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Discernment. Online












Sivaji grew as an actor in a politically charged climate, with the DMK producing films and Karunanidhi scripting them 





M G Ramachandran also became a mass draw because of  the ideologically charged films he got to act in.



End of an era 

Sivaji Ganesan's death marks the end of a generation nurtured by the Dravidian politics of Tamil Nadu. Along with MGR, he ruled the Tamil film industry for several decades

Sivaji Ganesan: a high voltage career endsSivaji Ganesan, one of Indian cinema's biggest icons, died on Saturday, 22 July. He was 74. He was admitted to hospital on July 12 with respiratory problems. He also had some heart complications.

Born in Sirkali, which incidentally also produced the high-pitched singer Sirkali Govindarajan, Sivaji starred in many music-centred films, and films with songs that remain favourites decades after they were recorded.

His father, Viluppuram Chinnaiahpillai, gave him the name of Ganesan, but Annadurai, the charismatic leader of the Dravidian movement, called him Sivaji Ganesan, impressed with his portrayal of the Maratha warrior. The play was also written by Annadurai, and later made into a film.

Ganesan, who became Sivaji to his fans, debuted in Parasakthi (1952), which put forward the atheistic ideology of the DMK. The actor was to become a believer later in his life.

When Parasakthi became a superhit, he became a regular with DMK Films, which produced films for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. Interestingly, Parasakthi was scripted by Karunanidhi, a DMK leader who has played a long innings in Tamil Nadu politics. Dravidian politics was often at loggerheads with Indian nationalism, which it considered a route to Hindi hegemony.

Sivaji idolised Annadurai, and named his house 'Annai Illam' (Anna House). M G Ramachandran, who was a more spectacular success in politics than Sivaji, also became a mass draw because of his association with the DMK, and the kind of ideologically charged films he got to act in. MGR and Sivaji were the biggest names of Tamil cinema for nearly three decades. Sivaji  attempted a small role in politics later in his life, and was associated with the Congress.

He was in the news when J Jayalalitha, the then chief minister, splurged on what the media described as "the wedding of the century". Her foster son Sudhagaran married Sivaji's granddaughter in 1995. Not that the notoriety of that event rubbed off on him; many said he was a mute spectator with no say of his own. Sivaji had starred with Jayalalitha in Engamma, released in the late '60s.

Sivaji acted recently in Kamala Hasan's production Thevar Magan. In flashback, his main films are Poongothai (1953), Manohara (1954), Kalvanin Kadhali (1955), Tenali Raman and Rangoon Radha (1956), Makkali Petra Maharasi (1957), Maragatham (1959), Motor Sunderam Pillai (1970), Vietnam Veedu (1974) and Pasumponn (1995). He played a nadaswaram player in Tillana Mohanambal , which became a very huge hit thanks to its excellent music.

Lata Mangeshkar considered Sivaji her brother, and tied a rakhi on his wrist every year. She first met him when he acted in a Tamil play in Bombay sometime in the '50s. The families of the singer and the actor became close friends. His house provided the hospitality for Lata's family whenever any one was in Madras. Lata sang for his Hindi production Raakhi, and more recently recorded a song compsed by Ilaiyaraja for his son Ramkumar's Tamil film, Anand.

Sivaji is survived by his wife Kamalammal, two sons (Ramkumar and actor Prabhu) and two daughters.

TMM Desk

Posted on 23 July 2001

(Thank you Sukanya V and S Suresh for pointing out the spelling and factual errors in an earlier cut of this obit. We have set them right -- Ed)

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