Nagesh acted in Tamil films till a few months before his death in 2009. Notable among some of his later movies were Panchathanthiram, Vasool Raja MBBS, Imsai Arasan 23m Pulikesi, and his last appearance, Dasavathaaram. However, an animated version of him was seen in the 2014 performance capture film Kochadaiiyaan
Nagesh was a chain smoker and a heavy drinker in his early days. However, he gradually gave up these habits when he was dangerously ill during the late 1970s and early 1980s. His health began to decline in late 2008 due to progressive heart ailments. He died on 31 January 2009 at the age of 75 due to diabetes and a heart ailment.