Tamil comic Vivekh dies of cardiac arrest at 59

Chennai, April 17

Tamil actor Vivekh, who won the hearts of millions by his sharp wit and was noted for social work and promoting the cause of environmental protection, died here on Saturday.

The 59-year-old comedian died in the early hours, SIMS Hospital vice president Dr Raju Sivasamy said.

The government, meanwhile, said ‘police honours’ would be accorded to the actor’s funeral to honour his contribution to the film world and social service.

The actor is survived by wife and two daughters. Years ago, Vivekh’s teenager son had died.

On Friday, the actor suffered a cardiac arrest due to acute coronary syndrome and was treated for it and put on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation support.

Vivekh was brought to the hospital in an unconscious state by his family.

The comedian, who has acted in over 200 films, is noted for his work on the environmental protection front and he actively campaigned and involved himself in planting saplings and afforestation.

He often collaborated with the government in disseminating important messages to the public – through mediums like television – including those on preventing coronavirus spread.

The actor had got administered the Covid vaccine at a government facility on Thursday here to allay the fears of the public on the Covid vaccine.

Authorities said the cardiac arrest he suffered was not due to the vaccination. Tamil Nadu Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said there was no Covid vaccine reaction on the actor who had tested negative for the virus.

Vivekh’s dialogues in movies, including ‘Saamy’, couched in social messages like ones against caste discrimination earned him the sobriquet of ‘Chinna Kalaivanar’.

Yesteryear versatile comedian NS Krishnan was praised as ‘Kalaivanar’ for his commitment to an egalitarian society which reflected in his films too. ‘Kalai’ denotes arts and ‘vaanan’ refers to a scholar or expert in a given field.

A Padma Shri recipient, Vivekh acted with top Tamil heroes, including Rajinikanth, Vijay and Ajith Kumar, and has performed lead roles in ‘Palakkadu Madhavan,’ ‘Nan Dhaan Bala’ and ‘Vellai Pookal’. The 2020 comedy flick ‘Dharala Prabhu’ was his last movie.

His long-time friend and noted comedian Charlie said Vivekh was the ‘hero’ among comedians who always helped people in need and he could not tolerate injustice.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister K Palaniswami, DMK president MK Stalin, actor Rajinikanth, Makkal Needhi Maiam leader Kamal Haasan were among who expressed shock and grief over his death and conveyed their condolences to the bereaved.

Film stars, celebrities and his fans flocked to Vivekh’s residence to pay floral tributes and they also took to Twitter to convey their condolences.

In his condolence message, Modi said, “The untimely demise of noted actor Vivek has left many saddened. His comic timing and intelligent dialogues entertained people.”   

“Both in his films and his life, his concern for the environment and society shone through. Condolences to his family, friends and admirers. Om Shanti,” the prime minister tweeted.

Palaniswami hailed the actor as a man who lived his personal life too with a commitment to social welfare.

“He is a role model to youngsters,” the Chief Minister said and recalled the actor’s support to the government in areas, including protecting environment, planting saplings and avoiding plastic.

An admirer of late president APJ Abdul Kalam “through his Green Kalam initiative he was actively engaged in planting one crore tree saplings,” the CM said.

A simple and pleasing man, he was honoured not only by the Centre with the Padma Shri but also by Tamil Nadu government with Kalaivanar Award and he also bagged numerous other best comedy actor awards, Palaniswami said in a statement.

Vivekh’s death was an ‘irreparable loss’ for society, people and the film world, he said.

After a while in government service at the secretariat, Vivekh debuted in ace director K Balachander’s ‘Manadhil Urudhi Vendum’ (1987), the CM said, and listed movies including ‘Dhool’, ‘Vedi’, ‘Poovellam Un Vaasam,’, ‘Anniyan,’ and ‘Singham’ for not only making people have a hearty laugh but also to reflect and think.

Stalin, in a tweet, praised the actor for his environmental protection work and expressed grief on “nature taking away the talented star so soon”.

Rajinikanth described Vivekh as his close friend and  recalled the movie ‘Shivaji’ in which they had starred together.

Haasan said the comedian’s death is a huge loss to the Tamil society and praised the actor for his work to pay back to the people who nurtured his talent.

Tamil Nadu Congress Committee chief KS Alagiri and BJP state unit president L Murugan condoled the death.

Information Minister Kadambur K Raju said Vivekh had planted 10 lakh tree saplings in Kovilpatti, the actor’s native place and the Assembly constituency he represented.

Health Secretary Radhakrishnan said nearly 23,000 people were administered Covaxin at the hospital here and 5.68 lakh throughout Tamil Nadu so far. “There has been no adverse reaction anywhere,” the secretary said.

Vivekh had volunteered to have the Covaxin dose administered at the government hospital so that others could get inspired, Radhakrishnan said.

Following his admission to the SIMS hospital, emergency and cardiac team resuscitated him.

Angioplasty and stenting were performed as one of the critical blood vessels in his left coronary artery – left anterior descending artery – had a block. The actor underwent emergency coronary angiogram followed by angioplasty. PTI

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