Vivek (actor)

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Vivek at the Ezhumin Press Meet.jpg
Vivek in 2018

(1961-11-19) 19 November 1961 (age 58)[2]
OccupationFilm actor, Social activist
Years active1987–present
Spouse(s)Arulselvi Vivek
Parent(s)Father : Anga Iyer
Mother : Maniyammal
AwardsPadmashri (2009)
Honorary Doctorate (2015)

Vivekanandan, known by his stage name Vivek, is an Indian film actor, comedian, television personality, playback singer and activist working in the Tamil film industry. In 2009, Government of India awarded Vivek with the Padma Shri award for his contribution to the arts.[3] Sathyabama University has conferred actor Vivek with an honorary doctorate for his contribution to the society through cinema. As a television personality, Vivek has hosted a number of events and has interviewed media personalities, notably A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.

Introduced in films by director K. Balachander, he has won 3 times the Best Comedian – Tamil at Filmfare Awards South for his performances in movies such as Run (2002), Saamy (2003), Perazhagan (2004) and 5 times for Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Comedian as Unnaruge Naan Irundhal (1999), Run (2002) Parthiban Kanavu (2003), Anniyan (2005) and Sivaji (2007). He has acted in more than 220 films.



Early career (1987–1997)[edit]

While working at the Secretariat in Chennai, Vivek in his free-time participated at the Madras Humour Club where people would perform stand-up comedy. He helped pioneer the movement to expand and subsequently won the Best Entertainer Award several times during his pantomimes at the Club. Vivek subsequently left Chennai and went on to obtain a bachelor's degree in commerce from Madurai and during semester breaks, he would return and perform at the Club.[4] P. R. Govindarajan, Founder of Humour Club, introduced him to film director K. Balachandar for the first time and began a professional relationship as a script-writer for the director's films. Vivekh revealed that after four years, Balachandar explained a situation and asked him to write a script for sixteen characters, which Vivek completed over night. He later understood that this was actually a test, and through his performance, Balachandar became closer to Vivek.[4] While assisting with the script for Manathil Uruthi Vendum in 1987, Balachandar offered Vivek an acting role of Suhasini's brother in the film, which he decided to pursue.[5] He began his career portraying supporting roles and collaborated again with Balachandar in Pudhu Pudhu Arthangal (1989) and Oru Veedu Iru Vasal (1990), before often appearing in the primary cast as a friend to the film's lead actor in films such as K. S. Ravikumar's Putham Pudhu Payanam (1991) and Vikraman's Naan Pesa Ninaipathellam (1993). He then also made appearances in Rajinikanth's Uzhaippali and Veera, playing secondary cast roles. Vivek had to wait till 1996 to establish himself as a sole comedian who could help carry the film, and thereafter began to appear in increasingly prominent roles in his ventures.[6]

Breakthrough and success (1998–2007)[edit]

In the late 1990s, Vivek was able to make a breakthrough by appearing as the lead comedian in films, who would often be the main friend of the lead actor and thus his on-screen time began to increase. He worked consecutively on successful films starring Ajith Kumar, appearing as a sidekick in Kaadhal Mannan, Unnai Thedi and Vaali, and had similar success repeatedly featuring alongside Prashanth in Kannedhirey Thondrinal, Poomagal Oorvalam and Aasaiyil Oru Kaditham. He subsequently became amongst the most busy actors in 2000 and 2001, featuring in over fifty films in two years. Films including Kushi, Priyamanavale and Minnale became blockbusters, while his roles in Mani Ratnam's Alaipayuthey, Mugavaree and Dumm Dumm Dumm all won critical acclaim for the actor. The rising success of Vivek's films had meant that he was featured on film posters on an equivalent scale to the lead actor, and thus helped stuck films find distributors. Telugu films were dubbed into Tamil and released with an additional comedy track featuring the actor such as Kanden Seethaiyai, while devotional films such as Kottai Mariamman, Palayathu Amman and Nageswari were released with a separate comedy track featuring Vivek.[7][8] In 2000, director K. Subash had planned a film starring Vivek in the leading role titled Enakkenna Korachal?, however the film never materialised.[9] Similarly in 2001, he began production on a film titled Panju by Rama Narayanan in which he appeared as the protagonist, but the venture was also then after shelved as was another film to be directed by Sivachandran.[10][11]

