Introduction: The demise of actor-politician Vijayakanth, affectionately known as Captain, on December 28, due to pneumonia, has left a profound void in both the Tamil film industry and the political landscape of Tamil Nadu. Let’s take a reflective journey through the illustrious career of this iconic figure who not only graced the silver screen with his stellar performances but also made a significant impact in the realm of politics.
Vijayakanth’s Personal Life: Born as Vijayaraj Alagarswami on August 25, 1952, to KN Alagarswami and Aandal Azhagarswami, in Madurai, he leaves behind a legacy survived by his wife Premalatha and two sons, Vijaya Prabhakaran and Shanmuga Pandian. Known for his patriotic roles in films, Vijayakanth earned the title of ‘Puratchi Kalingar’ (revolutionary artist) and was hailed not only for his acting prowess but also for his generosity and willingness to help those in need.
Early Life and Career: Vijayakanth made his cinematic debut in 1979 with ‘Inikkum Ilamai’ and rose to prominence with ‘Sattam Oru Iruttarai’ in 1981. His career milestone came with the 100th film, ‘Captain Prabhakaran,’ which led to him being fondly addressed as ‘Captain.’ Initially portraying villainous roles, he transitioned to lead roles in the mid-’80s, contributing to a record-breaking 18 releases in 1984.
The Action Hero: Vijayakanth’s foray into commercial cinema marked a phase of gravity-defying stunts and hit films, especially in the crime thriller genre during the ’90s. His iconic cop film, ‘Sathriyan,’ produced by Mani Ratnam, showcased his versatility. Noteworthy village-based films like ‘Chinna Gounder’ solidified his status as a celebrated hero in rural Tamil Nadu. Throughout the 2000s, he continued to deliver successful films, showcasing his commitment to versatile roles.
Political Career: In 2005, Vijayakanth entered the political arena by establishing the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) party. His popularity soared, winning one seat and securing 10 percent of the vote share in the following year’s Tamil Nadu assembly election. His party, known for its self-sustaining financial model, garnered success in subsequent elections, notably in 2011 when DMDK allied with AIADMK, surpassing the DMK in seat wins.
However, political dynamics shifted, leading to challenges, and in the 2016 elections, Vijayakanth faced a significant defeat, losing both his deposit and seat. Despite the ups and downs, his contributions to Tamil Nadu politics are noteworthy.
Awards and Accolades: Vijayakanth’s contributions to cinema were recognized with the Tamil Nadu State Film Honorary Award in 1994, the Kalaimamani Award in 2001, and the Best Indian Citizen Award. His performances earned him several Best Actor awards, showcasing his enduring impact on the film industry.
Conclusion: Captain Vijayakanth’s journey, from a prolific actor to a charismatic political leader, is a testament to his multifaceted persona. As we bid farewell to this iconic figure, his legacy lives on through the memories of his cinematic brilliance and political endeavors, leaving an indelible mark on the cultural and political landscape of Tamil Nadu.