The Great Sivaji
My favorite Tamil actor is Sivaji Ganesan, the
versatile actor who’s
acted in so many roles convincingly. Many of the characters seemed so
real that even today I imagine historical characters like Veera Pandya
KattaBomman and Kappalottiya Tamizan (Va.Vu. Chidambaram Pillai) to have
looked like him. Sivaji was added to his name after his virtuoso performance
as the Maratha king in a play.
Like MGR, he ran away from home to join
a drama company as a young boy much as children in America talk about joining
the circus. The drama company traveled from town to town always in great
demand, as plays were one of the principal forms of entertainment in those
His early movies in the 50s and 60s were amazing. He followed
his first movie,'Parashakthi', a big hit, with films like Padithal Mattum
Podhuma, Paar Magale Paar, Pacchai Vilakku, Paava Mannippu, Kai Koduttha
Deivam and Veera Pandya KattaBomman.
When he acted, he really became that person. We see the
loving brother in Paasa Malar, the status-loving but dear father in Paar
Magale Paar and the dutiful son in Padithal Mattum Podhuma. We saw patriots
Va.Vu.Chidambaram Pillai himself in Kappal Ottiya Tamizan and Katta
Bomman come to life. His comic roles were just as convincing in movies like
Arivaali with Bhanumathi, an interpretation of Shakespere's Taming of the Shrew.
In his hundredth movie, Navarathiri, he played nine different
people, each representing a different human characteristic like fear, anger
He received awards from around
the world including India’s
Padma Bhushan and L’Chevalier d’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
from the French government.