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Affectionately known as ‘Captain’, Vijayakanth’s journey was initially marked by a successful career in the Tamil film industry, starring in 154 movies before transitioning into the realm of politics.

Captain Vijaykanth death

Vijayakanth, fondly called ‘Captain’, passed away at a private hospital in Chennai on Thursday after a prolonged illness.

Actor and founder-leader of the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), Vijayakanth, passed away at the age of 71 in Chennai on Thursday after battling Covid.

His mortal remains have been brought to his residence and will soon be taken to the DMDK office. Earlier, in November, Vijayakanth had been admitted to MIOT Hospital in Chennai when his health took a downturn, experiencing persistent coughing and throat pain. He underwent a 14-day observation under medical care.

Affectionately known as ‘Captain’, Vijayakanth’s journey was initially marked by a successful career in the Tamil film industry, starring in 154 movies before transitioning into the realm of politics.

In his political career, he served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly twice, representing the Virudhachalam and Rishivandiyam constituencies.

Vijaykanth was acclaimed as the ‘Raja of B and C Class theatres’ in his acting days. Even when his films didn’t fare well commercially, they drew significant audiences in smaller towns, proving to be profitable for producers.

He ventured into politics in 2005 and his stronghold rested on this fan base, particularly among the socially and economically disadvantaged Dalits and OBCs. Additionally, his influence extended to the Telugu Naidu community, a smaller yet steadfast support group in the state.

His life in films and becoming ‘Captain’

Vijayakanth began his acting journey with “Inikkum Ilamai” in 1979. His unassuming looks and powerful screen presence quickly made him a popular figure among the audience. His first significant break happened with Sattam Oru Iruttarai in 1981, directed by Vijay’s father SA Chandrasekhar. He then collaborated with SAC for many ventures like Nenjile Thunivirunthal, Needhi Pizhaithathu, and Pattanathu Rajakkal, which made him a bankable newcomer.

In the ’90s, there was an evident shift in the kind of films Vijayakanth made. He increasingly started playing the role of a police officer starting from Pulan Visaranai. After Chatriyan (1990), another feather in his cap, came Captain Prabhakaran (1991), which propelled his stature to superstardom. The moniker Captain from the film stuck with him for life. Sethupathi IPS (1994), Maanagara Kaaval (1991), Rajadurai (1993), Thai Mozhi (1993), and Honest Raj (1994) are some of the other notable police films in his career.

Political journey

After entering politics, the DMDK contested all 234 constituencies during the 2006 Tamil Nadu Assembly Elections. Even though Vijayakanth emerged as the sole victor for his party, the DMDK secured a noteworthy 8% vote share.

From an impressive performance in the Assembly polls, the vote share of DMDK further increased to 10.3% in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
With a 7.9% vote share DMDK secured the position of the second-largest party in the 2011 Assembly elections.

However, a subsequent downturn became evident as the DMDK’s influence waned, garnering only 5.1% of votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and a mere 2.4% in the 2016 Assembly elections, resulting in no seats as part of a coalition comprising Left and Dalit parties.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls when the DMDK contested four seats as part of the AIADMK-NDA alliance and faced defeat in all constituencies.
As Vijayakanth remained the face of the party throughout, he encountered health issues that significantly impacted the DMDK’s trajectory.
Over the past couple of years, his inability to actively engage in rallies was noticeable. While he remained a presence at party gatherings, the reins were assumed by his wife Premalatha and her brother L K Sudheesh, leading meetings in his absence.

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