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. Second movie was En Rasavin Manasile (1991), directed by Kasthoori Raja. Some of his most famous movies are Friends, Bharathi Kannamma, Vetri Kodi Kattu, Winner, Giri, Thalainagaram, Marudhamalai and Chandramukhi. The actor 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 big failure.
On 21 September 2008, Vadivelu’s residence in the Saligramam neighbourhood in Chennai was pelted with stones by a gang, leaving several windows and furniture smashed and damaged. The actor had taken refuge in a room in his home and was safe. Vadivelu is said to have suspected Vijayakanth because of a recent case he had filed against Vijayakanth for assault and the final court hearing was to take place the next day. He suspected that the attack may have occurred to prevent Vadivelu from attending the hearing. As a result, Vadivelu filed another case against Vijayakanth for attempted murder. He later mentioned his interest in competing against Vijayakanth in the next assembly elections and “teaching him a lesson.” In response, actor Vijayakanth told a press meet on 22 September that Vadivelu’s allegations are based on hearsay.
In 2010, Vadivelu held a press conference, accusing fellow comedian and actor Singamuthu for forgery and financial cheating. Vadivelu, who was previously friends with Singamuthu, purchased land from him but later came to learn that the documents were void. This resulted in the former taking legal action on the latter.
During the legislative assembly elections that took place in Tamil Nadu during April 2011, Vadivelu vehemently campaigned for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and its alliance. During his public speeches, he predominantly condemned politician and actor Vijayakanth, whose party, the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), allied with the opposition party All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), headed by Jayalalithaa. His allegations of Vijayakanth included him being a “drunkard”. In a campaign speech in Tiruvarur, Vadivelu stated that “(his) only aim is to sweep out Vijayakanth’s whole team and to campaign vigorously for DMK’s victory”. Vadivelu was criticised as being biased, only supporting a DMK-led victory for personal gains and not once mentioning anything against the official opposition, the AIADMK, or its leader. In a turn of events, the election was eventually successful for the AIADMK alliance, while Vijayakanth was victorious by a significant margin in his own constituency. Vadivelu later admitted his defeat and warned that he hopes to see Vijayakanth fulfill his role as an elected politician.
Afterward, Vadivelu became absent from media appearances and took a two-year hiatus from acting. He signed up to play a double role in the film Tenaliraman, his third film as hero. The film did decent business at the box office.