17 November 1920
|Died||22 March 2005 84) (aged|
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
|Alma mater||Madras Christian College|
|Years active||1947 – 2004|
Ganapati Subramanian Sarma or Ramasamy Ganesan (17 November 1920 – 22 March 2005),better known by his stage name Gemini Ganesan, was an Indian actor who worked mainly in Tamil cinema. He was nicknamed "Kaadhal Mannan" (King of Romance) for the romantic roles he played in films. Ganesan was one of the "three biggest names of Tamil cinema", the other two being M. G. Ramachandran and Sivaji Ganesan. While Sivaji Ganesan excelled in dramatic films and M. G. Ramachandran was popular as an action hero, Gemini Ganesan was known for his romantic films. A recipient of the Padma Shri in 1971, he had also won several other awards including the "Kalaimamani", the "MGR Gold Medal" and the "Screen Lifetime Achievement Award". He is one of the few college graduates to enter the film industry at that time.
Gemini Ganesan made his debut with Miss Malini in 1947 but was noticed only after playing the villain in Thai Ullam in 1953.After playing the lead role in Manam Pola Mangalyam (1954), he finally acquired star status. However, unlike Sivaji Ganesan or Ramachandran, Gemini Ganesan was not a stage performer and was never involved in politics. In his long film career spanning over five decades, Ganesan acted in more than 200 films. His performances on the screen were enhanced by successful playback singers such as A. M. Rajah and P. B. Sreenivas. Despite his celebrated film career, Ganesan's personal life, particularly his marriages to multiple women over the years, has often been a subject of criticism. He won two Filmfare Awards.
Gemini Ganesan was born as Ramasamy Ganesan in 1920to Ramasamy Iyer and Gangammal. Ganesan's grandfather, Narayanaswami, was the principal of the Maharajah's College, Pudukkottai. Later in life, after losing his first wife, Narayanaswami married a Devadasi girl Chandramma who served as musician and dancer in a Temple. Notable among Narayanaswami's children with Chandramma were Muthulakshmi and Ramaswamy, father of Gemini Ganesan. Ramaswamy married Bhagirthi Amma (or Bagirathi Amma), a woman of his mother's Devadasi community(singer and dancer in Temple). Ganesan was the son of Ramaswamy and Bhagirathi Amma.
When Ganesan was in the sixth grade, his grandfather died and not long after that, his father too died. Meanwhile, Muthulakshmi (now known as Muthulakshmi Reddi) had studied well and become a doctor; she was affluent and educated and had thoroughly abandoned the style of life followed by her mother and maternal ancestors, so much so that she became the leader of a social reform movement aimed at eradicating the Devadasi system. She was instrumental in ensuring the passage through parliament of the Devadasi Abolition Act. After the death of his father, Ganesan, along with his mother Bagirathi, moved to his aunt Muthulakshmi's home in Madras (now known as Chennai). Muthulakshmi provided shelter to her mother Chandramma and also to Bagirathi and Ganesan, but she was very dismissive and insulting towards her destitute relatives, and she felt ashamed of them because of their background as courtesans. She heaped many insults on the two widowed women, and ensured that they did not show their faces to any guests who visited the house. Unhappy with the situation, Chandramma and Bagirathi returned to Pudukkottai. However, they left Ganesan with his aunt, so he would grow into an educated and respectable man.
Since Muthulakshmi was an ardent follower of Ramakrishna, she decided to enrol Ganesan into Ramakrishna Mission Home. While there, he was taught yoga and Sanskrit and was made to read the Upanishads, Vedas and Bhagavad Gita. However, he could not bear being separated from his mother, who was in Pudukkottai, so he returned to his native place and studied at a high school there. Later on, he joined Maharajah's College, located in the same place. However, he completed his graduation from Madras Christian College, Chennai.
Ganesan's dream was to become a doctor.In April 1940, he went to Trichinopoly (now Tiruchirappalli) to see T. R. Alamelu. Alamelu's father proposed his daughter in marriage and promised him a medical seat after graduation. Ganesan immediately agreed and married Alamelu in June 1940. Alamelu lost her father and elder sister within one month of her marriage. Ganesan's dreams of becoming a doctor were shattered. There was no choice left for him but to find a job immediately, as he was the only person to support his family. He got an interview from the Indian Air Force. Much against Alamelu's wishes, Ganesan went to Delhi. In Delhi, he met his uncle Narayanaswami who advised him to become a teacher. Finally, Ganesan worked as a lecturer in the Chemistry department of Madras Christian College. Later in 1947, he obtained work as a production executive in Gemini Studios, from where the title "Gemini" became prefixed to his name. He debuted in film from the casting department of the Studio itself.
