Legendary director-writer-actor Visu passes away
Born in 1945, Meenakshisundaram Ramasamy Viswanathan, popularly known as Visu, entered the cinema industry as an assistant director to K Balachander
Veteran stage actor and multifaceted cinema personality Visu passed away in his Chennai today. He was 74. Visu, who suffered from kidney-related ailments over the last decade, breathed his last in a private hospital in Chennai after a massive cardiac arrest.
Born in 1945, Meenakshisundaram Ramasamy Viswanathan, popularly known as Visu, entered the cinema industry as an assistant director to K Balachander. An accomplished stage actor, Visu also wrote several popular films, including Rajinikanth's Netrikann and Thillu Mullu. He made his acting debut in his own script, Kudumbam Oru Kadhambam, which was directed by SP Muthuraman.
Known for his sharp wit and writing films based on social issues, Visu's evergreen hit, Samsaram Adhu Minsaram, became the first Tamil film to win the National Award for 'Best Popular film providing wholesome entertainment.'
Visu was also the first director to be sponsored by the Government of Tamil Nadu. His 1992 film, Neenga Nalla Irukkanum, based on prohibition, was the last onscreen appearance of actor-turned-politician and the then Chief Minister, J Jayalalithaa. It also won Visu his second National Award (for Best Film on Other Social Issues
Having made his directorial debut with Kanmani Poonga, Visu went on to make iconic films like Manal Kayiru, and Penmani Aval Kanmani. Dealing with topical issues like dowry harassment, widow remarriage, joint family vs nuclear family debates, Visu, much like his mentor K Balachander, was a forerunner in making successful films made on moderate budgets. Also, he was the primary draw in all his films and made projects completely independent of major stars of those times.
Visu, who last directed Sigamani Ramamani, starring his frequent collaborator S Ve Sekhar, was also celebrated for his stint on television. Arattai Arangam, his long-running debate show on Sun TV saw Visu travel places talking about social issues plaguing the country. This show also showcased his philanthropic side. He also conducted the show, Visuvin Makkal Arangam, on Jaya TV.
Visu was last seen in Manal Kayiru 2, the sequel to one of his earliest directorial successes, Manal Kayiru. He later took a sabbatical from work after kidney-related ailments kept him away from active life.
Visu is survived by his wife and three daughters.