Vijayaraj Alagarswami (25 August 1952 – 28 December 2023), better known by his stage name Vijayakanth, was an Indian actor and politician who worked in Tamil cinema. He acted in over 150 films in his career spanning four decades. He was well known for his performances in Vaidehi Kathirunthal (1984), Amman Kovil Kizhakale (1986), Poonthotta Kaavalkaaran (1988), Senthoora Poove (1988), Pulan Visaranai (1990), Chinna Gounder (1992), Honest Raj (1994), Thayagam (1996) and Vaanathaippola (2000).[5]

Vijayakanth
Vijaykanth in 2015
16th Leader of the Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly
In office
27 May 2011 – 21 February 2016
Chief Minister
Preceded byJ. Jayalalithaa
Succeeded byM. K. Stalin
ConstituencyRishivandiyam
Member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly
In office
23 May 2011 – 21 May 2016
Chief Minister
  • J. Jayalalithaa
  • O. Panneerselvam
Preceded byS. Sivaraj
Succeeded byVasantham K. Karthikeyan
ConstituencyRishivandiyam
In office
29 May 2006 – 14 May 2011
Chief MinisterM. Karunanidhi
Preceded byR. Govindasamy
Succeeded byV. Muthukumar
ConstituencyVriddhachalam
President of the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam
In office
14 September 2005 – 28 December 2023
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
General Secretary of the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam
In office
1 June 2014 – 14 December 2023
PresidentHimself
Preceded byS. Ramu Vasanthan
Succeeded byPremalatha Vijayakanth
President of the South Indian Artistes' Association
In office
2000–2006
Preceded byRadha Ravi
Succeeded byR. Sarathkumar
Personal details
Born
Vijayaraj Alagarswami

(1952-08-25)25 August 1952
Madurai, Madras State, India
Died28 December 2023(2023-12-28) (aged 71)
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Resting placeDMDK Head Quarters, Koyambedu, Chennai
Political partyDMDK
Spouse
Premalatha Vijayakanth
(m. 1990)
Children2
Occupation
  • Actor
  • film director
  • film producer
  • philanthropist
  • politician
Awards
Nicknames
  • Captain
  • Karuppu M.G.R.[2][3]
  • Puratchi Kalaignar[4]

He won two Filmfare Awards South and three Tamil Nadu State Film Awards. He was awarded the Kalaimamani in 2001, the highest civilian award in Tamil Nadu.[6][7] For his role in Senthoora Poove, Vijayakanth won the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor in 1988. In 1996, he was awarded the Tamil Nadu State Film Award Special Prize for his role in Thayagam. He was also the recipient of two Cinema Express Awards and one Filmfare Awards South. Vijayakanth was one of very few Tamil lead actors to have acted only in Tamil films throughout his career. His films have mostly been dubbed into Telugu and Hindi.

He earned several nicknames from fans and co-stars throughout his career. He was nicknamed "Captain" following his 100th film Captain Prabhakaran (1991) and for his transformative leadership as president of the Nadigar Sangam (2000–2006), which, under his presidency, arose from a heavily indebted organisation to a charitable trust that provided benefits and pension to low-income members.[8][9] Vijayakanth has been credited in films with the title "Puratchi Kalaignar" (revolutionary artist) for often appearing in roles as a law enforcer, vigilante, or village head.[10] He was also nicknamed as "Karuppu M. G. R." in recognition for his humanitarian efforts towards impoverished families and supporting struggling actors in Tamil cinema.[11] Vijayakanth was known for his stance on food equality on film sets, demanding that low-wage cast and crew members must be given the same quality meals that he was served.[12] For a few films, he also accepted deferred remuneration to help struggling producers.[13]

He was known for his "open and bold stance" during his political career.[7] After founding the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) in 2005, he served as an MLA twice, representing the constituencies of Virudhachalam and Rishivandiyam respectively from 2006 to 2016. The DMDK saw early success as it won the second-most seats in the 2011 election and Vijayakanth became the leader of the opposition in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, serving until 2016. He remained leader of the DMDK during his health decline and until his death in 2023. In January 2024, he was posthumously awarded India's third-highest civilian honour, the Padma Bhushan, by the Government of India.[14][15]

Early life edit

Vijayakanth was born as Vijayaraj Alagarswami in Madurai on 25 August 1952.[16][17] His parents were K. N. Alagarswami and Aandal Azhagarswami.[18] His father ran a rice mill at Keeraithurai.[19]

