Veteran comedian Nagesh, who carved a niche for himself in the Tamil film industry both in humourous and character roles, died in Chennai on Saturday after a brief illness, family sources said.
Born as Gundu Rao to a Kannada Brahmin family in 1933, Nagesh was the most sought after actor in the MGR-Sivaji era of Tamil cinema in the 1960s and mid-seventies, and was a regular feature in the movies of these late superstars.
Nagesh, who was suffering from prolonged illness, breathed his last at his residence.
A 1000-film veteran, Nagesh was known for his timing and intonation that had the audience in splits. Even in serious movies, his roles were well-appreciated.
Nagesh has played some memorable characters. His role in Thiruvilaiyadal as Dharumi, a poet struggling to make ends meet and who gets a tete-a-tete with Lord Shiva, and as aspiring director Chellappa in Kadhalikaa Neramillai, are still remembered by Tamil movie-goers.
The actor also proved his mettle with serious roles in films like Ethirneechal and Neerkumizhi, besides playing the villain in Kamal Hassan starrer Apporva Sagotharagal, dubbed in Hindi as Appu Raja.
Nagesh is survived by his wife and three sons. One of his sons, Anand Babu, is also an actor.
Famous Tamil film director K Balachander was responsible for Nagesh coming into movies from theatre.
Nagesh's first film was Server Sundaram in 1964, which was a blockbuster. Nagesh also acted in films starring screen-legends MGR and 'Sivaji' Ganesan, holding his own against these superstars.
A recipient of several awards, including the state-conferred Kalaimamani, Nagesh acted in films of other languages including Telugu. Starting his career in drama troupes, Nagesh went on to play many roles and was paired opposite comedienne Manorama in several films. He was also a good dancer.
The actor's serious roles in films like Ethirneechal, where he played a bright but poor student dependent on others for a livelihood and that of a cancer patient in Neerkumizhi were well-received by audience and critics alike.
Nagesh has starred with three generations of actors. Beginning with MGR and Sivaji, he acted with Rajnikanth and Kamal Hassan and later went on to share screen space with current heartthrobs Vijay and Ajit Kumar.