Readers Write In #360: Remembering Vivek: The Eternal ‘Sakhi’

Posted on May 6, 2021


(by Macaulay Perapulla)

I still remember the first update I got from Facebook about Vivek being admitted to the hospital. It was around 8 PM. It was the first surge of panic. “Oh God, Please don’t take him away”. And when my parents opened the TV set in the morning, the news hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn’t control my tears.

And honestly, my own reaction surprised me. I mean, I loved him to pieces. If you were born in the eighties and went to college during the 2000s, he was everywhere. His puns were the warp and woof of our language. He was a master at “kalaai” (There is no translation for this word) and we all wanted to be like him.


Perhaps, death does show a strange mirror to us. It shows us who we are from the prism of the relationships that held us all the while until a flick of light suddenly vanishes us. Poof! When the light suddenly vanishes, the absence is stark. The loss shakes you in ways you never expected it to.

Perhaps, that’s the fate of all comedians in this part of the country, who often, by strange coincidences, came with a larger package of talents than we cared to appreciate. They deserved far more recognition as actors, as singers, as musicians, than comedians with a bag full of punch lines and witty repartees.

When I look back at Vivek, more than anything else, my mind yearns to remember the reticent thaai maaman in Alaipayuthey. When I look back at Chandrababu, I remember him for his trendsetting music. (Do we care to rave about how liberating his music sounds even today?) When I look back at Nagesh, I want to remember how he broke my heart in Nammavar.

Perhaps, this has something to do with the perennial ‘sakhi’ myth comedians in this part of the country are fated to be in. ‘Sakhis’ have always been an important, albeit sidelined presence in the Indian mythology. ‘Sakhi’ is not just a friend, but a trusted advisor, and has the luxury of being a witness to the drama the poor hero goes through.

Perhaps, it is this emotional distance which gave them the ability to crack jokes. To look at reality in ways that are untrained to the hero’s ( and therefore our) eyes. It is this spiritual quality that attracts us in subliminal ways. We may see them as ‘sidekick’, enjoy their jokes and move on. It’s only when they pass, do we get a glimmer of the magnitude of the loss!

I will always miss the eternal sakhi Vivek !