C. Krishna Rao Gundu Rao (b. September 27, 1933 - d.January 31, 2009), better known by his screen name Nagesh , was a Tamil film actor, mostly remembered for his roles as a comedian during the 1960s. He is regarded as one of the most prolific comedians in Tamil cinema. Nagesh was born in a poor Kannada family from Dharapuram, Madras Presidency. He was educated in Madras and worked as a clerk in the Indian Railways before carving a place for himself in the Tamil film industry. He acted in over 1,000 Indian movies from 1958 to 2008 performing in a variety of roles as comedian, hero, supporting actor and villain. He died on January 31, 2009. In a stark contrast to the comic roles he performed, Nagesh's personal life was wrought with suffering. After losing his father at an early age, Nagesh had to endure a weak financial situation and family ostracism which plagued him throughout his life. The film Server Sundaram, a rags-to-riches story in which Nagesh plays the main role is believed to be roughly based on the real life story of the actor. Despite being primarily a comedian, Nagesh was rated highly as a character actor by his peers. Nagesh's style of comedy was largely inspired by Hollywood icon Jerry Lewis. Similarities between Nagesh and Jerry Lewis earned Nagesh the sobriquet "Jerry Lewis of India". Early in his life, he saw a Tamil play Kamba Ramayanam enacted by his colleagues, and felt that he could do a good job. He persuaded the secretary of the Railways cultural association to give him the role of a man suffering from stomach pain. MGR, then chief guest, seeing this play, in his speech praised Nagesh for his performance. From then onwards, Nagesh played small roles in various drama troupes... In 1958, producer Balaji spotted Nagesh and gave him his first break in a film called Manamulla Marudhaaram. The film did not do well at the box office. Moreover, Nagesh had only a small role to play in the movie. In 1960, Nagesh made his debut in Kannada with Makkala Rajya. Nagesh won critical acclaim for his performance in the 1961 movie Thayilla Pillai. But it was his 1962 hit Nenjil Oru Aalayam which launched his career in the Tamil film industry. Nagesh was signed for K. Balachander's Server Sundaram in which he played the main role. The movie was a remarkable hit and launched the career of directorial career of K. Balachander. Server Sundaram marked Nagesh's rise to prominence. The film was about a restaurant waiter "server" Sundaram who struggles to make his ends meet. Moreover, he is in love with Radha (K. R. Vijaya), the daughter of the owner of the hotel in which he is working. The film is about how with the aid of his rich friend Raghavan (R. Muthuraman), "server" Sundaram gets a chance to act in movies and eventually, emerges as a rich and prominent actor. However, he is heartbroken when he learns that Radha is actually in love with Raghavan. While Nagesh drives viewers into laughter with his comical antics in the early scenes, his sensitive portrayal of a failed lover in the second half of the movie too earned widespread appreciation. The rags-to-riches story in the movie was actually based on Nagesh's own life. With Server Sundaram, Nagesh earned critical acclaim for versatility. The success of Server Sundaram ensured that Nagesh was one of the most sought-after actors in the 1960s. At the height of his career, he acted in as much as 35 movies in a single calendar year, at one time, shooting for six movies simultaneously. He appeared in a cameo in the 1965 mythological Thiruvilayadal in which he portrayed the poor, simply temple priest Dharumi. The soliloquy which Dharmi indulges in, within the temple precints, is regarded as one of the unforgettable scenes of Tamil cinema. He followed the success with supporting roles in films as Kadhalikka Neramillai, Anbe Vaa, Shanti Nilayam, Pattanathil Bhootham and Vietnam Veedu. He played the role of Mohan in Major Chandrakant which was a popular hit and won for its lead actor Sundararajan, the nickname "Major" Sundararajan. His portrayal of the detestable pimp Vaidhy in Thillana Mohanambal was noted for the way in which Nagesh blended humour with villany. In most of his films as comedian, Nagesh paired with the actress Manorama. In 1967, Nagesh acted in his first Hindi movie Farz Apart from performing in supporting roles, Nagesh also acted as the main protagonist in a number of movies. Server Sundaram is one of them. Another performance which is well-remembered is his role as the poor struggling orphan Maadhu in Ethir Neechal. His sensitive and sympathetic portrayal of Maadhu evoked comparisons with top character actors of the day. Jayakanthan chose Nagesh to play the lead in the 1966 film Yaarukkaha Azhudhan overlooking Sivaji Ganesan. Nagesh's career enjoyed a partial resurgence from the 1980s onwards when he acted in a number of movies, mostly in elderly roles, some of them as the villain. His most remembered role as a villain was in the 1989-hit Apoorva Sagodharargal. The movie was later dubbed into Hindi as Appu Raja. He also played the villain in Rajinikanth films Padikkadhavan and Athisaya Piravi and Mounam Sammadham. His negative roles comprised of sadistic schemers than muscular giants. In the comedy flick, Michael Madana Kama Rajan, Nagesh played the role of a dishonest secretary Avinashi who commissions a look-alike Kameswaran to impersonate his boss, Madan, and lend him money from Madan's account. He even acted as a dead body in the 1994 film Magalir Mattum. He won a National Award as Best Supporting Actor for his role in the 1994 film Nammavar. Nagesh did a series of supporting roles in the 1990s and 2000s. Notable among them were those of make-up artist Joseph in Avvai Shanmugi in which he featured alongside another veteran Gemini Ganesan, Arjun's father in Rhythm, Madhavan's grandfather Subbuni in Minnale, Ajit's father in Poovellam Un Vasam, Father Rozario in Kadhal Kondain and Kamal Hassan's father in Vasool Raja MBBS. His handling of these roles gained him considerable appreciation from the public. Nagesh had an intimate personal relationship with Kamal Hassan, with whom he had co-starred in a variety of movies from the 1970s to the 2000s. Kamal Hassan casted Nagesh in most of his self-productions. Nagesh was a self-taught man who believed that an actor could learn from watching life and its characters. He would often sit in his car on busy roadsides and watch the people on the streets to grasp the mannerisms of people that he would later re-enact on screen. On the personal front Nagesh was one of the few comedians to have acted with both MGR and Sivaji and invested his money in real estate. Later on, He died on 31 January, 2009 at the age of 75 due to diabetes and a heart ailment while he was admitted in Balaji Hospital. He is survived by three sons, including actor Anand Babu. Overall, Nagesh acted in over 1,000 films in most South Indian languages, apart from Hindi. Apart from films, he also performed as a stage actor and acted in tele serials. The last teleserial appearance of his was in the 2001 production Krishnadasi, in which he appeared as colleague Vietnam Veedu Sundaram's father. Nagesh was a chain smoker and a heavy drinker. His health began to decline in late 2008 due to heart ailments. He died on 31 January, 2009 at the age of 75 due to diabetes and a heart ailment while he was admitted in Balaji Hospital.