Vivek worked on more commercially successful ventures in 2002 and 2003, receiving consecutive Filmfare Best Comedian Awards and Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Comedians for his work. His comedy track in Run won him multiple accolades, with a critic adding Vivek's "nods to current social events showed a stroke of brilliance".[12] He played extended comedy roles in Vikram's Dhool and Priyadarshan's Lesa Lesa, while winning further acclaim for his portrayal of a teacher in Saamy and a software engineer in Parthiban Kanavu. He then played a marginally more serious role in S. Shankar's coming-of-age tale Boys, portraying a mentor to the group of youngsters, and his performance was well received. Critics noted that "Vivek, for a change, follows Shankar’s script and delivers with his impeccable sense of comic timing", while the reviewer from The Hindu claimed that "the show belongs to Vivek, he's the mouthpiece for the director."[13][14] Success continued in 2004, where he retained the Filmfare Award for Best Comedian for his role of a marriage assembler in Perazhagan, while his roles in Chellamae and M. Kumaran Son of Mahalakshmi helped contribute to the films' commercial success respectively.[15] His rising profile as an actor meant that he became the first comedian to become an ambassador for the soft drink, securing the sponsorship deal with Mirinda after the brand had carried out market surveys to find a popular promoter.[16][17] He also made a special exception to appear in a few artistic films and often charged significantly less remuneration for the ventures, notably playing character roles in Janaki Vishwanathan's Kutty (2001) and Thangar Bachan's Azhagi (2002).[18] In the later film, the director had requested Vivek to write and appear in a role himself, in order to use his fame to help the film find a distributor for release.[19]

A film which would feature Vivek in the leading role finally materialised in early 2004 and he completed a project titled Solli Addipean directed by newcomer Ramki. The team worked on the production of the film for close to a year and ensured that the audience would be able to accept the comedian's transformation into a lead role, with actresses Chaya Singh and Tejashree cast as the film's heroines.[19] Despite completion, the film has been stuck since 2004 and as a result of a failure to find a distributor, the film is unlikely to have a theatrical release. In mid 2004, he suffered an injury during the production of a film and took a break from acting assignments for a period of six months.[20] He returned by portraying a well-received supporting role in Shankar's Anniyan (2005), appearing as an undercover police officer hunting down clues left by a psychopath serial killer. The film opened to critical and commercial success with a critic noting "Vivek’s comedy is bankable", and the actor subsequently went on to win the State Award for Best Comedian for his work on the venture.[21] He continued his comeback with appearances in Vijay's Aathi, Ajith Kumar's Paramasivan and Silambarasan's Saravana, all of which released on the same day in January 2006. After winning acclaim for his performance as a comedic undercover detective in Susi Ganesan's Thiruttu Payale, Shankar approached him to feature in a prominent role in his venture Sivaji (2007), starring Rajinikanth, which would go on to become the most expensive Tamil film made at release.[22] Vivek allotted ninety days for the film, significantly more than any of his previous films, and his performance as Rajinikanth's sidekick Arivu, won him another award from the state for Best Comedian. He won positive reviews from critics for his performance, with reviewers noting his "one-liners are really whacky and hilarious" and that "Vivek must come in for special mention for his performance".[23][24]

Recent work (2008–present)[edit]

In the late 2000s, Vivek's market reach began to falter as a result of changes in screenplay in Tamil cinema, which saw less films adopting a separate comedy track. Moreover, the lack of big budget films signed by the actor and the emergence of Santhanam, saw Vivek reach a nadir in 2012, where he only had a single release.[25] His acclaimed work during the period involved a portrayal of a don in Padikathavan (2009), an appearance in drag in Guru En Aalu (2009) and as a police officer in the Singam (2010) series.[26] Re-emerging after a sabbatical, Vivek announced his plans to move away from his usual comedy roles after being advised by director Bala and Kamal Haasan and signed for a film titled Naan Than Bala (2014), in which he played a serious role.[27] Simultaneously he began work on another film as the lead actor in Palakkattu Madhavan (2015) opposite Sonia Agarwal, while appearing in another parallel lead role with Karunas in Sakthi Chidambaram's unreleased Machan. After his return, Vivek collaborated with film makers to appear again in bigger budget films and worked on Velraj's Velaiyilla Pattathari (2014), Gautham Menon's Yennai Arindhaal (2015), Aishwarya Dhanush's Vai Raja Vai (2015).[28]

Vivek notably starred as himself in Radha Mohan's comedy drama film Brindavanam (2017), which explored his friendship with a deaf and dumb fan. The film and Vivek garnered critical acclaim, with a reviewer noting the actor is in "good form" and "completely steals the limelight".[29][30] In 2019, he appeared as retired cop who heads to live in Seattle in the thriller film Vellai Pookkal, and won positive reviews for his portrayal of a serious character. A reviewer noted "despite seeming a bit awkward in certain scenes, the actor pulls it off thanks to his persistence", while another critic stated Vivek delivers his role in a "believable and convincing manner".[31][32]