From the casting department, Ganesan made his film debut in 1947 with the satire Miss Malini , in a minor role. The film, which was based on a story by R. K. Narayan, and cast him alongside his future wife Pushpavalli, was a box office failure as it was considered "ahead of its time", but was well-received by intellectuals. No print of that film is known to survive, making it a lost film. This was followed by Chakradhari, in which he played another minor role as the Hindu god Krishna. The film was a box office success, but his performance went unnoticed. It was not until 1953, when he played a negative role in Thai Ullam , did people take notice of him as an actor. The next year, he appeared in a supporting role in the Gemini Studios film Moondru Pillaigal , which was unsuccessful. He was then cast as a hero for the first time with Manam Pola Mangalyam . The film, which featured him in a dual role, paired him with his future wife Savitri, and became a "milestone in his life". From then on, he carved out a niche for himself in Tamil cinema with films that favoured romance over action.
In a career spanning nearly 50 years, Ganesan played a variety of roles, from Abhimanyu in Mayabazar (1957), to resistance fighter Madasamy in Kappalottiya Thamizhan (1961), and in Pennin Perumai (1960), he played a "non-assertive imbecile morphing into a well-moulded human being". Ganesan also starred in Kalathur Kannamma (1959), which was also the debut for Kamal Haasan, who would later become one of the leading actors in Tamil cinema. The film won the Certificate of Merit for the Third Best Feature Film in 1961.Ganesan also starred in Veerapandiya Kattabomman (1959), alongside Sivaji Ganesan. The film was selected for the Afro-Asian Film Festival in 1960. It was also nominated for the National Film Award in 1960, along with Gemini Ganesan's Kalyana Parisu , but both lost to Bhaaga Pirivinai . The Ruritanian romance film Vanjikottai Valiban (1958) was a high budget film and became a large commercial success due to much hype. The historical fiction film Parthiban Kanavu (1960) won the President's Silver Medal for Best Feature Film, but failed commercially.
Ganesan's 1961 film Then Nilavu , was the first Tamil film to be shot extensively in Jammu and Kashmir, and became a major box-office success.He co-starred with rival actor M. G. Ramachandran in Mugarasi (1966), which was their only film together. Konjum Salangai (1962), which featured Ganesan alongside Savithri was released in various countries outside India, having subtitles in over 22 languages, and it was also the first Tamil film to be released in Poland, in a dubbed version. Ganesan produced Naan Avan Illai (1974), in which he played a womaniser. Directed by K. Balachander, this film won critical praise for Ganesan's performance, but according to Ganesan, the film did not succeed commercially. Some of his other known works include Missiamma , School Master , Kanavane Kankanda Deivam , Meenda Sorgam , Shanti Nilayam , Vaazhkai Padagu , Karpagam , Ramu , Thamarai Nenjam and Punnagai . Ganesan had paired with several leading actresses like Anjali Devi, Pushpavalli, Padmini, Vyjayanthimala, Savitri, Devika, Vijayakumari, Saroja Devi, Rajasree, Kanchana, Jayanthi, K. R. Vijaya, Bharathi and Jayalalithaa.
Gemini Ganesan acted in a few Hindi films, most of which were remakes of his Tamil films. His first Hindi film was Missiamma's remake Miss Mary (1957), which became one of the biggest Indian hits of that year.He played the lead role in Devta , the Hindi version of his own Tamil film Kanavaney Kankanda Deivam. He also acted in the Ruritanian epic film Raj Tilak (1958), based on his own Vanjikottai Valiban. It was a box office failure, having collapsed within a week of its release. He later appeared in a guest role in Nazrana (1961), the Hindi remake of his own Kalyana Parisu. Though the film was an average grosser, it was the 12th highest-grossing film of the year.