His father was apparently worried about Vijayakanth as he showed less attention and less interest towards studies but was more interested in cinema.[20] Vijayakanth grew up idolising M. G. Ramachandran and he displayed his passion towards community and societal issues at a young age.[21] Vijayakanth then went to work in the rice mill owned by his father and surprised him with his administrative skills.[20]

He married Premalatha on 31 January 1990 and had two sons, including Shanmuga Pandian, an actor who starred in Sagaptham (2015) and Madura Veeran (2018).[22][23]

Acting career edit

1979 to 1989: Early career edit

 
Vijayakanth (third from the right) along with his crew during his early film career

Vijayakanth left Madurai to pursue his passion in acting, even though he did not have any cinematic background.[20] In 1978, Vijayakanth engaged in a photo shoot in Rasi Studios located at Madurai (now known as Rasi Digital Studios) with the aim of obtaining a film acting opportunity. The photos which he took at Rasi Studios helped him to garner attention from film industry and it became a turning point in his career.[24] Vijayakanth gave credit and acknowledgment to the chief photographer of Rasi Studios, R. Asaithambi, in a few magazine interviews, indicating that the photographs taken by Asaithambi eventually helped him earn a spot in the film industry.[25]

Vijayakanth was then cast in a supporting role as Rajnikanth's brother in En Kelvikku Enna Bathil (1978) by the director P. Madhavan; he received an advance of Indian Rupees 100 for the film.[26][21]

However, Madhavan later replaced Vijayakanth with Ceylon Manohar for the role as Rajnikanth's brother after the director left unimpressed with Vijayakanth's screen presence.[27][28]

He lost several film opportunities during the early stages of his acting career, as many other filmmakers shunned him, largely due to his dark skin colour.[29][30] He faced further humiliation when many lead actresses, including Raadhika Sarathkumar, Saritha, Ambika and Radha, refused to act with him due to his dark complexion during this initial phase of his career.[31][32]

He changed his name to "Vijayakanth", dropping the "Raj" out of his name and adding the suffix "Kanth", when he made his first film appearance in M. A. Kaja's Inikkum Ilamai (1979).[33] That film was, however, both a critical and financial failure.[34] His subsequent films Agal Vilakku (1979), Neerottam (1980) and Saamanthippoo (1980) were also box-office flops.[35]

His 1980 film Doorathu Idi Muzhakkam was screened at the Indian Panorama of the International Film Festival of India.[35] Doorathu Idi Muzhakkam gave Vijayakanth the limelight and fame as his performance in the film was lauded by viewers and it became a turning point in his illustrious career.[36]

In his formative years Vijayakanth acted in films carrying revolutionary and radical thoughts (including themes of communism and Marxism) such as Sivappu Malli (1981) and Jadhikkoru Needhi (1981).[34] In these films, he portrayed the angry young revolutionist characters.

However the film that launched him as a commercial hero was Sattam Oru Iruttarai (1981), directed by S. A. Chandrasekhar, with whom he collaborated in numerous films thereafter.[37] It was remade in Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada languages.[38] It was only after his success in Sattam Oru Iruttarai, Vaidehi Kathirunthal, and Oomai Vizhigal that top actresses, Raadhika and Radha, decided to work with him.[32]

He then played a villain role in Om Shakti (1982), but after that never portrayed antagonist characters in his films.[39] Most of his films revolved around corruption, honesty and keeping promises.[40] He portrayed a police officer in more than 20 films.[41][5] He was also known for portraying a patriotic, village do-gooder and performing in dual roles in his films.

Slowly he rose to the top through commercial films featuring action, romance, comedy and sentimental themes, including Dowry Kalyanam (1983), Nooravathu Naal (1984) and Vaidhegi Kaathirunthaal (1984).[37] He became the Tamil cinema actor to appear in the most films in a year in the lead role in 1984.[42][35] 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.[43] He co-starred with Kannada superstar actor Vishnuvardhan in Eetti (1985). The romantic comedy Naane Raja Naane Mandhiri (1985) was a commercial success.[44][45]

Vijayakanth went on to act in Amman Kovil Kizhakale (1986), which earned him a Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil; the film ran for 150 days in theatres.[46] He also acted in Manakanakku (1986), the only film in which he worked with Kamal Haasan.

