Born in: Viluppuram, Tamil Nadu
Died on: July 21, 2001
Cinematic excellence, artistic prowess and the natural exhibit of expression and stance on stage - Ganesan, more popularly Shivaji Ganesan, has left behind a legacy for many to cherish and follow. The legendary actor was exceptional, when it came to performance and has been the guiding star and influence for many actors in the present generation. Receiving accolades like no one, he was the first South Indian film actor to be admired and appreciated overseas. He won the 'Best Actor Award' in the Afro-Asian Film Festival, held in Cairo, Egypt.
Born to a middle class family in Villupuram, Chinnaiahpillai Ganesan was a just another kid of India. Ganesan's father - Chinnaiahpillai, worked in the South Indian Railway, while his mother - Rajamani Ammal,was a homemaker. He had one sister and two brothers - one elder and the other younger. The day Ganesan was born, his family got good as well as bad news. While everyone celebrated the arrival of a new family member, they also mourned his father's arrest over anti-British activities. Chinnaiahpillai also underwent a term of imprisonment later on. A dropout from school, Sivaji Ganesan was a born artist. He explored the stage right from the tender years of childhood, taking part in theatre and plays. Eventually, he joined a drama troupe and spent his growing years on-stage.
Ganesan’s first performance on the '70mm screen' was in a Tamil film - ‘Parasakthi’, in 1952. His debut movie was written and directed by the present Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M Karunanidhi. In his career, which expanded to more than four decades, the gifted actor showed his brilliance through various roles. Not only did he excel in commercial cinema, but also brought experimental cinema in a new limelight. A versatile actor, he played v multiple roles, commercial roles as well as roles of Hindu deities. The name ‘Emperor Shivaji’ was one that he adopted from the role he had once enacted.
Apart from acting in Tamil movies, Shivaji Ganesan also proved his artistic ingenious in Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam, Bengali and Kannada movies. His film ‘Veerapaandiya Kattabomman’ brought him international fame. The film was highly acclaimed and appreciated in the Afro-Asian Film Festival held at Egypt. With this, Ganesan became the first South Indian actor to receive such an accolade. Shivaji Ganesan ruled over Kollywood (Tamil Film Industry) for multiple decades. While he played the protagonist in his early career, the end days saw him donning senior roles, like those of a father or cop.
The 1990s saw Shivaji Ganesan being paired up with several notable actors of the present generation. Ganesan shared screen space with M.G. Ramachandran, Gemini Ganesan, Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth, Prabhu Ganesan, Sathyaraj, Vijayakanth, Y. G. Mahendran, Sivakumar, K. Bhagyaraj, Karthik Muthuraman, Arjun Sarja, Joseph Vijay and Abbas. ‘Padayappa’, a blockbuster released in the 1999, was his last film before his death.
Politics & Ganesan
Ganesan was a strong believer in the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). It was only in 1955, after his visit to the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, that he was expelled from the party, as visiting the temple was not permitted by the rationalistic DMK. In 1961, he became a supporter of the Indian National Congress and particularly the then-leader K. Kamaraj. The death of Kamaraj brought a change in his position and he became a supporter of Indira Gandhi.
Ganesan became a Member of Parliament (MP) in the Rajya Sabha in 1982. It was in 1987 that he formed his own political party - Thamizhaga Munnetra Munnani (TMM). His party was known to be pro-LTTE, at the time when Rajiv Gandhi had withdrawn the Indian Peacekeeping Force from Sri Lanka. Ganesan merged his party with the Tamil Nadu faction of the Janata Dal in 1989.
Ganesan experienced severe respiratory problem on July 21, 2001 and was admitted to the Apollo Hospital in Chennai. Despite the efforts of the doctors, he died the same day, leaving behind thousands of mourners. For about 10 years, he had been suffering from a prolonged heart ailment as well. The funeral of the legendary actor was attended by thousands of people, comprising of fans, politicians and personalities from the South Indian film fraternity.
Ganesan tied the nuptial knot with Kamala, on the first of May, in the year 1952. The couple had four children - two daughters - Shanthi Ganesan and Rajvi Ganesan and two sons - Ramkumar Ganesan and Prabhu Ganesan. While Prabhu Ganesan shared the screen space with his father and went on to become a popular actor and producer. Ramkumar Ganesan is also one of the successful film producers in the South Indian Film Industry.
Shivaji Ganesan was awarded with Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan, which rank amongst the highest honors awarded to an Indian national. In 1995, the celebrated actor added another feather to his achievements. He was honored with the 'Chevalier' title, by the National Order of the Legion of Honour in France. Amongst the likes of such highly credible honors, the actor also has to his credit a statue, which was erected in Chennai. Unveiled in 2006, by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, the statue was primarily built to honor the legendary actor. His birthday is observed as ‘Actors' Day’ in Kollywood. The day was so named by the former South Indian Film Artistes' Association President - Vijayakanth.
