Cinema

Comedian ‘Kaka' Radhakrishnan passes away at 86

Actor ‘Kaka' Radhakrishnan, known for his performances as a comedian and character artist, passed away here on Thursday. He was 86.

Radhakrishnan belongs to a rare breed of actors who will be remembered by film buffs of the 1940s and 1950s, as well as fans of Tamil cinema who grew up in the 1990s. His short physique and ability to use his eyes readily to convey different emotions made him a sought-after comedian in his earlier days.

It was a role in the film ‘Mangayarkkarasi' that earned him his interesting nickname ‘kaka' (crow). In this film, a young Radhakrishnan, when compelled to prove that he is an intelligent lad, tries to catch a crow (the phrase ‘catch a crow' in Tamil also refers to one being a sycophant) perched on top of a tree. From then on, ‘Kaka' got prefixed to his name.

Radhakrishnan, who is said to have introduced Sivaji Ganesan to his theatre group, also acted with him in the much-acclaimed ‘Manohara'. They shared a special bond, and had a great regard for each other. Sivaji, according to members of Radhakrishnan's family, would visit him often and the two actors would fondly revisit the time they had spent on different shooting spots.

Radhakrishnan acted in over 400 films in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. After performing a variety of roles with several top actors of yesteryear Tamil cinema, he had a remarkable second innings, thanks to actor Kamal Hassan who believed newer audiences should not miss watching such talent.

‘Guna', ‘Thevar Magan' and later ‘Vasool Raja' made ‘Kaka' a ‘cool dude' figure. His sharp portrayal of the disgruntled patriarch in ‘Thevar Magan' stood out, despite powerful performances from others – Sivaji, Kamal and Nasser – in the film.

In ‘Vasool Raja', playing Crazy Mohan's father – an old man obsessed with carrom – he simply stole the show. Despite his fragile and vulnerable state, the manner in which he would sit upright, control his shivering hands and focus on the coins to successfully pocket the red and follow is poignant, though he hardly speaks. Both in ‘Thevar Magan' and in ‘Vasool Raja', he portrayed an ailing old man, so convincingly, that at times, the viewer sympathises with the character, forgetting that these are just films.

The last few years were not easy for Radhakrishnan, who kept falling ill, but he was his cheerful self all through, said family members. He is survived by two wives, three sons and five daughters.

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Printable version | Nov 24, 2020 8:25:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/comedian-kaka-radhakrishnan-passes-away-at-86/article3529248.ece

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