He followed that success with Oomai Vizhigal (1986), which became a cult classic and lauded as a film way ahead of its time.[47][48][49] It portrayed him in an unusual role of an aged cop and elevated him to an indisputable competitor of stalwarts Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan.[50]

In 1987, he co-starred with Sivaji Ganesan in Veerapandiyan, followed by successful movies as Cooliekkaran, Veeran Veluthambi, Ninaive Oru Sangeetham, Sattam Oru Vilayaattu and Uzhavan Magan. Uzhavan Magan (1987) marked the first collaboration between Vijayakanth and his longtime friend Ibrahim Rowther who was a film producer. Ibrahim Rowther decided to lend a helping hand to his friend Vijayakanth by agreeing to produce Uzhavan Magan in order to promote Vijayakanth as a prominent actor in the film industry.[51] On 21 October 1987, Vijayakanth, as the lead actor, had two theatrical releases as both Uzhavan Magan and Sattam Oru Vilayaatu were released on the same day, and coincidentally, both films became blockbusters in the box office. It became one of the rare occasions for any main lead male actor to have two high-profile releases on the same day in theatres.[52]

He received the adjective/title "Puratchi Kalaigner" for his performance in Cooliekkaran (1987) bestowed upon him by the film's producer Kalaipuli S. Thanu.[53] In 1988, he worked in films such as Therkathi Kallan, Nallavan and Poonthotta Kaavalkaaran.[54] In Senthoora Poove, Vijayakanth won a Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor.[9][55] In 1989, he also starred in two other super hit films such as Paattukku Oru Thalaivan and Ponmana Selvan.[56] This followed the crime thriller Rajanadai and the Hindu devotional film Meenakshi Thiruvilayadal.[57]

1990 to 1999: Action roles edit

 
Vijayakanth at a function in 2007

Starting in the 1980s Vijayakanth established himself as an action icon with a consistent box-office appeal. He was best known for low-budget films that showcased gravity-defying stunts in which he would single-handedly dispatch his enemies.[58]

He received the support of film producer and friend Ibrahim Rowther, who played an instrumental role in Vijayakanth's rapid rise as an actor in the mid-1980s and early 1990s. Rowther reportedly assisted Vijayakanth in choosing film scripts wisely in order to reach stardom.[59] The duo established Rowther Films in Arumbakkam with the intention of boosting Vijayakanth's acting career. Rowther produced films starring Vijayakanth, including Uzhavan Magan (1987), Poonthotta Kaavalkaaran (1988), Paattukku Oru Thalaivan (1989), Pulan Visaranai (1990), Captain Prabhakaran (1991), Bharathan (1992), Rajadurai (1993), Sakkarai Devan (1993), En Aasai Machan (1994), Gandhi Pirantha Mann (1995), Karuppu Nila (1995), Ulavuthurai (1998), Dharma (1998) and Simmasanam (2000).[60] Vijayakanth got the sobriquet "Captain" after his 100th film, Captain Prabhakaran (1991).[61][62]

Throughout the 1990s, Vijayakanth also excelled in roles in a variety of films in various genres, though he remained more popular as an action hero in films such as Pulan Visaranai, which featured R. Sarathkumar portraying the antagonist.[63] Directed by R. K. Selvamani, this film was considered to be one of the best Tamil crime thrillers of its time.[64][65]

Vijayakanth starred in the superhit cop flick Sathriyan, produced by Mani Ratnam, about an honest cop and a corrupt politician.[38] After the success of Pulan Visaranai, Rowther decided to start another project with Vijayakanth and director R. K. Selvamani, titled Captain Prabhakaran (1991). It was Vijayakanth's 100th film, after which he earned the sobriquet "Captain" ever since he portrayed an IFS officer.[66][67] He hit jackpot in his 100th film Captain Prabhakaran, which became one of the biggest blockbuster Tamil films for the year 1991, running for over 500 days in the theatres and it be.[62] It had its theatrical release with notable fanfare and it was a commercial success upon its release. Vijayakanth achieved the unique feat of scoring a blockbuster in his 100th film, a feat neither Kamal Haasan nor Rajinikanth achieved in their respective acting careers. After M.G.R, Sivaji Ganesan and Jayalalithaa, he was the only actor to have tasted a silver jubilee hit in his 100th film.[68][69] followed by Maanagara Kaaval (1991) and Moondrezhuthil En Moochirukkum (1991).[5]

