When Tamil Cinema bid goodbye to Raghuvaran I couldn’t take it. He was very much like Nagesh. He wasn’t gifted with the ideal physique for an actor yet by the time he left us his shoes were too big to fill.
My first glimpse of Raghuvaran was the iconic ” I know, I know and I know”. I don’t remember anything else from the film till date but this is still a scary memory. I say scary because I was terrified at a tender age and spent sleepless nights thinking that he was a real pyscho. When I could finally comprehend what Raghuvaran was doing on screen everything he did on screen seemed like a miracle.
He was an actor who didn’t believe in loud noises and screams. There was a lot of subtle nuances and self awareness to what he did on screen. He didn’t believe in the gimmicks of physical transformation. Instead he put himself out there as he was in every iconic role that he played over the years.
Sometimes all he needed was just one scene to make an impression. In Samsaram Adhu Minsaram the entire plot hinges on Lakshmi yet the most pivotal scene in the movie thrives on Raghuvaran’s angry outburst. Up until then Raghuvaran is merely a spectator in the film. But it is difficult to look away when Raghuvaran takes over. Even in the iconic Baasha you can actually count the number of scenes with Raghuvaran. He comes in the second half, steals all the limelight and walks away with all the honours. Take Raghuvaran out and there is no Baasha.
As the chief minister in Mudhalvan he was relentless, unapologetic and cunning. Even in the dying moments he has the last word in a cat and mouse conflict. Those final words ” That was a good interview”. In a way he actually wins the David Vs Goliath battle. More often than not we have praised the Davids of our stories who have been eternal underdogs.
For a change there is a detour. Goliath has the last word even in his dying moments as David’s hand is forced. Despite the glory of his negative avatars it is difficult to overlook the softer performances. There’s Shiva from Mugavari , the grossly underrated Sekar from Anjali , Raghu from Aaha or theArtist in Tirumalai. All of these performances tug your heart in one way or the other. Even in a struggling final performance in Yaaradi Nee Mohini he braves the odds and gives the best he can.
The loss of Raghuvaran is a void that can never be filled. Among the galaxy of stars he was the sun that outshone them all. The transistion from being a mere henchmen to a cunning villain to being someone like us in those softer roles is remarkable. His onscreen avatars are timeless treasures to be cherished. The fact that he did all of this without resorting to theatrics makes it even more special.
There will be no one like him again. He was one of a kind. I have just scratched the surface of an ocean called Raghuvaran. There is so much more. For now all I can say is ” We miss you Raghu”. It’s been 11 years since the actor left us.