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Deep inside the angry man was a golden heart – Times of India


On February 1, 2012, when Vijayakant, then the leader of the opposition in the Tamil Nadu assembly, bit his teeth and gesticulated menacingly at chief minister Jayalalithaa, he was at his natural best: Real, emotional, and very angry.
And deep inside the angry man was a golden heart. For decades, thousands of people have been beneficiaries of his unpublicised acts of charity. If anyone needed money for medicine, education, marriage or to set up a livelihood, a letter to Vijayakant’s address was enough.
From the dusty outskirts of Madurai to the tinsel town of Kodambakkam and later to the assembly, this rice mill owner’s son had an eventful journey. His silver screen dreams materialised when director M A Khaja cast him as Vijayakant in ‘Inikkum Ilamai’ in 1979, which did not set the box office on fire. A string of flops followed until director S A Chandrasekar’s ‘Sattam Oru Iruttarai’ became a commercial blockbuster and established him as a star.
He earned the sobriquet ‘Captain’ after his 100th film, ‘Captain Prabhakaran’, became a massive blockbuster.
For long he remained apolitical, despite his leaning towards Karunanidhi and closeness to Congress leader G K Moopanar. He was equally open in his love and support for LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran. .But he eventually took the plunge and launched DMDK in September 2005. He flaunted the blue campaign van (TNW 2005) of MGR, presented to him by Janaki Ramachandran, at the party launch. DMDK tried to brand him as ‘Karuppu MGR’ (Black MGR).
Contesting all the 234 assembly seats, DMDK polled more than 8% votes in its debut in 2006, but Vijayakant was the only winner. After the DMK government tried to bring down a marriage hall he owned, Vijyakant gravitated towards AIADMK and struck a ‘friendly alliance’ with Jayalalithaa in 2011 polls.
The party won 29 out of 41 assembly seats it contested and he became leader of the opposition, pushing DMK to the third position. However, his interventions in support of his party members led to Jayalalithaa regretting AIADMK’s alliance with Vijayakant. Soon, eight DMDK MLAs shifted their allegiance to AIADMK, costing Vijayakant the leader of the opposition’s post.
It was the beginning of a downhill journey. A congratulatory pat from PM Modi, after he became an NDA ally in 2014, was a blip that did not help him politically. That alliance too didn’t last and Vijayakant went on to head the four-party alliance, People’s Welfare Front, in the 2016 assembly elections. The alliance came a cropper, and his health started failing. He never recovered on either front.


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