Personal life[edit]

Vivek was born in Kovilpatti city and married Arulselvi, -with whom he has three children: Amrithanandini, Tejaswini and Prasanna Kumar, who died in 2015, aged 13, due to brain fever.[33] Vivek graduated from The American College in Madurai[34]


Vivek was the brand ambassador of Mirinda soft drinks in 2003.[35][36][37] As of 2011, he is the ambassador of Nathella jewellery.[38]

Vivek launched Green Kalam, under the guidance of former President of India A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.[39] "Green Globe Project", a Campaign against global warming, which had attained its mission of planting billion trees for billion people all over the state.[40] Vivek along with actress Jyothika have been appointed as ambassador for plastic free Tamil Nadu campaign by the State government under the leadership of Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami.[41][better source needed]

Awards and honors[edit]

Event Year Category/Award Movie Result
Civilian honor 2009 Padma Shri for his contributions to Indian Cinema
Tamil Nadu State Film Honorary Award 2006 Kalaivanar Award for his contributions to Tamil Cinema
Filmfare Awards South 2002 Best Comedian – Tamil Run Won
2003 Saamy
2004 Perazhagan
Tamil Nadu State film Awards 1999 Best Comedian Unnaruge Naan Irundhal
2002 Run
2003 Parthiban Kanavu
2005 Anniyan
2007 Sivaji
International Tamil Film Award 2003 Best Comedian Run
2004 Saamy
2008 Kuruvi
2011 Vedi[42]
Asianet Film Awards 2009 Honour Special Jury Award
Asianet Film Award for Best Comedian Various Films
Edison Awards 2007 Best Comedian Guru En Aalu


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  2. ^ "Exclusive biography of @Actor_Vivek and on his life". FilmiBeat.
  3. ^ A crown on my head: Vivek – Tamil Movie News. IndiaGlitz. Retrieved on 26 May 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Meet Vivek, the comedian with a social touch | cityinterviews – city360". ChennaiOnline. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  5. ^ Y Maheswara Reddy. "Vivek, comedy artiste". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
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  12. ^ AND THE AWARD GOES TO... (2002 edition). Retrieved on 21 June 2015.
  13. ^ Sify Movies – Review listing. (2 December 2012). Retrieved on 2015-06-21.
  14. ^ "Boys". The Hindu (5 September 2003). Retrieved on 2015-06-21.
  15. ^ Surya shines Cheran sizzles – Tamil Movie News. (9 July 2005). Retrieved on 2015-06-21.
  16. ^ "Metro Plus Tiruchirapalli / Cinema : Aahaa...Vivek Mirinda". The Hindu. 13 August 2005. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
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  19. ^ a b "Comedy king of Tamil cinema". The Hindu. 7 May 2002. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  20. ^ "Tamil Movies : Interview – Vivek". Retrieved 16 June 2014.
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  22. ^ "Welcome to". 20 January 2007. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
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  26. ^ Review : Guru En Aalu. Retrieved on 21 June 2015.
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  28. ^ "SouthScope - One Stop Site For South Indian Cinema". Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
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  30. ^ "Brindhavanam (aka) Brindaavanam review". Behindwoods. 26 May 2017.
  31. ^ "Vellaipookal (aka) Vellai Pookal review". Behindwoods. 20 April 2019.
  32. ^ "Vellai Pookal Movie Review {3/5}: Critic Review of Vellai Pookal by Times of India" – via
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  34. ^ "Vivek Biography, Vivek Profile". Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  35. ^ Mirinda Ropes In Tamil Comedian Vivek As Brand Ambassador. (10 April 2003). Retrieved on 2012-02-05.
  36. ^ Metro Plus Tiruchirapalli / Cinema : Aahaa...Vivek Mirinda. The Hindu (13 August 2005). Retrieved on 2012-02-05.
  37. ^ Interview with Vivek. Retrieved on 5 February 2012.
  38. ^ Nathella Jewellery Chennai, India, Boom Baa Offer. YouTube (12 July 2010). Retrieved on 2012-02-05.
  39. ^ "Actor Vivek moves ahead with 'Green Globe Project' – IBNLive". 1 July 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  40. ^ "welcome to green kalam | Krishnasamy Trust". 7 June 2012. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  41. ^ "Jyothika gets a prestigious responsibility from the govt! - Bollywood News". 23 August 2018.
  42. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

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