1979), his first film where he played an antagonist, which was directed by M. A. Kaja. His second release was Annakili Selvaraj directed Agal Vilakku paired opposite Shoba, which was his first film as the lead. His film Doorathu Idi Muzhakkam (1980), screened at the Indian Panorama of the International Film Festival of India. The next, Sattam Oru Iruttarai (1981), directed by S. A. Chandrasekhar was successful. His career took off and was remade in Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada languages. After this film, Vijayakanth became one of the leading actors of Tamil cinema. He has played villain role in Om Shakti (1982) but after that never portrayed negative characters in his career. He acted in various hits such as Vaidhegi Kaathirunthaal (1984). In that year, Vijayakanth had 18 releases in Tamil, this is a record and he is the only actor in Tamil cinema who has released all his films as one year in the lead role. He acted in Annai Bhoomi 3D (1985), the first 3D film made in the Tamil film industry where he acted alongside Radha Ravi and Kannada actor Tiger Prabhakar. He co-starred with Kannada superstar actor Vishnuvardhan and Tamil actor Sathyaraj in Eetti (1985). The romantic comedy movie Naane Raja Naane Mandhiri (1985), in which he is a self-centered egoistic village Zamindar, who makes fun of people was a commercial success.  He acted in Amman Kovil Kizhakale (1986), which earned a Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil. He also acted in Manakanakku (1986), "the only film where Kamal Haasan and Vijayakanth worked together till date", followed by Oomai Vizhigal (1986). It was one of the trendsetters of 1980s Tamil cinema, portraying, unusually, the role of an aged cop. Though he had little screen time in this multi-starrer, he gave a powerful performance. He co-starred with legendary Tamil film actor Sivaji Ganesan in Veerapandiyan (1987), followed by Cooliekkaran (1987), Veeran Veluthambi (1987), Ninaive Oru Sangeetham (1987), Sattam Oru Vilayaattu (1987) and Uzhavan Magan (1987). He worked in movies such as Therkathi Kallan (1988) and Poonthotta Kaavalkaaran (1988), which earned him a Cinema Express Award for Best Actor – Tamil. Senthoora Poove (1988), which won him a Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor. He also starred in two other hit films that year Paattukku Oru Thalaivan (1989) and Ponmana Selvan (1989), followed by the crime movie Rajanadai (1989) and the devotional film Meenakshi Thiruvilayadal (1989) at the end of the year.
1990 to 1999: Action filmsEdit
Vijayakanth acted in several films in the 1990s including Pulan Visaranai (1990), loosely based on the life of notorious serial killer Auto Shankar, had R. Sarathkumar portraying the antagonist. Directed by R. K. Selvamani, this film was considered to be one of the best crime thrillers of its time. At the end of the year, he acted in Sathriyan (1990), produced by Mani Ratnam, about an honest cop and a corrupt politician. This can be easily termed as Vijayakanth's best attempt at the cop role amongst the innumerable times he donned the khakhi. After the success of Pulan Visaranai (1990), Rowther decided to make another project with Vijayakanth and director R. K. Selvamani, titled Captain Prabhakaran (1991). It was Vijayakanth's 100th film, after which he earned the nickname "captain". He is the only actor from his period to have tasted a jubilee box-office hit on his 100th film and joined the list of actors, namely M. G. Ramachandran, Sivaji Ganeshan and Jayalalithaa. The film was a commercial success upon its release, followed by Maanagara Kaaval (1991) and Moondrezhuthil En Moochirukkum (1991). Vijayakanth worked in movies such as Chinna Gounder (1992). This film was radically different from Vijayakanth's earlier portrayals, as he was donning the role of a soft-spoken village chieftain. The film is remembered for Vijayakanth's underplay. This film was ranked third in Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Film, followed by Bharathan (1992), Thai Mozhi (1992), where he made a special appearance and Kaviya Thalaivan (1992), a drama film which was his last of the year. He co-starred with the son of the director S. A. Chandrasekhar, Vijay in Sendhoorapandi (1993), where Vijayakanth plays the role of elder brother and was Vijay's first ever hit film. Vijayakanth was the main lead for which he did not take any remuneration. He starred in Sethupathi IPS (1994), directed by P. Vasu, followed by Honest Raj (1994), Pathavi Pramanam (1994), En Aasai Machan (1994) and Periya Marudhu (1994). He acted in Karuppu Nila (1995), Thirumoorthy (1995) and Gandhi Pirantha Mann (1995), that failed at the box office. He acted in an action film Thayagam (1996), which won a Tamil Nadu State Film Award Special Prize. This was followed by Tamizh Selvan (1996), a political film and Alexander (1996), an action film. He starred in Dharma Chakkaram (1997), an action drama film directed by K. S. Ravikumar. He acted in his 125th film Ulavuthurai (1998), followed by Dharma (1998) and Veeram Vilanja Mannu (1998). He acted in Kallazhagar (1999), and co-starred with Suriya in Periyanna (1999). He starred in Kannupada Poguthaiya (1999), produced by R. B. Choudary.