Later in his career, Ganesan switched to character roles, most notably the Telugu film Rudraveena (1988), its Tamil remake Unnal Mudiyum Thambi (1988), and Avvai Shanmughi (1996), in which he played the role of an old man longing for an old maid. Near the end of his acting career, he chose to act mainly in television serials, most notably Krishnadasi. [ citation needed ] Thodarum (1998), and his last major role came the same year with Naam Iruvar Namakku Iruvar , followed by special appearances in Gemini (2002) and Adi Thadi (2004).Ganesan also appeared in Mettukudi (1996), Kaalamellam Kadhal Vaazhga (1997),
Unlike Sivaji Ganesan and M. G. Ramachandran, Gemini Ganesan was not originally a theatre actor, thus making his acting "refreshingly credible".Though he interacted cordially with fans, he avoided promoting fan clubs. Ganesan abstained from politics, to the point of refusing a Rajya Sabha MP offer by Rajiv Gandhi. The only time he even barely approached politics was in 1963, when he organised a function for Subramania Bharati at Ettayapuram. Apart from acting, Ganesan was also a businessman and invested heavily in real estate and property development. He was skilled in various sports such as tennis, golf, badminton, and captained his college's cricket team. Ganesan also directed the film Idhaya Malar (1976).
Gemini Ganesan has widely been praised for his versatility in acting, having performed a "wide range of roles".He was "at his best" with Savitri, with whom he had acted in several successful films. In February 2006, Dayanidhi Maran had released a commemorative postage stamp of the actor, whom he described as a "multi-dimensional personality, who evinced keen interest in Carnatic music, reading, yoga and poetry." He is also credited for having introduced leading Tamil actor Kamal Haasan to Kalathur Kannamma , where the latter was a child artist. Ganesan also took part in a World Tamil Conference in Kuala Lumpur, notably because he "loved Tamil language". According to politician M. Karunanidhi, the actor had developed a "reformer's mind" because he was raised by his aunt Muthulakshmi Reddy, who fought for the abolition of the devadasi system. Director K. Balachander called Ganesan a "director's delight" and stated that "The advantage of having him as a hero was that he was convinced about the capabilities of a director, he would leave it to the director and would not interfere". Lyricist Vairamuthu said: "'Gemini' Ganesan was not envious of anyone and promoted many actors by recommending them to producers and directors".
Despite being one of the most successful actors of Tamil cinema during his time, Gemini Ganesan was criticised for being "fossilised in one type of portrayal",as most of his films were typically "boy meets girl" romantic films. His hostile relationship with daughter Rekha was also criticised. He did not acknowledge Rekha's paternity during her childhood. It was in the early 1970s, when Rekha was looking for a career in Bollywood, that she revealed her origins. Later, at the peak of her career, Rekha told an interviewer that her father's neglect still rankled and that she had ignored his efforts at reconciliation. She did not even attend her father's funeral in 2005, and when asked about their relationship in a television interview, she did not answer.
Gemini Ganesan, at 19, married Alamelu, with whom he lived and whom he fondly called "Boubji". He later married Savitri while still married to his first wife. He had other affairs as well. Alamelu and Ganesan have four daughters; three of them – Revathi, Kamala and Jayalakshmi – are medical doctors, the fourth – Narayani – is a journalist with The Times of India. Ganesan has two daughters with Pushpavalli – Bollywood actress Rekha, and Radha. The latter acted in a few Tamil films, but then opted for marriage and migration to the United States. Savitri and Ganesan have two children: a daughter, Vijaya Chamundeswari, and Ganesan's only son, Satheesh Kumar. The actor noted in his autobiography Vaazhkai Padagu: "Somehow, I seemed to attract women who were in distress." He also felt annoyed by the title "Kaadhal Mannan" as it "was used to brush him in black in his personal life". He was survived by seven daughters and a son.[ citation needed ] Chamundeswari has a son Abhinay Vaddi, who acted in Ramanujan (2014), and is therefore Ganesan's grandson. His fourth wife was Juliana Andrew, whom he married in July 1998.
A documentary film on the legend in the name of Kadhal Mannan was produced by Dr. Kamala Selvaraj and directed by Ashok Kumar, DFT (Programme Head-Vendhar TV) in 2011. It was screened to many film stalwarts and fans of the legend and received rave reviews from critics for bringing out a candid representation of the actor's life in detail. Following the response, a DVD version of the film was released in the same year. In the mid-2010s, three films were made in reference to the actor. Odam Ilavarasu's romantic comedy Gemini Ganeshanum Suruli Raajanum (2017) began in 2015 and featured the lead character as someone who falls in love with several women at the same time. Muthukumar's Kaadhal Mannan (2018) was initially titled as Gemini Ganesan, before the makers decided to change the title.Furthermore, an official biopic of actress Savitri was made by director Nag Ashwin in Telugu as Mahanati . Dulquer Salmaan was cast as Ganesan and revealed that his portrayal of Gemini Ganesan would go beyond just the physical resemblance and that the character's emotional side would also be depicted.
