Full Biography of Actor Nagesh
Nagesh (born Nageswaran C. Krishna Gundu Rao) was a Tamil film actor, mostly remembered for his roles as a comedian during the 1960s. He is regarded as one of the most prolific comedians in Tamil cinema.
Nagesh was born in a Kannada family from Dharapuram, Erode. He was educated in Madras and worked as a clerk in the Indian Railways before entering Tamil film industry. He acted in over 1,000 Indian films from 1958 to 2008, performing in variety of roles as comedian, lead roles, supporting actor and antagonist. He died on 31 January 2009.
In a stark contrast to the comic roles he performed, Nagesh's personal life was wrought with suffering. After losing his father at an early age, Nagesh had to endure a weak financial situation and family ostracism which plagued him throughout his life. The film Server Sundaram, a rags to riches story in which Nagesh plays the lead role, is believed to be roughly based on the real life story of the actor.
Despite being primarily a comedian, Nagesh was rated highly as a character actor by his peers. Nagesh's style of comedy was largely inspired by Hollywood actor Jerry Lewis. Similarities between Nagesh and Lewis earned Nagesh the sobriquet "Jerry Lewis of India".
Nagesh was born as Gundu Rao to Krishna Rao and Rukmaniamma on 27 September 1933. His parents belonged to the Kannada-speaking Madhwa Brahmin community. It is believed that he was born in Dharapuram in Former Integrated Erode district, now changed to new Tirupur district. His father died at an early age and the burden of educating Nagesh fell upon his mother. In his childhood, Nagesh was afflicted by small pox which slightly disfigured him.
He left Dharapuram at an early age and moved to Madras city in search of a career. At Madras, he shared a one-bedroom room with two others. His room mates, writer Vaali and director Sridhar, later became established themselves as prominent personalities in the Tamil cine field. He found employment as a clerk in the Indian Railways and was thus able to pay his rent and cope up with expenses.
Early in his life, he saw a Tamil play Kamba Ramayanam enacted by his colleagues, and felt that he could do a good job. He persuaded the secretary of the Railways cultural association to give him the role of a man suffering from stomach pain. MGR, then chief guest, seeing this play, in his speech praised Nagesh for his performance. From then onwards, Nagesh played small roles in various drama troupes.
In 1958, producer Balaji spotted Nagesh and gave him his first break in a film called Manamulla Marudhaaram. The film did not do well at the box office. Moreover, Nagesh had only a small role to play in the movie. In 1960, Nagesh made his debut in Kannada with Makkala Rajya.
Nagesh won critical acclaim for his performance in the 1961 movie Thayilla Pillai. But it was his 1962 hit Nenjil Oru Aalayam which launched his career in the Tamil film industry. Nagesh was seen playing the lead role in Server Sundaram(1964) directed by Krishnan Panju. The movie was a remarkable hit and proved to be a great turning point in his career. The song from this film Avalukenna.. Azhagiya Mugam.... still famous with youth.
Server Sundaram marked Nagesh's rise to prominence. The film was about a restaurant waiter "server" Sundaram who struggles to make his ends meet. He is in love with Radha (K. R. Vijaya), the daughter of the owner of the hotel in which he is working. The film is about how with the aid of his rich friend Raghavan (R. Muthuraman), "server" Sundaram gets a chance to act in movies and eventually, emerges as a rich and prominent actor. However, he is heartbroken when he learns that Radha is actually in love with Raghavan. While Nagesh drives viewers into laughter with his comical antics in the early scenes, his sensitive portrayal of a failed lover in the second half of the movie too earned widespread appreciation. The rags-to-riches story in the movie was actually based on Nagesh's own life. With Server Sundaram, Nagesh earned critical acclaim for versatility.
The success of Server Sundaram ensured that Nagesh was one of the most sought-after actors in the 1960s. At the height of his career, he acted in as much as 35 movies in a single calendar year, at one time, shooting for six movies simultaneously. He appeared in a cameo in the 1965 mythological Thiruvilayadal in which he portrayed the poor, simpleton temple priest Dharumi. The soliloquy which Dharmi indulges in, within the temple precincts, is regarded as one of the unforgettable scenes of Tamil cinema. He followed the success with supporting roles in films as Kaadhalikka Neramillai where he wants to direct a film under his own production house named OHO PRODUCTIONS(but till climax he didn't make film), Anbe Vaa, Shanthi Nilayam, Pattanathil Bhootham and Vietnam Veedu. He played the role of Mohan in Major Chandrakant which was a popular hit and won for its lead actor Sundararajan, the nickname "Major" Sundararajan. His portrayal of the detestable pimp Vaidhy in Thillana Mohanambal was noted for the way in which Nagesh blended humour with villany. In most of his films as comedian, Nagesh paired with the actress Manorama. In 1967, Nagesh acted in his first Hindi movie Farz And Apart from performing in supporting roles, Nagesh also acted as the main protagonist in a number of movies. Server Sundaram is one of them. Another performance which is well-remembered is his role as the poor struggling orphan Maadhu in Ethir Neechal. His sensitive and sympathetic portrayal of Maadhu evoked comparisons with top character actors of the day. Jayakanthan chose Nagesh to play the lead in the 1966 film Yaarukkaha Azhudhan overlooking Sivaji Ganesan.
In the 1970 movie Navakiragam K Balachandar wanted to have Nagesh along with Manorama as his sidekick but Nagesh refused for the reason that he preferred to act without Manorama. Manorama was offended by this decision and refused to act with Nagesh ever since. And In the movie "theepam" in the late 70's, there was a scene where they both were together, but there was no dialogue exchange between the two.
After ruining a great chance of Manorama's to be in K. Balachandar's movie, Navagragam in 1970, and later some unintelligent annotations about MGR's womanizing lifestyle Nagesh became a charity case from 1972. Nagesh's financial problems evolved and his acting chances declined as producers feared to offer him parts in their movies he turned to drinking. So MGR offered him some comedy parts in his movies with the condition that he would have no contact with him: Ulaikum Karangal, Meenava Nanban and Urimai Kural. But after MGR became Chief Minister the producers again circumvented Nagesh circumspectly, of course. But in 1977 after a convincement of MGR to Manorama [rumors have it] she agreed to have Nagesh in her movie with the same condition MGR once made: Deepam; but the producers took advantage of the situation and the director tried to put both in one scene but Manorama dodged Nagesh for entirety: you can sense the tension when once loved couple never looked at each other for the whole scene even after eight years in the same profession.
Nagesh acted in Tamil films till a few months before his death in 2009. Notable among some of his later movies were Panchathanthiram, Vasool Raja MBBS, Imsai Arasan 23m Pulikesi, and his last appearance, Dasavathaaram. However, an animated version of him will be seen in the upcoming performance capture film Kochadaiyaan.
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