Vijayakanth appeared in the role of a village chief in the film Chinna Gounder (1992), which turned out to be an experimental film for Vijayakanth and a cult classic in the following years.[70][71][72] The song "Antha Vaanatha Pola Manam Padaicha Mannavaney" from Chinna Gounder, where Vijayakanth appears walking out of the village with disdain in a sad manner, became popular in rural areas of Tamil Nadu, and it eventually became a meme in the later years.[73]

He also appeared in various roles such as Koyil Kaalai (1993), Ezhai Jaathi (1993), Sakkarai Devan (1993), Rajadurai (1993) and Enga Muthalali (1993). He co-starred with the son of the director S. A. Chandrasekhar, Vijay, in Senthoorapandi (1993), where Vijayakanth plays the role of elder brother.[68] Director SAC thought a film with Vijayakanth would give an impetus to Vijay's film career. Vijayakanth played an extended cameo role in this film for which he did not take any remuneration.[41][74][75] In 1994, he appeared in films including Sethupathi IPS, Honest Raj, Pathavi Pramanam, En Aasai Machan and Periya Marudhu.[76][5] He then acted in Karuppu Nila (1995), Thirumoorthy (1995) and Gandhi Pirantha Mann (1995).

For his performance in the action film Thayagam (1996), he won a Tamil Nadu State Film Award Special Prize.[9] This was followed by Tamizh Selvan and Alexander.[77] In 1997, he appeared in the film Dharma Chakkaram which was directed by K. S. Ravikumar.[78]

He acted in his 125th film Ulavuthurai (1998), followed by Dharma (1998) and Veeram Vilanja Mannu (1998). His following films were Kallazhagar (1999), Periyanna (1999) where he played alongside Suriya.[79] He also starred in R. B. Choudary's production, Kannupada Poguthaiya (1999) under the banner Super Good Films and he shared screenspace with Karan in the main lead role.[80]

2000 to 2009: Experienced roles edit

In 2000s, Vijayakanth continued his success streak with such blockbuster films as Vaanathai Pola, a rural family drama directed by Vikraman, 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.[81][38] This was followed by Vallarasu and Simmasanam.[82] His acting in Vallarasu received widespread attention, highlighting his mission to thwart the efforts of a Pakistani-based terrorist group being assisted by a local politician for his personal gain.[5]

 
Vijayakanth seen with M. Karunanidhi

After this year, he again played in action films such as Vaanchinathan (2001) directed by Shaji Kailas and Narasimha (2001). Narasimha failed to deliver at the box office, but the performances of Vijayakanth were praised for his action hero elements with gravity-defying unrealistic action sequences, and the film became a unique component in Tamil pop culture.[5][83][84] It was reported that Narasimha was a spiritual sequel to Vallarasu.[5]

Then came Viswanathan Ramamoorthy (2001), in which he made a cameo appearance and then he acted in the village drama Thavasi (2001).[85][72]

He then appeared in action film Raajjiyam (2002) but the film ultimately failed to deliver in the box office and it turned out to be a box office bomb.[86]

In 2002, he acted in guest appearance as Rathnavel IPS in Devan, co-starring with the main lead actor of the film Arun Pandian, who also directed.[87] In director AR Murugadoss's Ramanaa, he underplayed as a realistic action hero and gave life to the role of an anti-corruption crusader.[88] He won a Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Film of the year and Ramanaa became commercially successful.[89] In 2003, he had two releases, Chokka Thangam, a family drama and Thennavan, a political film. In 2004, he appeared in a comedy-drama, Engal Anna which was a success,[90] however Gajendra and Neranja Manasu, which were released in the same year, received negative reviews.[91] Later, he did a special appearance in Suriya's film Maayavi (2005).[92] In 2006, he acted in three action films, Sudesi, Perarasu and Dharmapuri which all failed to deliver at the box office and received negative reviews from critics.[93]

The following 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, then Toronto.[94] He acted in the drama Mariyadhai (2009), in the second film with director Vikraman, after Vaanathai Pola followed by the action Engal Aasan (2009),[95] where he co-starred with Vikranth, the cousin of actor Vijay.[96]

2010 to 2015: Later projects edit

Vijayakanth acted and directed the film, Virudhagiri (2010), a remake of the French film Taken.[97][98]

After taking a hiatus of five years without appearing in any films, he made a cameo appearance with his son, the first film of actor Shanmuga Pandian in Sagaptham (2015).[99] In November 2015, he came back to acting in a feature film – Arun Ponnambalam's Thamizhan Endru Sol, alongside his son, Shanmuga Pandian, the second film with him. The film began production during November 2015, and had been temporarily suspended owing to the upcoming Tamil Nadu Assembly elections and the deteriorating health of Vijayakanth.[100] It was revealed that the film was later shelved due to political commitments of Vijayakanth.

