TAMIL SUPER STAR SIVAJI GANESAN PASSES AWAY
By Our Movie Correspondent
Sivaji Ganesan, the colossus of Tamil cinema, passed away in Chennai on July 21 at the age of 74. Ganesan was given the name 'Sivaji' by the late 'Periyar' E V Ramaswamy Naicker after his performance as the Marathi warrior king in the stage play 'Sivaji Kanda Indu Saamraajyam'.
Ganesan was admitted to the Apollo Hospital on July 12 when he complained of a breathing problem. He also had a cardiac problem since a long time. He was shifted to the intensive care unit (ICU) after some renal complications set in.
Ganesan is survived by his wife, Kamalammal, two sons and two daughters. Sivaji's actor son Prabhu, who was shooting in Switzerland, was expected back in Chennai soon. Kalaipuli Dhanu, who had produced Sivaji's last film, 'Mannavar Chinnavar', a couple of years ago, was in the hospital when he passed away. Ganesan had evidently invited him for lunch only 20 days back.
Dhanu, in a tribute, said that if all Tamil artistes were placed on one side of a scale and Sivaji, who was also referred to as 'Nadigar Thilagam' (star among actors) on the other, he would still outweigh them.
Ganesan was conferred the title of 'Chevalier des Arts et Lettres' (Knight of Arts and Letters) by the Government of France in1994. He was also conferred the Dadasaheb Phalke Award some years ago for his lifetime contribution to Indian cinema.
Such was his imposing screen presence, that all others looked positively Lilliputian when cast opposite him. The sheer range of roles he handled during his long career spanning nearly four decades is breath-taking and one can only reiterate in awe, feeling unequal to the task of summing up the scale and range of his genius.
Whether he was playing a king, a commoner, a lunatic, an intimidating villain, a bubbling cop, a cavorting young man, an octogenarian Shiva devotee or the fire-dash spitting Lord Shiva himself…..you name it, he did it all in such a masterly fashion that there was little scope for any improvement by the "more method, more thinking" actors in India.
An avid theatre-goer, he ran away from home to act in a myriad roles before he landed the hero's part in Parashakti in 1952. He swept the audience off their feet with his histrionic skills, his expressions, his dialogue-delivery, his body language, everything was like a whiff of fresh air. After that he never looked back, whether as the wronged Prince, Manohara, or as a tribal rebel Veerappandia.
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