After a prolonged illness due to kidney failure and multiple organ failure, Gemini Ganesan died surrounded by Bobji and their daughters at his residence on 22 March 2005, 13:30 IST. He was cremated with full state honours. Prominent personalities including Tamil Nadu's chief ministers M. Karunanidhi and Jayalalitha paid their last respects to the veteran actor.Ganesan's funeral was not attended by his estranged daughter Rekha, who was then in Himachal Pradesh shooting a film.
|1956||Kaalam Maari Pochu||Tamil|
|1957||Mayabazar||Appeared in Tamil version only|
|1970||Kaaviya Thalaivi||Tamil||Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor|
|1974||Naan Avan Illai||Tamil||Also producer|
Filmfare Award for Best Tamil Actor
|1978||Shri Kanchi Kamakshi||Tamil|
|1988||Unnal Mudiyum Thambi||Tamil|
V. Chinnaiya Manrayar Ganesamoorthy, better known by his stage name Sivaji Ganesan, was an Indian actor and producer. He was active in Tamil cinema during the latter half of the 20th century. He was known for his versatility and the variety of roles he depicted on screen, which gave him also the Tamil nickname Nadigar Thilagam. In a career that spanned close to five decades, he had acted 288 films in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi.
Savitri Ganesan was an Indian actress, playback singer, dancer, director and producer known for her works primarily in Telugu and Tamil cinema. She had also worked in Kannada, Hindi and Malayalam films. Reputed as the first female superstar of South Indian film industry, she starred in more than 250 films over three decades. She was the one of the highest-paid and most popular Indian actresses of the 1950s and 60s. She is often referred as "Mahanati" and "Nadigaiyar Thilagam".
Muthulakshmi Reddy, spelled Reddi in some British Indian sources, was an Indian medical practitioner, social reformer and Padma Bhushan award recipient.
Manjeri Narayanan Nambiar was an Indian actor who worked predominantly in Tamil cinema, known mostly for his villain roles in an eight decade long career. He has also appeared in few Malayalam films.
Thiruvilaiyadal is a 1965 Indian Tamil-language Hindu devotional film written, directed and co-produced by A. P. Nagarajan. The film features Sivaji Ganesan, Savitri, and K. B. Sundarambal in the lead roles, with T. S. Balaiah, R. Muthuraman, Nagesh, T. R. Mahalingam, K. Sarangapani, Devika, Manorama, and Nagarajan in supporting roles. K. V. Mahadevan composed the film's soundtrack and score, and Kannadasan and Sankaradas Swamigal wrote the song lyrics.
Gauravam (transl. Prestige) is a 1973 Indian Tamil-language legal drama film written and directed by Vietnam Veedu Sundaram. The film stars Sivaji Ganesan in a dual role as a barrister and his nephew fighting the same case. It is an adaptation of Sundaram's play Kannan Vandhaan. The film was released on 25 October 1973 and became a commercial success, with Ganesan winning the Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil.
Veerapandiya Kattabomman is a 1959 Indian Tamil-language biographical war film produced and directed by B. R. Panthulu. The film stars Sivaji Ganesan, Gemini Ganesan, Padmini, S. Varalakshmi, and Ragini, with V. K. Ramasamy and Javar Seetharaman in supporting roles. Its soundtrack and score were composed by G. Ramanathan.
Ramkumar Ganesan is an Indian film producer and actor. He is the head of Sivaji Productions, a film productions company that has produced several films, particularly featuring his father Sivaji Ganesan or his younger brother Prabhu Ganesan.
Pasamalar is a 1961 Indian Tamil-language drama film directed by A. Bhimsingh. The film stars Sivaji Ganesan, Gemini Ganesan and Savitri Ganesan, with K. A. Thangavelu M. N. Nambiar and M. N. Rajam in supporting roles. It tells the story of Rajasekhar and his bonding with his younger sister Radha. Radha falls in love with her brother's friend, and Rajasekhar eventually arranges for their marriage. Problems they face form the story. It was the film adaptation of the Malayalam writer Kottarakara's story of the same name.
Kanthan Karunai is a 1967 Indian Tamil-language Hindu mythological film, written and directed by A. P. Nagarajan. It features an ensemble cast including Sivaji Ganesan, Gemini Ganesan, Sivakumar, Savithri, K. R. Vijaya, Jayalalithaa, S. A. Ashokan, K. B. Sundarambal, Manorama and Nagesh.