Director Vijay Milton attempted to rope in Vijayakanth in a short role for his upcoming directorial venture Mazhai Pidikatha Manithan which he mentioned in around 2022.[101] The film was supposed to have Vijay Antony in the lead role but the plans to bring Vijayakanth on board were stalled due to Vijayakanth's health struggles.[102]

Vijayakanth played in 154 movies and was one of the most adored film personalities in the Tamil industry.[103] He was listed by The Cinemaholic among the top 20 best Tamil actors of all time.[104]

Political career edit

2006–2011 edit

 
DMDK posters seen in Thanjavur

He formed the centre-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.[105][106] 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.[107] 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 other party. Contrary to the claim of many in the AIADMK camp blaming DMDK for the defeat, there was no evidence for this to be true.[108] Vijayakanth declared that he would not ask donations for his party, and most of the funding for the party comes from his own pocket.[109] He rejected alliances with other political parties. In a by-election to Madurai Central assembly constituency, DMDK secured around 17000 votes, which was just 2000 votes less than AIADMK. DMDK was also able to secure a significant number of seats in Local Body elections.[110][111]

Leader of the opposition, 2011 edit

 
Shri Vijayakanth with DMDK delegation calling on the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, in New Delhi

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.[112] His party saw success, winning 29 of the 41 seats it contested.[113] 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.[114] Cho Ramaswamy encouraged Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) to forge an alliance with AIADMK.[115] 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.[116] S. Ramadoss, founder 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.[117]

Following the election, Jayalalithaa and Vijayakanth had exchanges in the assembly that started the rift between the two parties.[118][119][120] 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 gave special reference to him in the NDA leaders meet and referred him as his friend.[121] 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 P. Dhanapal.[122]

2016 election edit

He was announced Chief-Ministeral candidate by People's Welfare Front and contest it. He lost both his seat and deposit in the 2016 election.[123] 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 third.[124] 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.[125][126]

Elections contested edit

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[127]
2011 Tamil Nadu state assembly election Rishivandiyam DMDK Won 53.19 Sivaraj S. INC 35.22[128]
2016 Tamil Nadu state assembly election Ulundurpet DMDK Lost 15.14 R. Kumaraguru AIADMK 36.03[125]

Election Contested edit

2006 edit

2006 Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly election : Vriddhachalam[129]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
DMDK A. Vijayakanth 61,337 40.42% New
PMK R. Govindasamy 47,560 31.34% -18.79
AIADMK R. Kasinathan 35,876 23.64% New
BJP V. Aravind 1,265 0.83% New
Independent C. Vijayakanth 1,174 0.77% New
SP K. Mangapillai 878 0.58% New
Independent K. Vijayakanth 832 0.55% New
Margin of victory 13,777 9.08% 3.89%
Turnout 151,731 76.98% 9.09%
Registered electors 197,117
DMDK gain from PMK Swing -9.71%

2011 edit

2011 Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly election : Rishivandiyam[130]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
DMDK Vijayakanth 91,164 53.19% +37.36
INC S. Sivaraj 60,369 35.22% -7.52
Independent M. Vijayakanth 7,355 4.29% New
IJK P. Natarajan 3,227 1.88% New
Independent M. Ramajayam 2,044 1.19% New
Loktantrik Samajwadi Party J. Selvaraju 1,860 1.09% New
BJP B. Rajasundaram 1,793 1.05% -0.51
Independent K. Senthil 1,587 0.93% New
Independent V. Murugan 1,299 0.76% New
Margin of victory 30,795 17.97% 11.78%
Turnout 171,405 82.87% 14.12%
Registered electors 206,830
DMDK gain from INC Swing 10.44%

2016 edit

2016 Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly election : Ulundurpet[131]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
AIADMK R. Kumaraguru 81,973 36.04% -24.05
DMK G. R. Vasanthavel 77,809 34.21% New
DMDK Vijayakanth 34,447 15.14% New
PMK K. Balu 20,233 8.89% New
Independent G. V. Saravanan 2,657 1.17% New
Independent P. Shanmugam 1,791 0.79% New
Margin of victory 4,164 1.83% -26.18%
Turnout 227,476 82.89% -0.52%
Registered electors 274,436
AIADMK hold Swing -24.05%

