Wednesday, March 19, 2008

RIP - Raghuvaran

With Raghuvaran's demise yesterday, we lost one of our finest and most popular character actors. With a style all his own, he played every role - be it maniacal bad guy or affectionate father - with elan. As a tribute to him, here are a few of my favorite Raghuvaran performances.

Poovizhi Vaasalile - Raghuvaran simply watched from a distance without getting his hands dirty but still scared us with his cold-heartedness as he relentlessly pursued a child. The otherwise-innocuous limp and cane somehow added to his character's evil.

Udhayam(Shiva) - He redefined villainy with his performance as Bhavani, the gang leader. He exuded menace without raising his voice or even scowling and his every expression and action was designed to add a little more to his psychopathic nature and utter ruthlessness.

Anjali - He was superb in the difficult role of a father burdened by a secret he hid from his own wife and children. Through his measured speech and patient actions, he made it amply clear that he was the family's emotional anchor and would help them sail through all their problems.

Puriyaadha Pudhir - When one talks about sadistic, suspicious husband roles in Tamil cinema, Rajni in AvargaL and Raghuvaran in Puriyaadha Pudhir are the two that spring to mind right away. Raghuvaran's snide remarks, delivered with his famous sneering smile, stung hard and his smooth, normal conversations right before exploding with anger at Rekha gave new meaning to the phrase "calm before the storm". His role was rather short but the physical and psychological abuse he put Rekha through made him utterly detestable.

Baasha - Mark Anthony is remembered just as well as Manick Baasha and that was due to Raghuvaran bringing his own touch to the otherwise cliched dada's role. He was terrific as always as the bad guy and bristled in the encounters with Rajni.

Mugavari - Another movie that revealed that he could play soft characters just as well as he played villains. He perfectly conveyed the affection he held for his little brother and touchingly supported his pursuit of his dream.

Run - Raghuvaran brought to comedy the same subtlety that he brought to villainy. Through just his actions and expressions, he made us laugh at the friction between him and his brother-in-law Madhavan. He wonderfully brought out the confusion at the actions of his wife and her brother and his silent, underplayed comedy was an effective counterpoint to Vivek's more overt comedy track.

He will definitely be missed. May his soul rest in peace...


At 10:56 PM, Blogger Kay said...

Well said. Raghuvaran was known for his lazy drawl and very nonchalant style of acting and for accurately evolving into the character. He was a multi talented personality who could poignantly convey emotions just by looking soulfully into the camera or by nudging his spectacles up with one finger. He made acting look effortless. He became the character rather than portraying one.

One of his best performances was in Run where he so beautifully acts as a foil to Madhavan.

So unfortunate that Tamil cinema has lost a versatile actor. RIP Raghuvaran Sir...

At 11:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the sad thing about Raghuvaran was he was straight jacketed into the kind of maniac /over the top /eccentric villains. he of course did the roles perfectly. But there was much more to the man!
like Ed Harris or William Defoe he could sometimes steal scenes from the " so called" heroes.
He did have a great debut in " ezhavathu manithan and was convincing as the guilt ridden protagonist in Sridhar's " Odai Nadiyaagirathu"
even in the otherwise illogical "Dost" his portrayal made us forget "the huge gaps in logic " of SAC's screenplay.

this was a premature death he had at least a decade and a half of work left in him!


At 11:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It really is a huge loss to Tamil cinema.
I never come across a person who doesn't like Raghuvaran.

At 12:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and who can forget the Interview scene in Mudhalvan! How the tension slowly builds up to the crescendo when Arjun picks the gauntlet thrown by Raghuvaran. The scene wasn't the same in Hindi - eventhough Amrish Puri was an equally good actor. The scene lacked the mischief cum nonchalance which slowly gives way to irritation,annoyance and then losing balance- raghuvaran did bring out all this very well!

At 1:43 AM, Blogger D.E.V said...

i like Raghuvaran's performance in "Aaha" and his villian performance in "Kadalan" amd "dosth". we all are definetely going to miss him :(.

It has been a rather unfortunate year for tamil cinema so far with the demise of a great writer (sujatha" and now a great actor!

At 2:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To add to his list of performance, I like Love Today where he played the fun and affectionate father very well and I especially like his performance in Aaha.

Truly one of the great character artists of our time and another sore loss for Tamil cinema (hopefully no more). May his soul rest in peace.

At 3:58 AM, Blogger Prasad said...

Its a loss that would never be made up. The vaccum Raghuvaran has left will remain void for a long time, or forever.

I sincerely pray for his soul to rest in peace.

At 4:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This new is definitely unexpected.

I really liked him in Anjali.

At 5:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets not stick to Tamil movie classifications, in true Hollywood style he was an actor who could do any role and was a virtual scene stealer. He had his own fan following and is the only Rajini villain to be clapped for his on screen appearence in a Rajini movie.

We have lost a classic actor in the mold of MR Radha unique in everyway.


