Even as Kollywood personalities and politicians poured into Island Grounds in Chennai to pay their final respects to ‘Captain’ Vijayakant, his close friend and superstar, Rajinikanth, visibly shaken, addressed the media. “There is so much to say about him, most importantly, it is his friendship. He was a model of a good friend. If you interacted with him even once, you would never forget about it for the rest of your life. Everyone became bound to his love. People were willing to lay down their lives for him. Yes, he would lose his temper with his friends, politicians and the media, but no one could be angry with him. Why? Because there was justice behind his anger,” Rajinikanth said.
Rajini, who is known to be very close to the late veteran actor and Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) chief, said he had been at a shooting spot in Kanniyakumari at the time of Vijayakant’s passing on December 28. “There was never any self-interest behind his anger, there was love. He was an example of bravery. All those who have ever spoken to him will have so much to say about him. Two memories come back to me. Once, when I was very ill, I was admitted to Ramachandra Medical Mission. I was unconscious. The media, fans, and public presence there become impossible to control. Vijayakant arrived there. I have no idea what he did, but in five minutes, he cleared the crowds,” Rajini said, struggling with his grief. “Once I returned home, he said, ‘Give me a room near his. I will ensure that no one disturbs him’. My family can never forget this.”
Rajini recalled a similar situation during their time together in Singapore and Malaysia for a ticketed event to raise funds for the South India Cine Artistes' Association, more commonly known as the Nadigar Sangam. Vijayakant was serving as the Association’s president at the time, and this event – many have recently recalled – saved the Nadigar Sangam from bankruptcy.
“In Malaysia, others had already boarded the bus after the event. I was delayed because too many fans and media had surrounded me. I was struggling to even walk for five minutes, and the bouncers were helpless,” the superstar remembered and added, “Vijayakant saw everything from the bus. He got off and in two minutes, beat back the crowds, cleared a path for me and got me onto the bus. He enquired: ‘Brother, are you okay? Did anything happen to you? To see such a man as he was in his last days was very difficult for me.”
Speaking about the late actor’s epithet of ‘Captain’, which he received after the success of his 1991 film Captain Prabhakaran, Rajini added, “It was an ideal title for him. He played 71 balls [his age]. He scored many boundaries and many sixers. He brought joy to people and then left the playfield called this world.”
In a parting tribute to his late friend, Rajinikanth said, “Millions have lived. Millions have died. Who remains in the hearts of people still? Vijayakant. Long live Vijayakant.”
Several politicians and people from the film fraternity paid their respects to Vijayakant after his passing on December 28. Vijayakant’s mortal remains were brought to Island Grounds in Anna Salai on December 29 and will remain there till 1 pm for people to pay their respects. The funeral procession will begin at 1 pm from Island Grounds to the DMDK office. The funeral is expected to take place at 4:45 pm. Chief Minister MK Stalin announced that Vijayakant’s funeral would be held with full state honours.
The 71-year-old actor and politician passed away at the MIOT Hospital in Chennai after suffering from prolonged pulmonary illness. He was on ventilator support after testing positive for COVID-19. Vijayakant is survived by his wife Premalatha and two sons. His younger son, Shanmuga Pandian, is also an actor.
Goodbye, Captain: Actor and DMDK chief Vijayakant passes away | Tamil Nadu| Shabbir Ahmed