Tamil News

Vietnam Veedu Sundaram Dies At 73

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Vietnam Veedu Sundaram, veteran writer and actor, died early today morning in Chennai. He was 73 and is survived by his wife Chella, and two daughters.

Sundaram debuted as a writer with Vietnam Veedu in 1970. The film was a super-hit at the box-office, and fetched him the Tamil Nadu State Government award. He has to his credit over 350 films in Hindi, Telugu, Kannada and Tamil. Sundaram spent three decades in the Tamil film industry, working with the likes of Sivaji Ganesan, MGR, Rajinikanth, Kamal Hassan, Sathyaraj, Karthik Muthuraman among others. He was honoured with the prestigious Arignar Anna Award in 1991.As a child, Sundaram had very little by way of education. At the age of 13, he joined Dunlop as a machine operator. Later, he joined United Amateur Artistes run by Y.G.

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Parthasarathy. From there, he went on to have a formidable career writing and directing stage plays. He was actor Sivaji Ganesan’s favourite writer, staging plays such as Vietnam Veedu, Gnana Oli and Gouravam with him. They were runaway hits, with Vietnam Veedu being staged over 1000 times in Tamil Nadu alone. It’s success prompted Sivaji to give the young playwright a new name – Vietnam Veedu Sundaram. Even as a budding playwright, Sundaram knew that he would have to be different, if he were to succeed. “At that time, the trends needed to be changed. And I wanted to change them, too.”

He credited his creation Prestige Padamanabhan as the inspiration for his inspiration to keep working. “Vietnam Veedu is about how retirement affects the principles and prestige of a man. It is the thought that a similar situation should not happen to me that keeps me going till date.”

With three back to back hits with Sivaji Ganesan, Sundaram felt restless and without identity. “If you put a drop of water in the pool, it gets lost in it. There’s no identity. But if you keep it on top of a rose, it will glitter in the sunlight. I jumped into the pool, and got stuck between two legendary actors. Balachander maintained his individuality and shined. That’s when I knew that I had to do something different.”

That is when ‘social mythology’ happened. Credited with introducing it into Tamil Cinema, Sundaram used it to great effect in films such as Namma Veettu Dheivam. “I wanted to make a new kind of film. Gods can be humans. They take human form frequently. Why can’t humans be Gods? I explored this idea in many films at that time. KR Vijaya became a frequent collaborator in my efforts,” he said in an interview with a news channel.

His writing took him to newer avenues. Writing for television serials such as Krishnadasi and acting in quite a few of them too, Sundaram became a familiar face to a new generation of people.

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With a starring role in My Dear Bhootham, he acquired a new name – ‘Bhootham Thatha’.

Vietnam Veedu Sundaram was one of the best screenwriters Tamil cinema has seen… He was a simple, good-natured man and his death is a big loss to Tamil cinema”, said J Jayalalitha, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, in an official press release. 

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