In a poignant turn of events, Vijayakanth, the revered figure in Tamil cinema and founder-leader of the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), breathed his last at the age of 71 in a private hospital in Chennai. The seasoned actor, grappling with pneumonia and a positive Covid-19 diagnosis, succumbed to the illness on Thursday morning, leaving behind his wife Premalatha and sons Shanmuga Pandian and Vijaya Prabhakaran.
The news of Vijayakanth’s passing surfaced after he had been on ventilator support since his admission to the hospital on Tuesday. Despite enduring prolonged health challenges, including a significant setback in 2017 that led to an organ transplant in the United States, Vijayakanth remained a resilient stalwart in the Tamil film industry.
Born as Vijayaraj in Madurai to Alargarswami and Aandal, Vijayakanth ascended to fame alongside luminaries like Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan. Recognized for his down-to-earth persona, he garnered endearing monikers such as ‘Karuppu MGR’ and ‘Puratchi Kalaignar,’ while supporters affectionately dubbed him ‘Captain’ following his milestone film ‘Captain Prabhakaran.’
Vijayakanth’s cinematic journey brimmed with accolades, including the 1986 Filmfare award for ‘Amman Kovil Kizhakale’ and the Tamil Nadu government’s recognition for ‘Senthoora Poove’ in 1988. His versatility manifested in scripting history by starring in lead roles in 18 films in 1984, an unparalleled achievement in the Tamil film industry.
Beyond his cinematic contributions, Vijayakanth delved into politics in 2005, founding the DMDK. His political journey gained momentum, particularly after aligning with Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK in 2011, securing 29 seats out of 40 and propelling him to the position of Leader of the Opposition.
In subsequent political ventures, Vijayakanth aligned with the NDA in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, actively supporting Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This collaboration drew praise from Modi, fostering a close association. Vijayakanth continued his political odyssey, projecting himself as the chief ministerial candidate in the 2016 assembly elections.
Vijayakanth’s passing marks the conclusion of a significant chapter in Tamil cinema and politics. Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed his condolences, recognizing Vijayakanth’s legendary stature in the Tamil film realm and the profound impact of his charismatic performances on millions of admirers.