Friday, October 17, 2014

Golden hero

The month of October is special for fans of 'Sivaji' Ganesan, the Nadigar Thilagam (the crown jewel of actors?) of Tamizh cinema. The first of the month is the birth anniversary of Villuppuram Chinnaiahpillai Ganesan, who went on to rule the Tamizh screen for over four decades between the 1950s and 1990s. He had many awards to his credit, including that of Best Actor at Afro-Asian Film Festival in Cairo in 1960 - the first Indian actor to win that award in an international festival.

That career started with the film "Parasakthi", made by AVM Studios in 1952. The script was by Mu Karunanidhi. Questioning the social mores of the day, the film's dialogues were quite fiery; quite a bit into its making, A.V. Meyyappan, the studio owner (and co-producer), as well as Krishnan-Panju, the co-directors, had doubts about the young man who was making his debut in the role of Gunasekaran, the lead character of the film. It was Mrs. Meyyappan and P.A. Perumal of National Pictures, the other co-producer, who backed Ganesan - and the rest, of course is history; not just for Ganesan, but also for the scriptwriter who would go on to become the state's Chief Minister. Parasakthi set the tone for a new kind of film-making.

It was on October 17, 1952 that this landmark of Tamizh cinema was released. 50 years later, this memorial to the movie was inaugurated inside the AVM studios. Apparently, it was initially placed a little way away from its current location, but was later shifted to the spot where Sivaji Ganesan delivered his first shot of the movie. At the bottom of this stand-up plaque, there is another shaped liked a book, listing the names of the people who had worked on the film: writers, lyricists, music director and technicians. The entire monument is topped off with the image of Sivaji delivering the first word of his first shot. Prophetic it was, for what he said was - "Success!"!

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