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Indian Actor and Politician Was 71

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Indian actor and politician Narayanan Vijayaraj Alagarswami, known popularly by his screen name Vijayakanth, died in Chennai on Thursday, following complications related to pneumonia. He was 71.

Vijayakanth, who had been ailing for some time, was admitted to Chennai’s MIOT (Madras Institute of Orthopaedics and Traumatology) International Hospital in November. He recently tested positive for COVID-19. “Captain Vijayakanth was on ventilatory support following his admission for pneumonia. Despite the best efforts of the medical staff he passed away in the morning on 28th December 2023,” the hospital said in a statement.

The actor was known by the sobriquet “Captain” after his immensely popular title role in his 100th film, “Captain Prabhakaran” (1991).

Vijayakanth, who acted in Tamil-language films, debuted in a villainous role in 1979 with “Inikkum Ilamai.” The same year he starred as the leading man in “Agal Vilakku,” where his character fought corruption in government. The actor soon became known for his roles playing a do-gooder, including several films as a police officer, and also for playing fiercely patriotic characters. These led him to be known as “Puratchi Kalingar” (revolutionary artist).

Highlights of Vijayakanth’s acting career include “Sattam Oru Iruttarai” (1981), “Sivappu Malli” (1981), “Jadhikkoru Needhi” (1981), “Amman Kovil Kizhakale” (1986), which won him a Filmfare Award for best actor, Tamil, “Manakanakku” (1986), “Oomai Vizhigal” (1986), “Senthoora Poove” (1988), which won him a Tamil Nadu state film award for best actor, “Pulan Visaranai” (1990), “Sathriyan” (1990), “Chinna Gounder” (1992) and “Sethupathi IPS” (1994), besides “Captain Prabhakaran.”

In all, Vijayakanth acted in 154 films. His last role was a cameo in “Sagaptham” (2015), which launched his son Shanmuga Pandian as a leading man.

In 2005, Vijayakanth announced the formation of political party Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK). The party contested the Tamil Nadu state assembly elections in 2006 and though it won only a solitary seat – for Vijayakanth himself – it won a significant percentage of the vote. Come the 2011 assembly elections, the DMDK won several more seats and became the main opposition party in Tamil Nadu, Vijayakanth serving as leader of the opposition. However, both Vijayakanth and his party did not win in the 2016 assembly elections.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted: “Extremely saddened by the passing away of Thiru Vijayakanth Ji. A legend of the Tamil film world, his charismatic performances captured the hearts of millions. As a political leader, he was deeply committed to public service, leaving a lasting impact on Tamil Nadu’s political landscape. His passing leaves a void that will be hard to fill. He was a close friend and I fondly recall my interactions with him over the years. In this sad hour, my thoughts are with his family, fans and numerous followers. Om Shanti.”

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