The actors of Tamil cinema have always been adored by fans and critics for their diversifying performances. They always receive a huge amount of respect from everyone given their star status and contribution to the film industry. Supporting actors do what their title suggests, they are the supporting pillars for a film without whom the film may be flimsy and bland. Yet they are not given the same amount of recognition or respect as the lead actors do. So let us look at some supporting actors who also deserve the spotlight for their ability to pull off any role with ease (in no particular order of importance):
Since the 1990s, Vadivelu started performing in supporting roles and has played as many as 15 to 20 movies a year during the late 90s. The trademark was self-deprecation humour as all his characters thought very highly of themselves – they were usually comical versions. But the actor also possesses the talent of taking on intense roles as well which has remained untapped by filmmakers as they continue using his skills for comic performance. His work in Thevar Magam, Sangamam, Friends, Arya, Thalainagaram, Peraanmai, Imsai Arasan 23rd Pulikesi, etc. continue to remain unparalleled pieces of work.
Nassar made his acting debut in K. Balachander's Kalyana Agathigal (1985) in a secondary supporting role, before moving on to play villainous roles in Velaikaran and Vanna Kanavuga. He subsequently became a regular in Mani Ratnam and Kamal Haasan's ventures, appearing in pivotal supporting roles in Roja (1992), Thevar Magan (1992), Bombay (1995), Kuruthipunal (1995) and Iruvar (1997). Nassar is a legend by all means who has set high standards for acting.
3) PRAKASH RAJ:
Being a polyglot, Prakash Raj is the go-to man in the South Indian film industries as he is able to put his best foot forward irrespective of the role he plays. He has portrayed a variety of roles, most notably as the antagonist and a supporting actor. He has won a National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1998 for Mani Ratnam's Iruvar.
After starting his career playing antagonistic roles, Sathyaraj turned a lead hero and delivered many successful hits. After his run as a lead actor, Sathyaraj shifted gears and started to play supporting roles and the journey has been exceptionally impressive. Some of his highly memorable performances as a supporting actor can be seen in films like Nanban, Raja Rani, Baahubali, Baahubali 2 and Kanaa.
5) MS BHASKAR:
He made his film debut in 1987 in a small role in the film Thirumathi Oru Vegumathi. This was followed by several films in the 1990s, in which he appeared in supporting roles that he ended up excelling in. His acting range and natural talent won him several accolades. Bhaskar is someone who can pull off both comic and intense and emotional roles with high conviction. His top-class performance in movies like 8 Thottakkal and Mozhi would stay fresh in the minds of the audience.
6) ELANGO KUMARAVEL:
After Kumaravel was introduced to Radha Mohan, he ended up being a regular in his films. He garnered acclaim for his supporting role in films like Azhagiya Theeye, Abhiyum Naanum and Kurangu Bommai. Due to his versatile acting range, he has got a spot on this list. He is yet to be fully explored by our filmmakers and let us hope that they do.
7) GURU SOMASUNDARAM:
Guru made his debut in Aaranya Kaandam winning critical acclaim for his role. He later went on to take many supporting roles in films like Pandiya Naadu, Jigarthanda and Joker, which skyrocketed his career. He recently rose to grand fame for playing the role of a supervillain in the 2021 Netflix film Minnal Murali.
8) DELHI GANESH:
He was introduced to Tamil cinema by K. Balachander in the film Pattina Pravesam. His most popular roles have been as a supporting actor or a comedian in Tamil cinema and serials but have also played villainous roles in films like Apoorva Sagodharargal. This goes on to show the actor's range in the artform. The ex-Indian Air Force personnel, he has acted in supporting roles in Tamil cinema and serials. He has acted in more than 400 films from 1976 to the present.
9) GEORGE MARYAN:
His iconic performances as a supporting character in Madrasapattinam and Kaithi has put him on the map. Let us hope to witness more of him in diverse roles.
He ventured into the film business in the early 2000s as a producer but later turned actor, with Cheran's 2007 film, Mayakannadi. Subsequently, performing a variety of supporting roles, he found a lot more success playing such roles and in turn giving notable performances in Pasanga, Naadodigal, Naan Mahaan Alla, Yuddham Sei, Mankatha, Moodar Koodam and Pannaiyarum Padminiyum.
He has appeared in critically acclaimed roles in many notable films in Tamil cinema, playing supporting, antagonistic, comedic as well as protagonist roles. His performance in E (2006) earned him several awards for Best Supporting Actor. He has also appeared in Malayalam, Telugu, and Kannada films. Some of his best performances include Veyil, Mumbai Xpress,Virumandi, and the recent hit Sarpatta Parambarai.
12) THAMBI RAMAIAH:
He made a breakthrough as an actor portraying a friendly cop in Prabhu Solomon's romantic film Mynaa and won the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance. He subsequently won positive reviews for his performances as a supporting actor in films including Saattai, Kumki and Kathai Thiraikathai Vasanam Iyakkam.
13) KAALI VENKAT:
He mainly plays supporting roles in Tamil films and is known for his earnest performances in Thegidi, Mundaasupatti, Kaathadi, Urumeen, India Pakistan, Eetti and Soorarai Pottru.
He is a writer and an aspiring director who also stars in movies in supporting roles. His immense understanding of character has helped him bring out the best of him on screen. He can take up intense roles like that of Raja Kannu in Jai Bhim and can also play lighthearted roles as he did in Aelay.
He has acted in several films as well and is best known for his performances in a supporting role in movies such as Subramaniapuram, Easan, Saattai, Velaiyilla Pattathari, Oppam and Krack. He won the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2016 for his role in Visaranai.