At 7:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I especially liked his brief role in Kandukondaen Kandukondaen. Somehow, in those frames, he stood out more than Tabu and Ajith.

At 7:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

feel really bad about raghuvaran passing away...he had a kind of genius that was twisted, unique and absolutely brilliant...
superb villain / character actor...did roles as diverse as the father in "anjali," the responsible family man in "aaha," CM in "Muthalvan," the affectionate annan in "mugavari," the boss in "Kandukonden" (nethu randu overseas calls...shoo...over the head!) and the villain in "baasha." chance-ey illaadha dialogue delivery...feel really bad...but this was always coming, given his drug addiction + alcohol problems...but still, paavam...

some snippets from my reviews:
If Mohan’s excellent dialogue is the foundation, it is the performances that are the pillars holding this movie. Raghuvaran and Bhanupriya are the best, giving subtle, sensitive performances. They are so at ease with their characters that in the last scene we’re thinking, “I am so happy for Raji and Raghu!”
Raghuvaran, the master of understated character acting, is perfectly cast as the person who loves his family and yet has to be a tad dishonest to them. Raghuvaran is a performer who can evoke respect and awe automatically with his patient way of explaining something and he does exactly that in the scene where she literally enlightens the kids (and us) on why Anjali was born.

May his soul rest in peace...

At 7:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who can ever forget the CM he played in Mudhalvan? Esp him pushing back his hair and drinking water nervously when bombarded with Arjun's questions. I simply love the part where he challenges Arjun by stating some cold facts about politics.

And in Puriyadha Pudhir, his line" I know it, I know it", is one of the most memorable lines of all time. Only Raghuvaran can manage to make such a simple phrase sound that malicious. He proved that an actor doesn't need pages and pages of dialouge to showcase his acting prowess.

He also gave a stellar performance as Tulsi in Amarkalam. IMO he completely stole the show from Ajith.

May his soul rest in peace.


At 8:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

-- May Raguvarans soul rest in peace.
This is very sad. My prayers are with his family members. May God give his son, wife and parents all the strength to cope through this loss.
49 is not an age to die. This is really sad.

Ven Sharma, Ashburn, VA

At 9:03 AM, Blogger giri subramanian said...

Its really a great loss to Tamil cinema. Raghuvaran was one of my favorite character artist in Tamil Cinema. He will surely be missed.

At 10:50 AM, Blogger Orange Fronkey said...

Such an unbelievable loss. I absolutley loved his roles in Anjali, Puriyatha pudhir and Thottachinungi and many more... May his soul rest in peace.

He's in a better place.

At 11:05 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

kaykay, try as i did, i couldn't come up with a way to explain his style of dialog delivery accurately. but as far his acting goes, i think u said it perfectly when u say "he made acting look effortless" :)

vengayam, missed 'mudhalvan' on my list but the way u described that interview scene brought the memories back vividly :)

parthi, so true. almost all actors have people in both camps of 'like' and 'don't like' but haven't met anyone in the latter camp for raghuvaran :)

skanda, oh yes, the brother's role in 'aaha' was another one i missed . and yeah, this year has started rather badly for tamil cinema in more ways than one.

balaji, don't remember much about 'love today' but his performance in 'aaha' is still fresh in my mind, esp. that shy smile when banupriya sings 'azhagiya raghuvarane...' during the antakshari :)

prasad, yep :)

utbtkids, yes that was one of his best roles :)

kp, i agree. i myself have felt a burst of energy when he showed up in even otherwise boring movies :)

anon, not sure why but i just can't seem to recollect him in KK.

ram, yes his dialog delivery made him really unique. and that movie list sure shows his versatility :)

gayatri, both wonderful scenes there that proved that he could make a scene stand out by underplaying it :)

ven, nicely said :)

giri, most people echo ur sentiments i'm sure :)

merino, "He's in a better place" - nicely put :)

At 1:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RIP -- Shoban Babu passes away
Telugu actor Shoban Babu passed away this morning at 11 a.m. at the Chennai Apollo Hospital. He was 70.


At 1:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Balaji: Apart from all the ones that you have mentioned, I especially liked his performance in "Samsaram athu Minsaram". No words to describe the way he portrayed that character.

At 6:31 PM, Blogger Bart said...

Good list. Almost all his remarkable movies are covered with commentors bringing up Muthalvan, Aaha, Samsaram Adhu minsaram and Love today.
I would also add up R.C.Sakthi's "Kootu Puzhukkal" to the list. Very well underplayed hero role....
In few of his last interviews, he had mentioned his passion for music and bringing up some albums of his own. He had also mentioned that he had composed quite some stuff so far. Wish it comes out. It would probably bring out a different persona in him.
May his soul rest in peace. As someone said (I think it was Karu. Pazhaniappan or K.S. Ravikumar), tamil cinema didn't use Raghuvaran to his full potential when he was younger...

At 8:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RIP Raghuvaran.....

Tamil Cinema will miss you very much...

At 8:07 PM, Blogger Bharathwaj said...

Great article. Heres the video for it :).


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