Sivaji Ganesan was among the most successful actors in the Tamil Film industry.
In his filmy career spanning nearly five decades, Sivaji Ganesan was seen in almost 300 films in various languages including Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada
Born as V. Chinnaiya Manrayar Ganesamoorthy on October 1, 1928, Sivaji Ganesan was among the most successful actors in the Tamil Film industry during the latter half of the 20th century. Ganesan worked in many on-stage plays before making a debut in Tamil films with the 1952 release Parasakthi. He began working on stage at the age of 10 when after he joined a drama troupe in Sangiliyandapuram.
In his filmy career spanning nearly five decades, Ganesan was seen in almost 300 films in various languages including Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada. Ganesan was last seen in a supporting role in the 1999 release Pooparika Varugirom before he passed away on July 21, 2001.
On his 93 birth anniversary today, we take a look back at his journey and list some of the lesser-known facts about the ‘Marlon Brando of Indian Cinema’:
- Ganesan earned the name ‘Shivaji’ after his portrayal of Chhatrapati Shivaji in the play Shivaji Kanda Hindu Rajyam. Social reformer EV Ramasamy gave him this name.
- Ganesan was a trained dancer in many classical dance forms like Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Manipuri.
- Ganesan was the first Indian artist to visit the United States as India’s cultural ambassador in 1962. He went there on the invitation of then US President John F Kennedy.
- Ganesan was known for his eidetic memory — the ability to recall images, sounds, or objects in memory. This helped him to memorise scripts in a glance.
- He was the first Indian actor to get a ‘Best Actor’ award at an international film festival. He won the best actor awards at the Afro-Asian Film Festival held in Cairo, Egypt in 1960 for his portrayal in the 1959 Tamil film Veerapandiya Kattabomman.
- Ganesan was active in politics from his early days. After being affiliated with many political outfits, Ganesan finally floated his own political party Thamizhaga Munnetra Munnani in the year 1988. His party contested 50 seats in the Tamil Nadu Assembly election, however, it could not get much success. In 1989, Ganesan became the president of the Tamil Nadu wing of former VP Singh’s Janta Dal. Unlike his successful career in films, Ganesan had a forgettable stint in politics.
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