2000 to 2009: Experimentation rolesEdit
Vijayakanth had three releases, Vaanathai Pola directed by Vikraman (2000) which won two awards; a Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Film of the year and National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment. Following by Vallarasu (2000) and Simmasanam (2000). After this year, he still played in action movies such as Vaanchinathan (2001) and Narasimha (2001). Then came Viswanathan Ramamoorthy (2001), in which he made a cameo appearance and Thavasi (2001). All these films received mixed reviews from critics at the box office. He acted in Raajjiyam (2002) and Devan (2002), co-starring with the actor and directed by Arun Pandian. Karthik played the pivotal role as a guest appearance . These three actors gather after their 1986 film, Oomai Vizhigal. The next year, Ramanaa (2002) directed by AR Murugadoss was Vijayakanth's last major hit film, which won him a Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Film of the year. He had two releases, Chokka Thangam (2003), a drama film and Thennavan (2003), a political film that became average grossers at the box office. He acted in three movies Engal Anna (2004), a comedy film which for years was a successful, but Gajendra (2004) and Neranja Manasu (2004) have been released to negative reviews. Later, he had a special appearance in Suriya's film Maayavi (2005) as himself . He acted in three action movies, Sudesi (2006), Perarasu (2006) and Dharmapuri (2006). The next year, he starred in Sabari (2007). His 150th film was Arasangam (2008), about a police officer who discovers and unravels the mystery behind a terrorist gang plotting to steal information about the growth of the Indian economy, set in Chennai and Toronto. He acted in Mariyadhai (2009), in the second film with director Vikraman, after Vaanathai Pola. He acted in Engal Aasan (2009), where he co-starred with Vikranth, the cousin of actor Vijay.
2010 to 2015: Latest projects and endEdit
He acted and directed the film, Virudhagiri (2010), a remake of the French movie Taken. After five years without films, he made a cameo appearance with his son, the first movie of actor Shanmugapandian in Sagaptham (2015). In November 2015, he came back to acting to feature in Arun Ponnambalam's Thamizhan Endru Sol, alongside his son, Shanmuga Pandian, the second film with him. The film began production during November 2015, and has been temporarily suspended owing to the upcoming TN Assembly elections. In the meantime, he celebrated 40 years in Tamil cinema. He is the only actor to have done 150 films in Tamil.