Other work edit

He founded Shri Andal Alagar College of Engineering in 2001. His wife was the chairperson of this college. On 1 October 2001, Vijayakanth declared that 1 October, which was 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.[132][133] Vijayakanth launched a 24-hour television channel called Captain TV on 14 April 2010.[134] He later launched a 24-hour news channel called Captain News on 29 August 2012.[135]

He had involved in philanthropic work for several years since his film acting career. It was reported that he used to open his office doors for anyone to go and have healthy food and meals.[136] He had also assisted several actors in his career including Bonda Mani, Vadivelu by offering consultancy and required financial help.[30][137]

Personal life edit

Controversies edit

The media widely publicised an ongoing dispute between Vijayakanth and 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.[138] 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."[139][140] In response, Vijayakanth told a press meet that Vadivelu's allegations were based on hearsay.[141]

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 was to sweep out Vijayakanth's whole team and to campaign vigorously for DMK's victory".[142] Vadivelu was criticised 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.[143] In a turn of events, the election was eventually successful for the AIADMK alliance, while Vijayakanth was victorious by a significant margin in his own constituency.[144]

In 2014, an ex-serviceman named Dhandapani lodged a complaint against Vijayakanth at the Madras High Court for using the title "captain." Dhandapani argued that it was illegal to use the term "captain" as the relevant term should only be used by army people who are attached to the Indian Army. Dhandapani insisted that it would be an insult to the Indian Army if Vijayakanth continues to use the adjective "captain", as Vijayakanth had previously never served in the Indian Army.[145] However, there is no clear evidence regarding the outcome of the court case as it has not been reported or publicised anywhere.

While speaking at an election campaign meeting in 2016, he criticised Rajinikanth, causing a considerable backlash from supporters of Rajinikanth.[146][147][148] He was criticised for making obscene gestures in public, often towards journalists.[149][150][151][152]

Health decline and death edit

Vijayakanth faced declining health since the mid-2010s, as his speech progressively began to slur and he was unsteady on his feet during political rallies and speeches. He was reported to have visited doctors internationally for undisclosed treatments. In 2017, he remarked that thyroid problems affected his vocal cord.[153] In 2020, Vijayakanth tested positive for COVID-19, after which he was always only seen in public with a face mask.[154] In 2022, Vijayakanth underwent surgery to amputate three toes due to complications from diabetes,[155] which rendered him to permanently travel by a wheelchair. Several of his film industry colleagues, such as R. Sarathkumar, Vadivukkarasi, Radha Ravi, Thyagu, and Vagai Chandrasekhar, expressed their grief at his declining health and noted that they were not aware of his exact diagnosis.

Vijayakanth was admitted to hospital in November 2023 due to liver complications. He again contracted COVID-19 while in hospital in Chennai and subsequently died on 28 December 2023, at the age of 71.[156][157][158][159][160][161]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Former Indian Vice-president Venkaiah Naidu, Union Ministers Amit Shah, Nirmala Sitharaman, Rajnath Singh, Piyush Goyal, Anurag Thakur, L. Murugan, BJP President J. P. Nadda, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge, Tamil Nadu Governor R. N. Ravi, Chief Minister M. K. Stalin, Opposition Leader Edappadi K. Palaniswami, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, Former Chief Minister Chandra Babu Naidu, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee,[162] Puducherry Chief Minister N. Rangaswamy, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister D. K. Shivakumar, Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, several party leaders and Indian film fraternity members condoled and paid last tributes on his demise.[163][164][165][166][167] The Tamil Nadu State Government announced full state honours for his funeral.[168] His body was kept in state at his residence in Saligramam and later at his party headquarters until the wee hours of 29 December 2023. Later, his mortal remains were kept in Island Grounds for public to pay their tribute. After long grand public procession, his last rites were performed on the evening of 29 December 2023 and he was buried with full state honours at the campus of the DMDK Party headquarters at Koyambedu, Chennai in a sandalwood casket engraved with "Puratchi Kalaignar Captain Vijayakanth".[169][170]

On 3 January 2024, Modi wrote a tributary article on Vijayakanth on his website.[171][172]

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Further reading edit

  • Pamela Price; Arild Engelsen Ruud, eds. (2010). Power and Influence in India: Bosses, Lords and Captains. New Delhi: Routledge India. ISBN 9780415585958.

External links edit