- 1959: Afro-Asian Film Festival Best Actor Award
- 1966: Padma Shri
- 1984: Padma Bhushan
- 1993: National Film Award - Special Jury Award for Thevar Magan,
- 1995: Chevalier (Knight of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France)
- 1996: Dadasaheb Phalke Award
- 1997: Kalaimamani
- 1998: NTR National Award
1953: Pempudu Koduku, Poongodhai, Pardesi, Anbu, Thirumbi Paar
1954: Manohara, Edhirpaarthadhu, Andha Naal, Kalyanam Panniyum Brammachari, Koondukkili
1955: Mudhal Thedhi, Mangayar Thilagam, Kalvanin Kadhali
1956: Thenali Raman, Rangoon Radha, Pennin Perumai, Amaratheebam
1957: Vanangaamudi, Tala Vanchani Veerudu, Thangamalai Ragasiyam, Makkalai Petra Magarasi, Ambigaabathi (ALS), Pudhaiyal, Baagyavathi
1958: Sabaash Meena, Saarangathaara, Uthamaputhiran, Kaathavaraayan, Thanga Padumai
1959: Veerapandiya Kattabomman(The Great...), Veerapandya Kattabrahmanna
1960: Pillalu Techina Challani Rajyam, Padikkadha Medhai, Paavai Vilakku, Irumbu Thirai, Dheiva Piravi
1961: Paavamannippu, Paasamalar, Papa Pariharam, Paalum Pazhamum, Kappal Ottiya Thamizhan (The Great), Punar Jenmam
1962: Pavithra Prema, Paarthaal Pasi Theerum, Bale Pandiya, Aalayamani (No comparison...), Nichaya Thaamboolam, Padithaal Mattum Podhuma, Vadivukku Valaikaappu, Bandhapaasam
1963: Ratha Thilagam, Paar Magale Paar, Iruvar Ullam, Arivaali, Kulamagal Raadhai, Kungumam, Annai Illam
1964: Karnan, Karna, Ramadasu, Navarathiri, Kai Kodutha Dheivam, Pachai Vilakku, Pudhiya Paravai
1965: Thiruvilaiyadal, Santhi, Pazhani, Anbu Karangal
1966: Motor Sundaram Pillai, Mahakavi Kalidas, Selvam
1967: Thiruvarutchelvar, Thangai, Kandhan Karunai, Iru Malargal, Ooty Varai Uravu
1968: Uyarndha Manidhan, Thillana Moganambal, Enga Oor Raja, Thirumaal Perumai, Galaatta Kalyanam, En Thambi
1969: Kaaval Dheivam, Dheiva Magan, Sivandha Man, Thanga Surangam, Gurudhatchanai
1970: Vilaiyaattu Pillai, Vietnam Veedu, Enga Mama, Paadhugaappu
1971: Savaale Samaali, Moondru Dheivangal, Sumadhi En Sundhari, Babu, Kulama Gunama, Thangaikkaga, Iru Thuruvam
1972: Vasandha Maaligai, Gnana Oli, Bangaru Babu, Needhi, Pattikkada Pattanama
1973: Gowravam, Bhakta Tukaram, Rajapart Rangadurai, Rajaraja Cholan, Bharatha Vilas
1974: Thanga Padhakkam, Anbai Thedi, En Magan, Theerkka Sumangali
1975: Anbe Aaruyire, Avan Thaan Manidhan
1976: Chanakya Chandragupta, Uthaman, Unakkaga Naan, Sathiyam, Rojavin Raja, Grahapravesam
1977: Annan Oru Koyil, Avan Oru Sarithiram, Theebam, Ilaya Thalaimurai, Naam Pirandha Man
1978: Vaazhkai Alaigal, Ennai Pol Oruvan, General Chakravarthi, Justice Gopinath, Pilot Premnath, Punniya Boomi, Thyagam, Andhamaan Kadhali
1979: Vetrikku Oruvan, Thirisoolam, Pattaakathi Bairavan, Nalladhoru Kudumbam, Naan Vaazhavaippen, Kavari Maan, Imayam
1980: Rishi Moolam, Ratha Paasam, Visvaroobam, Emanukku Eman, Dharma Raja
1981: Mogana Punnagai, Maadi Veettu Ezhai, Lorry Driver Rajakannu, Keezhvaanam Sivakkum, Kalthoon, Amarakaaviyam, Sathya Sundharam
1982: Vasandhathil Oru Naal, Vaa Kanna Vaa, Thyagi, Thunai, Theerpu, Sangili, Paritchaikku Neramaachu, Oorum Uravum, Oorukku Oru Pillai, Nenjangal, Hitler Umanath, Garuda Saukiyama
1983: Sumangali, Sandhippu, Unmaigal, Miruthanga Chakravarthi, Neethibathi, Vellai Roja, Kashmir Kadhali, Uruvangal Maaralam
1984: Iru Medhaigal, Ezhudhaadha Sattangal, Vaazhkai, Vamsa Vilakku, Sarithira Nayagan, Siranjeevi, Tharaasu, Thiruppam, Simma Soppanam, Dhaavani Kanavugal
1985: Bandham, Needhiyin Nizhal, Padikkadha Pannaiyar, Raja Rishi, Muthal Mariyathai, Naam Iruvar, Nermai, Padikkadhavan
1986: Thaaiku Oru Thaalaattu panni, Saadhanai, Mannukkul Vairam, Lakshmi Vandhachu, Anandha Kanneer, Viduthalai, Marumagal
1987: Raja Mariyadhai, Muthukkal Moondru, Kudumbam Oru Koyil, Krishnan Vandhaan, Thaambathiyam, Veerapandiyan, Jallikkattu, Anbulla Appa
1988: En Thamizh En Makkal, Pudhiya Vaanam
1990: Kaavalukku Gettikkaaran
1991: Gnana Paravai, Thevar Magan, Naangal, Mudhal Kural, Sinna Marumagal
1997: Once More, Gopura Theebam, Oru Yathra Mozhi
1998: En Aasai Rasave
1999: Mannavaru Sinnavaru, Poo Parikka Varugirom, Padayappa