Comedian Neelu is no more

Comedian Neelu, remembered for his characteristic entry onto the stage and the screen, always humming a snatch from some Carnatic song, died here on Thursday after a prolonged hospitalisation. He was 82 and is survived by wife and two sons.

“The only time he did not make his typical entry was when he played the role of Yama. He had a great following among drama lovers in Chennai,” said stage actor A.R. Srinivasan, who had worked closely with Neelu.

Born Neelakantan, he did his graduation and post-graduation in Economics at R.K.M. Vivekananda College in the city. At school, he participated in the Scouts movement and acted in plays. Later, he joined the Triplicane Fine Arts Club. He later became one of the permanent faces of Cho Ramasamy’s Viveka Fine Arts troupe and its plays. “When we decided to stop staging plays taking into consideration our age, Neelu felt that he was still young and started acting with ‘Crazy’ Mohan’s troupe,” said Ambi, the younger brother of Cho Ramasamy and a close friend of Neelu since their college days, where they came together to stage plays. “He easily blended with any group and was ever ready to do any role. He would never project himself, but develop the character in such a way that people would start concentrating on him the moment he appeared,” said Mr. Ambi, who called on him on Wednesday at the hospital. He spoke both the Chennai dialect and the Brahminical dialect with equal ease.

“He did not know how to speak in a low voice. He would even convey secrets in his typical high voice,” said Mr. Ambi.

Even though he forayed into films and played a few memorable roles like Neelakantam in Gowravam and as advocate Appalachari, who loved cooking in Velum Mayilum Thunai, he did not make acting his full-time career (in all, he had acted in 160 films).

He was an employee of V.C. Swami and Company Private Ltd. “He would call us from Kolkata every day after he was transferred there. Finally, Cho convinced his employer to bring him back to Chennai,” he recalled.

A music lover

He was an ardent music lover and would not miss the concerts of his favourite singers, including T.V. Sankaranarayanan and Sanjay Subramanian. “I would always sit beside him at concerts and he used to explain to me the names of ragas. Later, I would happily boast of my new found musical knowledge to the singer,” said Mr. Srinivasan.

“He was a very positive person and enjoyed life. Even when I met him a day ago, he told me that the doctors had only amputated his leg and he could still live without it,” said Ambi.

Mr. Mohan said, “For the past 10 years, Neelu has been with Crazy Creations. It is a great loss. He has travelled the world with us. For the past 20 days, the troupe members have been with him at the hospital.”

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 6:49:40 AM |

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