Padithurai Pandi, Kirikaalan, Naai Sekar, Snake Babu. Behind these quirky names is one man, Vadivelu, who had taken Kollywood by storm when he was active. Though it has been a few years since he was seen in a memorable role in movies, his comedy tracks and one-liners continue to live on, years after the audience first watched the films on screen.
The reason why Vadivelu is trending now is the hashtag #Pray_for_Neasamani which has been one of the top global trends since Wednesday night. The source for this strange hashtag was a Facebook post by a Civil Engineers page which had posted a picture of a hammer and asked the users what it was called in their regions.
The reply to that post by a Vadivelu fan and the reaction to that reply snowballed into a massive movement, which now has around 80,000 tweets including all the variations of the hashtag.
The film in which this particular track comes, Friends, isn't as much a discussion point as is the comedy. In fact, there are several such films where the audience may have forgotten the details of the main plot but still remember Vadivelu's expressions and one-liners. As the whole world waits with bated breath on updates on ‘Contractor Nesamani’s’ health, TNM recollects some such forgettable movies which are still remembered for their evergreen comedy.
Winner (2003) – Kaipulla
Who can forget the parrot green shirt and pencil moustache of Vadivelu in this movie?
Starring Prashanth and Kiran in lead roles, the absolute winner of the movie was indeed Vadivelu, who managed to etch himself in the memory of the audience. His role as Kaipulla is fondly remembered for bringing back the Tamil word ‘sangam’ into mainstream conversation. In the movie, he's the head of the ‘Varuthapadaadha Valibar Sangam’, which literally meant ‘Worriless Youth Association’.
His main job in the movie is to engage in head-on clashes with a bulky Riyaz Khan and offer comic relief in an otherwise boring movie. His line ‘Pechu pechaathaan irukkanum’ (Just engage in words, not in physical altercations) and his upbeat appearance still offer content to memes.
Ellam Avan Seyal (2008) – Vakkil Vandumurugan
‘Thank you my lord, thank you!’
Thus begins Vadivelu’s lovely role in this crime-thriller which remains largely forgotten. Remade from its Malayalam version Chinthamani Kola Case, starring Suresh Gopi in the lead role, this movie starred RK in its Tamil version.
Vadivelu plays a lawyer-turned-politician in this movie. His punch dialogues are still used every day by hundreds of people to tide over the frustration life has to offer. Some lines like "Kadal laye illiyaam" and "Kadupethranga my lord" have stood the test of time and have proven to fit into any real life situation.
Manadhai Thirudivittai (2001) – Steve Waugh
Such casual demeanour, much wow. If one has to describe Vadivelu in this movie, it has to be with this line – "Sing in the rain, I am swoiing in the rain".
Assaying the role of a college student (hero Prabhu Deva’s classmate) who's eyeing Bruce, a woman student from China, only to be snubbed by fellow comedian Vivek at every step, Vadivelu aced the look. This movie also gave pop culture gems like "Why blood, same blood", a line used to mean that one is in the same misery as another.
With leather jackets and earring in one ear, Vadivelu impressed all of us with his tip-of-the-tongue English and top-of-the-list personality. Oh! Who can forget his legendary family in Canada and his brother Mark Waugh in Dubai?
Marudhamalai (2007) – Encounter Ekambaram
Vadivelu plays a ‘strict’ police officer who had, in his own words, killed all rowdies from Chennai to Kanyakumari in encounters and is posted as head constable along with the movie’s hero Arjun. He bullies Arjun, who's a new recruit and his junior, to buy him tea and do odd jobs.
From explaining to Arjun on how all the rowdies became famous to letting an accused slip away because of ‘thaaipaasam’ (Mother sentiment), Vadivelu played the perfect cop who tries too hard to be taken seriously, and rightly so!
Paattali (1999) – Vadivelu/ Vadivukkarasi
Paattali, starring Sarath Kumar, Ramya Krishnan and Devayani in lead roles, is one of Vadivelu’s many outings when he cross-dressed as a woman on screen.
In the movie, Vadivelu (also his original character name) becomes ‘Vadivukkarasi’ to search for a box he had earlier stolen from Manivannan. He enters a Zamin bungalow and soon becomes accepted there by Anu Mohan, who takes Vadivelu (now a "woman") as his long-lost sister.
