Nagesh – A tribute

[Nagesh will be remembered as one of the most talented comedians in Tamil Cinema, says KK Moidu in today’s guest post].

Cyril K Nagesh, popularly known as Nagesh, has left a void in the Tamil cinema industry. The death of the septuagenarian on Jan. 31 due to complications related to diabetes and heart ailment put an end to an era. The 76-year-old actor is survived by three sons, including actor Anand Babu.

Nagesh, who carved a niche for himself, was most often casted as the man who stands next to the hero. He had enough luck to share screen space with three generations of actors like MGR-Sivaji, Rajinikanth-Kamal Hassan and the latest Tamil heartthrobs Ilayathalapathi Vijay and Ajith Kumar. Most of the people today remember Nagesh as a funny man but many don’t know yesteryear’s front-line heroes like MGR and Sivaji Ganesan were waiting for his arrival on the sets. For producers, his presence in films was necessary for commercial success. He was not able to find enough time and worked on an hourly basis on each film per day. For the last couple of years, Nagesh was rarely seen on screen and his last film was Dasavatharam, where Kamal Hassan played ten different roles. He was one of the leading comedians of the 60s and 70s during the reign of MGR-Shivaji and was a regular in their films. Nagesh, a good dancer, was praised for his pairing opposite Manorama in several films.

CK Nagesh was born as Gundu Rao in a Brahmin community to Kannada speaking Brahmin Madhwa parents in 1933. He left his home as a teenager, telling his parents that he would return only after establishing himself. He travelled to Chennai and started his career as an employee of the Indian Railways. After watching a Tamil play Kamba Ramayanam presented by his colleagues, he felt that he could do a better job. His role in a play as a man suffering from stomach pain staged at the Railways Cultural Association won him appreciation from MGR, the chief guest of the programme. Nagesh began his career as a theatre artiste by playing minor roles and finally reached stardom.

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