Vadivelu did not have a formal education, but continued to partake in local stage plays during his youth, usually in a comic role. The family was so poor that his father died during that period of time. He met Rajkiran on a train while on his way to Chennai to visit his bride-to-be. Rajkiran later recalled that he was so amused by their conversation during the train ride that he agreed to give Vadivelu a role in his upcoming film, En Rasavin Manasile directed by Kasthuri Raja.
Starting as a sidekick to the famed Goundamani-Senthil comedy duo, Vadivelu rose to prominence after his role in Kadhalan (1994), although his debut film was En Thangai Kalyani directed by T. Rajendar. He later went on to perform numerous acclaimed roles, including Friends, Bharathi Kannamma, Vetri Kodi Kattu, Winner, Giri, Thalainagaram, Marudhamalai and Chandramukhi. He played the lead in the blockbuster Imsai Arasan 23am Pulikesi (2006) where he played a dual role of twin brothers. His next film in a lead role was Indiralogathil Na Azhagappan (2008), which was however a failure.