His encounter with Kovai Sarala’s lover, who stalks Vadivelu assuming that he is really a woman and his romance with Kovai Sarala form a major portion of the memorable comedy track.
Ennamma Kannu (2000) – ‘Telex’ Pandian/ Set-up Chellappa
Playing a double role in this Sathyaraj movie -- an upright police officer (Telex Pandian) and a pimp (Set-up Chellappa) – Vadivelu aced both these roles with ease.
The actor explaining why he hates the colour red and why he was named Telex Pandian to Kovai Sarala, his wife in the movie, still remains one of the most recollected scenes in his filmography. Not to mention the scene where Sathyaraj (a womanizer who is friends with Set-up Chellappa) mistakes Telex Pandian to be Set-up Chellappa and blabbers about all his womanizing adventures in front of Kovai Sarala is sure to evoke laughter even today.
Vetrikkodi Kattu (2000) -- Sudalai
The role he played in this movie earned him not just praises from his fans but also a Tamil Nadu state award for the best comedian.
His bling-clad appearance in Vetrikkodi Kattu and his never-ending tales of his pretend life in Dubai are still fresh in the memory. This movie also cemented Vadivelu and Partheipan as one of the most famous comic duos of Kollywood. The scenes where actor Partheipan bullies Vadivelu about his Dubai escapades (knowing well that Vadivelu was lying) are some of the evergreen scenes in the history of the comic duo.
Arasu (2003) -- Pichumani
A devout Brahmin, Pichumani in this movie ekes out a living by doing odd jobs in a temple.
Pichumani’s encounters with Sarath Kumar, Delhi Ganesh and Simran in the movie provide great comic relief. Vadivelu struggling to deal with a Hindi-speaking family which visits the temple and his happiness-induced arrogance on securing that much coveted government job in ‘Sennai’ are amazing to watch at any point in time.
Giri (2004) – Veerabhagu
This Arjun-starrer remains in memory even today perhaps only due to Vadivelu’s presence in it.
Playing a bakery owner Veerabhagu, Vadivelu spends all his time baking buns and trying to save himself from a bunch of creditors. Problem enters Veerabhagu’s life in the form of Reema Sen, who claims ownership of the bakery. Veerabhagu confides in Arjun about the history of the bakery and how he ended up becoming the owner of it.
Psst! How Veerabhagu got his bakery is a world-famous story now.
Thalainagaram (2006) – ‘Naai’ Sekar
The movie, famous for its "Nanum rowdy thaan" (I am also a rowdy) line had Sundar C and Jyotirmayi in lead roles.
Vadivelu played ‘Naai’ Sekar in the movie and has many ambitions – To marry actor Trisha (which gave birth to the famous line ‘Trisha illana Divya’), to become a rowdy (at which he invariably fails due to his apparent personality shortcomings) etc.
The movie was abundant with one-liners which are recollected even today like "Enna vechu comedy keemedy pannaliye" (You are not kidding with me, right?) and "Indha getup la nan romba alag-ga iruken la?" (I look realllly pretty in this getup, right?).
Aarya (2007) – ‘Snake’ Babu
Vadivelu’s hair-do and his now-famous monologue have made this role a cult among movie buffs.
Aarya, a forgettable movie starring Madhavan and Bhavana, is still remembered for the hilarious comedy track with Vadivelu in it. Playing a beggar who becomes a councilor, Vadivelu does complete justice to his role. The actor asking Bhavana what made her fall in love with him (Bhavana’s henchmen kidnap Vadivelu instead of Madhavan and the ensuing scene is a riot) is a scene that fans would love to revisit multiple times.
Karuppasamy Kuthagaithaarar (2007) – Padithurai Pandi
Padaithurai Pandi (Vadivelu), a small-time thief earns a living by stealing and impersonating people in the village. He is seen spending time in the front porch of the houses in the village, which earns him the title ‘Padithurai’.
His appearance with a prominent big curl on his forehead and colourful shirts is as memorable as the scene in which he tries to con a jewellery shop heir.
And these are only a few of his memorable roles in Kollywood that have managed to live on decades after the films released. While it might be impossible to put in words the impact his work has made in the lives of the common people, it is all but sure that he will continue to be remembered for the foreseeable future.