- Doorathu Idi Muzhakkam (1980)
- Sattam Oru Iruttarai (1981)
- Nooravathu Naal (1984)
- Vaidehi Kathirunthal (1984)
- Annai Bhoomi 3D (1985)
- Naane Raja Naane Mandhiri (1985)
- Amman Kovil Kizhakale (1986)
- Oomai Vizhigal (1986)
- Cooliekkaran (1987)
- Ninaive Oru Sangeetham (1987)
- Sattam Oru Vilayaattu (1987)
- Uzhavan Magan (1987)
- Therkathi Kallan (1988)
- Poonthotta Kaavalkaaran (1988)
- Nallavan (1988)
- Senthoora Poove (1988)
- Paattukku Oru Thalaivan (1989)
- Ponmana Selvan (1989)
- Pulan Visaranai (1990)
- Chatriyan (1990)
- Captain Prabhakaran (1991)
- Maanagara Kaaval (1991)
- Chinna Gounder (1992)
- Bharathan (1992)
- Sethupathi IPS (1994)
- Honest Raj (1994)
- En Aasai Machan (1994)
- Thayagam (1996)
- Ulavuthurai (1998)
- Kannupada Poguthaiya (1999)
- Vaanathai Pola (2000)
- Vallarasu (2000)
- Ramanaa (2002)
- Engal Anna (2004)
- Arasangam (2008)
- Viruthagiri (2010)
Awards and recognitionsEdit
- 1986 – Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil for Amman Kovil Kizhakale
- 1988 – Cinema Express Award for Best Actor – Tamil for Poonthotta Kaavalkaaran
- 1988 – Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor for Senthoora Poove
- 1994 – Tamil Nadu State Film Honorary Award (MGR Award)
- 1996 – Tamil Nadu State Film Award Special Prize for Thayagam
- 2000 – Cinema Express Best Actor Award for Vaanathaippola
- 2001 – Kalaimamani Award from the Government of Tamil Nadu
- 2001 – Best Indian Citizen Award by Citizens of India forum
- 2001 – Best Tamil Citizen Award by Mayor of Houston U.S.A
- 2009 – Filmfare Top 10 Legends of Tamil Cinema Award
- 2011 – Honorary doctorate
He formed the center-left party Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), a regional political party in Tamil Nadu. He formally announced the party's formation on 14 September 2005 in Madurai. His party contested in all seats in 2006 assembly elections and won one seat contested by him. The DMDK, led by Vijaykanth, proved to be an important player in the 2006 Tamil Nadu assembly election, garnering 10% of the voters and securing 10.1% in this Lok Sabha election. According to the study, it secured more votes than the winning margins of candidates in about 25 constituencies. In 2006, polling showed that DMDK was able to get more DMK votes than AIADMK votes, but in this election, they were able to wrestle more Congress voters from 2004 than any another party. Contrary to the claim of many in the AIADMK camp blaming DMDK for the defeat, there is no evidence for this to be true. Vijayakanth has declared that he would not ask donations for his party, and most of the funding for the party comes from his own pocket. He has so far rejected alliances with other political parties. In a by-election to Madurai Central assembly constituency, DMDK secured around 17000 votes, which is just 2000 votes less than AIADMK. DMDK was also able to secure a significant number of seats in Local Body elections.
Leader of the official opposition, 2011Edit
In the 2011 election, held on 13 April 2011, he formed an alliance with All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and contested in 41 constituencies. His party saw phenomenal success by winning 29 of the 41 seats it contested. Notably, DMDK won more seats than the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). Vijayakanth occupied the position of MLA for the second time, winning the Rishivandhiyam constituency. Cho Ramaswamy encouraged Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) to forge an alliance with AIADMK. DMDK launched a vigorous campaign to defeat DMK; it made a resolution to call all parties to come together to defeat the ruling DMK in a conference held in Salem on 8 January, presided over by its leader Vijayakanth. S. Ramadoss, leader of Pattali Makkal Katchi, expressed his dissatisfaction with people from the film industry ruling Tamil Nadu since 1967. He also urged voters not to vote for Vijayakanth with his long career as a Tamil actor.
Following the election, Jayalalithaa and Vijayakanth had fiery exchanges in the assembly that started the rift between the two parties. Due to this reason, Vijayakanth got separated from AIADMK. In the 2014 parliament elections, DMDK forged an alliance with BJP, a non-DMK and non-ADMK alliance of parties such as MDMK, PMK, IJK, and other small parties. PM Modi giving special reference to him in the NDA leaders meet and referred him as his friend. DMDK Leader Vijayakanth lost his position as Leader of Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly as eight of his MLAs handed over their resignations to the speaker of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly.
