Raghuvaran, born in Palakkad, Kerala, has contributed immensely to Tamil cinema with his stellar performances. He has a particular handsomeness, vulnerability, and flamboyance to his acting that entrances us all. Raghuvaran’s filmography proves that as much as commercial Tamil cinema focuses on the opulence of its central hero, the supporting cast cannot help but capture the attention of the audience. These are just some of Raghuvaran’s most iconic roles in his career.
Anjali is a tragic tale written and directed by Mani Ratnam. Here we witness Raghuvaran as a soft yet solid father figure and husband in this heartbreaking family drama. Raghuvaran plays the role of Shekhar, a simple man who loves and cares for his family yet has a painful secret. He has had to keep the truth—that his last child is still alive—away from his family. When the truth is shattered before them, the family dynamic shifts. Raghuvaran handles the role of Shekhar just as delicately as Shekhar handles his ill daughter, Anjali. There are no outbursts, no dramatics, and no exaggerations in his character. He is merely a helpless father trying to keep his daughter alive. And Raghuvaran excels in this.
One of the greatest blockbuster hits in Rajinikanth’s career features this stellar performance by Raghuvaran as Anthony. They say a hero’s acting strength can only be etched out against the contrast of the villain. After Neelambari in Padayappa, Raguvaran’s Anthony is one of the most memorable villain roles in a Rajni film. He brings an eccentric, lucid characterization of Anthony to life. There is almost a twinge of flamboyance in his depiction of Anthony in contrast to Baasha. Where Baashha is stern and bold, Anthony is snarky and teasing, never giving Baashha the full recognition of being his nemesis until Baashha proves himself.
Samsaram Adhu Minsaram (1986)
Visu is a marvelous writer when it comes to bringing out the daily intricacies of domestic life. His writing foundationally understands the complexity of the middle-class family, and here is where Raghuvaran seamlessly brings out the character of Chidhambaram. He is selfish, conceited, and willfully ignorant of his surroundings. The powerhouse of the film, Uma, played by Lakshmi, is never overshadowed by Raghuvaran but instead is perfectly contrasted with his performance. A special shout-out should go to his outfit, an incredibly out-of-place and obnoxious silk shirt and vesti that contrast the normal clothing everybody else wears. He carries that outfit so well that it blends with his character’s arrogance.
Yaaradi Nee Mohini (2008)
Raghuvaran plays the perfect role as a father to Dhanush in this tragic romantic film. Many have commented on how perfectly he was cast in the role, as both of them share many similar mannerisms and characteristics. The aged Raghuvaran performance is nothing short of brilliance, depicting a disgruntled, disappointed, yet distantly doting father to an unemployed son. This fatherly role is never reluctant to tell his son the hard facts of life, even when those words may hurt him. But when he can visibly see his son struggle through heartache, he tries his best, going to lengths that may embarrass him, to bring happiness back into his son’s life.
Although he suffered through alcoholism and an unhappy marriage, Raghuvaran struggled his whole life to fix them both. His life and his work are an example to us all to keep striving for happiness and to keep working towards the world we yearn to live in. We are truly grateful to have witnessed an actor of such caliber in our lifetime. Here’s to keeping his memory and his art alive for generations to come.