A memorial for legendary Tamil film actor ‘Sivaji’ Ganesan will be formally opened by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami on Oct 1 on the occasion of his 90th birthday, the Government has announced.
The memorial, built at a cost of Rs 2.8 crore in a 2,100 sq ft land in Adayar here by the State Government, will house not only 100 photos, it will be adorned by a bronze statue which was recently shifted there from the Marina following complaints that it was hindering traffic.
Among the photos is one showing Sivaji with Marlon Brando, taken during his visit to the US in the 1960s. Top stars, including Rajini and Kamal have been invited to the inaugural.
Sivaji ,who died 13 years ago, made his debut in the Tamil film Parasakthii in the 1950s. It was Dravidian patriarch “Periyar” E V Ramasamy who named V C Ganesan “Sivaji” after his performance in a play on the Maratha warrior.
Sivaji dominated the film scene along with matinee idol MGR for nearly two decades till the advent of Kamal and Rajini. He had done a variety of roles, including nine in Navarathri. When it was remade in Hind, Sanjeev Kumar who did that role, admitted he found it difficult match Sivaji’s performance.To out do that, Kamal came out with Dasavatharam in which he donned ten roles.
Though Sivaji’s over-the-top performance may not appeal to the present generation, he had shown he was also capable of subdued acting when he played the role of freedom-fighter who floated the first swadeshi ship V O Chidambararanar in Kappalottiya Tamizhan.
An out and out a director’s man, Sivaji adapted to change quickly in the 1980s and 90s and reinvented himself like Amitabh Bhachchan. Unfortunately, in his heydays top directors like Sridhar and K Balachandar avoided him for fear he would not cooperate with them.
Sivaji proved them wrong in Mudhal Mariayadhai directed by Bharathi Raja who brought to the fore his flair for acting naturally. It is a different matter, Sivaji later said “I did not act, but only gave whatever the director wanted from me”. He acted only in a few films in other languages, mainly in Malayalam. They include Thacholi Ambu and Oru Yathramozhi. He was an inspiration for generation of actors including Kamal and Rajini. Kamal learnt from Sivaji’s mistakes while Rajini adopted his flamboyance.
The question is whether two know Sivaji was a disaster as a politician, first as a long-time Congressman and later as leader of a regional outfit.