He lost both his seat and deposit in the 2016 election. A two-time MLA (2006 and 2011), he was contesting from the Ulundurpettai constituency in Tamil Nadu's Vilupuram district. He could manage only 34,447 votes, which saw him finish a distant third. The seat was won by the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's (AIADMK) candidate R. Kumaraguru, who polled 81,973 votes. His nearest rival was the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) candidate G.R. Vasanthavel, who managed 77,809 votes to finish second.
|Elections||Constituency||Party||Result||Vote percentage||Opposition Candidate||Opposition Party||Opposition vote percentage|
|2006 Tamil Nadu state assembly election||Vridhachalam||DMDK||Won||40.49||Govindasamy R.||PMK||31.2|
|2011 Tamil Nadu state assembly election||Rishivandiyam||DMDK||Won||53.19||Sivaraj S.||INC||35.22|
|2016 Tamil Nadu state assembly election||Ulundurpet||DMDK||Lost||15.14||R. Kumaraguru||AIADMK||36.03|
Vijaykanth was born in Madurai. His parents are K. N. Alagarswami and Aandal Azhagarswami. He married Premalatha on 31 January 1990 and had two sons named Vijay Prabhakar and Shanmuga Pandian, the latter being a film actor who made his cinematic debut with Sagaptham in 2014. Upon entering the film industry to pursue an acting career, he changed to "Vijayakanth", dropping the "Raj" out of his name and suffixing it with "Kanth," by director Khaja. He is nicknamed "Captain" which was taken from one of his popular films Captain Prabhakharan.
He founded Shri Andal Alagar College of Engineering in 2001. His wife is the chairperson of this college. On 1 October 2001, Vijayakanth declared that 1 October, which is actor Sivaji Ganesan's birthday, be observed as Actors' Day in Tamil Nadu. In 2001, he was the former president of South Indian Film Artistes' Association and under his presidency, the debts of the association were cleared by organising celebrity shows overseas. Vijayakanth has launched a 24-hour television channel called Captain TV on 14 April 2010.
The media has widely publicized an ongoing dispute between Vijayakanth and comedic actor Vadivelu, who was Vijayakanth's co-star in a number of notable films. On 21 September 2008, Vadivelu's residence, located in Saligramam in Chennai, was pelted with stones by a gang, leaving several windows and furniture damaged. Vadivelu reported that he suspected that it was Vijayakanth's men, because of a court case which he had filed against Vijayakanth for assault, for which the final court hearing was to take place the following day. The attack may have been set up to prevent Vadivelu from attending the hearing. Filing another case for attempted murder against Vijayakanth, Vadivelu mentioned his interest in competing against him in the next assembly elections and "teaching him a lesson." In response, Vijayakanth told a press meet on that Vadivelu's allegations are based on hearsay. During the legislative assembly elections in Tamil Nadu in 2011, Vadivelu vehemently campaigned for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and its alliance. During his public speeches, he predominantly condemned Vijayakanth, whose party, the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), allied with the opposition party All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). In a campaign speech in Tiruvarur, Vadivelu stated that "(his) only aim is to sweep out Vijayakanth's whole team and to campaign vigorously for DMK's victory". Vadivelu was criticized as being biased, only supporting a DMK-led victory for personal gains and not once mentioning the then-official opposition, the AIADMK, or its leader, J. Jayalalitha. In a turn of events, the election was eventually successful for the AIADMK alliance, while Vijayakanth was victorious by a significant margin[quantify] in his own constituency. While speaking at an election campaign meeting in 2016, he criticized Rajinikanth, causing a considerable backlash from supporters of Rajinikanth. He has been criticized for making obscene gestures in public, often towards journalists.
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