Nageswaran C. Krishna Gundu Rao is a Tamil actor of great repute. He was born on 27 September 1933 in Dharapuram (Tamil Nadu) to Brahmin parents. After his father that dies at an early age, he became a victim of financial instability. He got his education from Madras and later began working in the Indian Railways as a clerk. He got fascinated with theater after his colleagues put up a Tamil play entitled Kamba Ramayanam. He insisted to the railway’s cultural association for a role.
Upon insisting, he was given a chance to act and was acknowledged by the chief guest of the event, M. G. Ramachandran. After doing some local acting, Nagesh was given his first stint in the film titled ‘Manamulla Marudhaaram’ in 1958, by none other than producer Balaji. His Kannada debut film, ‘Makkala Rajya’ was released in 1960. The high point in his career came after his 1964 blockbuster titled ‘
’. The film had him playing the lead role of a waiter, in love and his revelation from rags-to-riches (a story that was much like his own). However, the success ladder was quite short for him. His career suffered a downfall from around the mid-1970s.
In 1957, he married Regina, who was a Christian. The inter-caste marriage resulted in unhealthy relations with his family. In 1973, he lost his mother. Moreover, he had a tiff with M. G. Ramachandran after which he stopped getting work in the industry, owing to Ramachandran’s political and influence in general. He faced a financial crisis, leading to his theater’s detainment until he patched things up with Ramachandran later on. His career was resurging in the late 1980s with some good roles in few Rajnikanth movies, among others. In 1994, he received the National Award for Best Supporting Actor category for his work in Kamal Hassan’s ‘Nammavar’.
He was awarded Filmfare for Lifetime Achievement in 1995. In his early years, Nagesh did a handful of comic roles and his brilliance as a comedian fetched him the identity of being called the Jerry Lewis of India. Though his career had its ups and downs, at its peak, he was known to be filming six films at the same time. Unfortunately, he used to be a chain smoker and a bit of an alcoholic. Later, he became a heart patient, and diabetes deteriorated his health further. Eventually, he died on 31 January 2009.