Paava Mannippu is a 1961 Indian Tamil-language drama film directed and edited by A. Bhimsingh, who co-produced it under his banner Buddha Pictures, with AVM Productions. The film features an ensemble cast of Sivaji Ganesan, Gemini Ganesan, Savitri, Devika and M. R. Radha. M. V. Rajamma, V. Nagaiah, S. V. Subbaiah and T. S. Balaiah play supporting roles. It revolves around four children who are separated from their parents in childhood, then found and raised by foster parents of different religious backgrounds.
Krishnamoorthy Balaji (5 August 1934 – 2 May 2009) was an Indian film producer and actor. He was a prominent actor in the 1960s and 70s, playing lead, supporting and antagonist roles. He appeared in many Sivaji Ganesan movies.
Kandala Venkata Pushpavalli Tayaramma, better known as Pushpavalli, was an Indian actress who worked in Telugu films. Her film work includes title roles in Miss Malini (1947), and the Telugu film Satyabhama..
Irumbu Thirai is a 1960 Indian Tamil-language film produced and directed by S. S. Vasan. The film stars Sivaji Ganesan, Vyjayanthimala, K. A. Thangavelu and B. Saroja Devi, with S. V. Ranga Rao, Pandari Bai and Vasundhara Devi in supporting roles. It is a remake of the Hindi film Paigham (1959). The soundtrack was composed by S. V. Venkatraman and the lyrics were written by Kothamangalam Subbu, Papanasam Sivan and Pattukkottai Kalyanasundaram. The editing was done by M. Umanath while the camera was handled by P. Elappa and N. C. Bala Krishna. The story revolves around the two brothers Manikam and Kondamuthu and their mill owner.
Annaiyin Aanai is a 1958 Indian Tamil-language drama film starring Sivaji Ganesan and Savitri. The film, directed by Ch. Narayana Murthy, had musical score by S. M. Subbaiah Naidu and was released on 4 July 1958. The film won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil in 1959.
Kappalottiya Thamizhan is a 1961 Indian Tamil-language historical drama film produced and directed by B. R. Panthulu. The film stars Sivaji Ganesan, Gemini Ganesan and Savitri. It is based on the 1944 book of the same name by M. P. Sivagnanam, a biography of V. O. Chidambaram Pillai who founded the Swadeshi Stream Navigation Company to break the monopoly of the British over maritime trade out of India.
Thiruvarutchelvar is a 1967 Indian Tamil-language film, directed and produced by A. P. Nagarajan. The film stars Sivaji Ganesan, Gemini Ganesan, Savitri and Padmini. The film had musical score by K. V. Mahadevan. It was released on 28 July 1967, and ran for 100 days in theatres.
Iruvar Ullam is a 1963 Indian Tamil-language romance film, directed by L. V. Prasad and written by M. Karunanidhi. The film stars Sivaji Ganesan and B. Saroja Devi, while M. R. Radha, S. V. Ranga Rao, T. R. Ramachandran, T. P. Muthulakshmi, Sandhya and Padmini Priyadarshini play supporting roles. The music was composed by K. V. Mahadevan, while the lyrics were written by Kannadasan. The film is based on Lakshmi Thiripurasundari's novel Pen Manam.
Missiamma is a 1955 Indian Tamil-language romantic comedy film directed by L. V. Prasad. Produced by B. Nagi Reddy and Aluri Chakrapani's Vijaya Vauhini Studios, the film's script was adapted by Chakrapani from two Bengali-language novels: Rabindranath Maitra's Manmoyee Girls School and Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay'sDetective. Missiamma also focused on social issues such as unemployment, corruption, and freedom of worship. Missiamma tells the story of two unemployed people of different religions and mentalities: Balu and Mary. They pose as a married couple to obtain jobs in a high school founded by Gopal, the zamindar of Aandipettai. As Balu and Mary fall in love, Gopal's nephew Raju learns that Mary is Gopal's missing elder daughter Mahalakshmi; she is unaware of her true identity.
Vadivukku Valai Kappu is a 1962 Indian Tamil-language film written and directed by A. P. Nagarajan in his directorial debut. The film features Sivaji Ganesan, Savitri, V. K. Ramasamy, M. N. Rajam, S. V. Subbaiah, S. Varalakshmi and T. P. Muthulakshmi.
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