Vaigaipuyal Vadivelu - An Invisible Member of Family Ration Cards

Vaigaipuyal Vadivelu - An Invisible Member of Family Ration Cards

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What has changed in my conversations from 8 years back to now? What has changed in Tamizh Cinema from 8 years back to now? These questions had one surprisingly common answer - Vaigaipuyal Vadivelu. An 8-year hit movie drought for Vadivelu. The usage of Vadivelu dialogues in our day to day conversations with friends and family. Despite the 8-year hit movie drought, Vadivelu has managed to cling on to our minds. How many of you use Vadivelu's one-liners every day? Almost everyone, almost every day! If there is a survey for the usage of Tamizh film dialogues in day-to-day life, Vadivelu's one-liners are sure to top the charts. Sometimes, most of us will be trying to find opportunities to use his dialogue to make the atmosphere delightful. "Ithugalum nammala follow panuthae!" How does Vadivelu sustain the craze even today? 


Vadivelu started his career with Rajkiran's "En Rasavin Manasile" as a sidekick to legendary comedian Gaundamani. With the few screen appearances which he was given, he managed to grab the audience's eye. Singaravelan is one sample. "Wowww... Sattae melae evlooo buttaen" is still one trending dialogue in social media. His roles transformed and he bagged big roles and big movies. A director who doesn't believe in separate comedy tracks in his movies, Bharathi Raja maintained a separate comedy track for Vadivelu in "Kizhakku Cheemaiyilae". That is the extent of his reach among the theatre going audience.


In the 2000s, Vadivelu's career graph reached its peak and he delivered back to back hit comedy tracks. He was celebrated by the masses in the theatres. There were heroes who waited for his call sheet before signing up a movie. There were movies which became blockbusters just because of one name - Vaigaipuyal Vadivelu. His combination with mainstream heroes still has no replacement. His on-screen chemistry with the entire cast of a film has a high success ratio, be it a superstar or a heroine or a supporting actor. We have seen him as a building contractor, a conductor, a rowdy, a don, a beggar, a police constable, a fisherman, a call centre employee, an auto-driver, a politician, a king, a grave digger and the list goes on and on. He has probably performed more diverse roles than Ulaganayagan Kamalhaasan in his 24 year film career. His comedies are a huge hit. His one word "Aahaan" was all over FB at the start of 2015. Only those who follow Tamizh Cinema know that the "Aahaan" comedy released in 2007. A film that runs 100 - 200 days is called a blockbuster. What should a scene which trends on all social networks and all TV channels even after 8 years from its release be called? 


Everything he does - his introduction scene, his facial expressions, his body language while delivering punchlines, his dialogue delivery, his tone modulation, his famous one-liners, even his interjections makes the theatre crowd burst out with laughter. The last line has his skill set just for comedy. He has also shined as a supporting actor and he has outperformed the rest of the cast in many emotional sequences. Vadivelu has also lent his voice for a handful of songs. His voice is almost perfect for the "gaana" genre which is again justified by his rural origin. 


"London la lotaayi lobby aairuva", "Oor la ulla ellaa sub jail-layum, en subject ah thaandaa paadama vechu nadathurainga en sipppss eh!", "Ellathayum visaarichitu thaanda vanthu aerirukom en jeans eh!", "Aama.. Naama laam periya lord langodu" - the words chips, jeans, lobby, lord langodu don't mean anything in his context, but you still sit and enjoy these, you may also use one of these with your friends. His dialogues have become a household, with kids, youngsters and adults using them often. In the past year, there have been at least 5-10 movie titles with Vadivelu's dialogues.


Originating from a small village in the outskirts of Madurai, he has become the most popular actor from Tamizh Cinema and he has reached each and every house in Tamizh Nadu with his omnipresence in television. With the onset of memes era in Facebook and Twitter, Vadivelu holds the major share of memes posted. His dialogues, screenshots of his body language, images of his facial expressions, sequence of his comedy scenes prove the reach he has with the Tamizh audience. When you read a Vadivelu meme posted online, you will always read it in his slang. Yes, that comes out involuntarily. 


His stint with politics was short-lived and he took a 2 year break. Tamizh Cinema has sidelined him with the onset of new comedians during this period. His comeback wagons "Tenali Raman" and "Eli" backfired. There are people who still get reminded of Vadivelu when they see a weak comical scene in the theatres. I am one among them. "End card poatu egathaalaamaa da panringa... enaku end ae kedaiyaathu da!"


After a bad day at office, you reach home very late. Everyone at home has slept. Barely in need of a company to vent out the mounted pressure and stress, you find in front of you, the TV remote. You switch on the TV and the last viewed channel pops up. "Vandhutaanyaa... Vandhutaanyaa..." - this dialogue welcomes you home and for the first time in last fourteen and half hours, your face gets a smile. You watch the whole comedy and not an instant did the smile go away. Vadivelu is the best stress buster!


After the launch of 24x7 comedy channels in Tamizh, Vadivelu has become a household member. At least every 10 minutes, his comedy runs in one or the other comedy channel. Over the weekends, when you're enjoying his comedy in TV, try to reduce the volume in your TV to inaudible levels. You will still hear his voice crystal clear - either in your mind or from the TV in your neighboring house. You can switch on your TV set or scroll through your news feed only to agree with this undeniable truth.


An apt line written for Vadivelu in one of his songs -

"பிறர் சிரிக்க பார்த்து சிரிப்பேன்
அவர் மொகத்த பார்த்து ரசிப்பேன்
அதில் இருக்கும் சொகத்த நெனச்சு நெனச்சு கண்ணீர் வடிப்பேன்
அதில் கவலை மறப்பேன்
என் கலையும் இதுதான்
என் தொழிலும் இதுதான்"


"Nallaa thaane sollirukaan... Nallaa kanichu thaanae yaa solirukaan!" 

- Arun Bharathi, a member of Vadivelu's Varuthapadatha vaalibar sangam.

Arun B Swaminathan

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