Vivekanandan, named after Vivekananda the Hindu saint who revolutionised the religion, came to be known popularly as Vivekh. For his part Vivekh revolutionised Tamil cinema's comedy, introducing the trend of using humour as an agitprop for social messages.
The term 'introducing' is used here consciously. Though Vivekh earned the moniker 'Chinna kalaivaanar' for following the formula of Tamil comedy legend 'Kalaivaanar' NS Krishnan, after Krishnan Tamil cinema descended into obscene, slapstick and scatological comedy tracks and message-comedy was completely lost. So using the terms 'reintroducing' or 'revival' would not do justice for Vivekh's feat of bringing back social-messaging humour to the mainstream.
Vivekh's social-messages ranged from untouchability to education, from superstitions to modern health care. It could be said that the worth of his social messages had invented appropriate scenes and lines for itself thereby enhancing its quality and increasing its recall-value. Here are some of the memorable roles he had played which stands out not just for humour but also for its takeaways.
Unnamed role (Film - Tirunelveli)
Vivekh though has no name in this film, with the advent of google and internet people today search for the name of his character to no avail. A character with no name creating lasting impression speak volumes of its success and outreach. Vivekh is seen as an educated youth going back to his roots to find his people still intellectually underdeveloped. Every comedy scene in this film follows insensible practices observed in a village. Vivekh tries in vain to correct the villagers, people turning their back against him is the comic resolution.
Famous line: 'Ungala onnu illa, 1000 Periyar vandhaalum thirutha mudiyathu da' (Even 1000 Periyars would be insufficient to correct you people).
'Super' Subbu (Film - Kadhal Sadugudu)
This too follows the village-comedy line. Vivekh would've shown variation in the issues dealt with in this film's comedy scenes. 'Super' Subbu an American-return is upset with his native place's backwardness, but this time people do listen to him and mend their ways. Vivekh would've gracefully handled burning issues like female-infanticide, farmer suicide and birth control. However, since being a comedian one has to helplessly be at the receiving end, Vivekh gets stuck in rib-tickling problems as a result of him trying to bail out people out of their problems.
Famous line: Kozhaindhainga padippa baadhikkira endha vishayathayum anumadhikka maatan indha 'Super' Subbu ('Super' Subbu will not tolerate any practices coming in the way of children's education)
Mohan (Film - Run)
Strikingly different from the earlier two films, Vivekh ventures into the urban zone and tackles with city-based issues. Mohan lands at Chennai from his native Srirangam to meet his friend Siva (R Madhavan) and to find a job in the city after getting frustrated with his hometown and father. As fate has it, Mohan is conned by people in Chennai leading him into one problem after the other. Vivekh is on a roll with this film's comedy, as he speaks of aching issues in Chennai like water-scarcity which he relates to lorries wasting water and sewer issues. No wonder he won a Filmfare award for this role.
Famous line: Chennaila enga paathalum kozhaila kaathu dhaan varudhu, idhula oru tube-a soruguna cycle-kku kaathadichu pozhaikkalam idea illadha pasanga (Every pipe in Chennai is only filled with wind, people could earn fixing a tube to the tap to fill air in cycles but these guys are so uninventive - Vivekh combines water scarcity with unemployment in his own humourous style).
Venkataraman (Film - Saamy)
Vivekh playing a priest, hits out at casteism, air pollution and emphasises the importance of education. Venkataraman messes up with everyone upholding social evils. He talks in favour of oppressed communities, against activities causing pollution. In one particular scene where a boy is denied admission for the lack of good clothes, Venkataraman takes off a designed chair cover and makes a dress out of it pointing out what needs to be prioritised.
Famous line: Indha road-a pottadhu ava, indha veeta katnadhu ava, arisi godhuma, rava idhellam velayavekkuradhu ava, moththathula ava illana namalakku edhungaanum boova? (They (oppressed people) built your homes, they laid your roads and they cultivate your food how will you live your lives isolating them?).
Dr Subhash (Film - Jambavan)
Playing a doctor character, Vivekh as Dr Subhash comes to a village untouched by modern health-care system. He is looked upon as an iconoclast at first, but is later welcomed by the villagers. Setting up medical camps in the village, he puts across the importance of proper health care and comically pursues people to unlearn the taboos attached to health care system.
Famous line: Pudhu varsham porandha, osila calendar, diary kadaikkumaanu alaireenga aana arasangam polio marundha freeya kudukkudhu adha podamaatreenga. Aprom pulla kaala iluthukittu nadantha edho saamy kuththam nu kovil kovila odreenga (Wish people were as enthusiastic in receiving the free-of-cost polio vaccine as they eagerly await for free yearly diaries and calendars and if your child starts limping you take the temple run assuming you have incurred god's wrath).
More social messages are sprinkled in most of his films, but these films are always special in the list of social message-comedies. Through these films we could feel that actor Vivekh hasn't wasted a single space to give back to the society that has adored him for decades, even in his physical absence he has left us with these impactful and funny scenes for us to cherish the humour and live by the messages for all our lives.