Gemini Ganesan’s centenary birth anniversary: The unparalleled ‘Kaadhal Mannan’


In a career spanning five decades with over 200 films to his credit, the veteran actor starred in critical and commercial successes, and managed to carve an unique niche for himself

On his centenary birth anniversary, actor Gemini Ganesan is still hailed as the unparalleled ‘Kaadhal Mannan’ or ‘King of Romance’. In a career spanning five decades with over 200 films to his credit, the veteran actor starred in critical and commercial successes and managed to carve an unique niche for himself.

A Chemistry honours graduate from Madras Christian College, who also worked as a demonstrator on the campus, Ganesan initially started off as a casting assistant in Gemini Studios. While he debuted in 1947 in the Gemini Studios production Miss Malini, it was the 1953 film Manampola Mangalyam where he played the main double role, which was a runaway success and catapulted him into the limelight.

Speaking to mediapersons back in 1957, the actor spoke about how unlike most Tamil artistes, he had little or no experience of the stage, and so he suffered from no inhibitions.

Gemini Ganesan had little or no experience of the stage, and so he suffered from no inhibitions

Gemini Ganesan had little or no experience of the stage, and so he suffered from no inhibitions
 
| Photo Credit:
Bijoy Ghosh

Kaaviya Thalaivi, Naan Avan Illai, Mayabazaar, Kappalotiya Thamizhan, Missiamma, Then Nilavu and Vanjikottai Valiban were among his many notable films. Mr Ganesan, Sivaji Ganesan and M.G. Ramachandran were a celebrated golden trio as their films dominated the Tamil film industry in the 1950s.

“The simplicity with which he led his life permeated into his acting and movies as well. In many of his movies, his on-screen persona as a simple, family man was someone with whom audiences at that time could relate to,” said Abinay Vaddi, Gemini Ganesan’s grandson.

The entrepreneur and actor said that he remembered his grandfather being very particular about replying to every fan mail that he got. “He struck a sort of balance on-screen which made his acting honest and sincere. My favourite films of his were Misiamma and Mayabazaar. While many remember Sivaji Ganesan and my grandmother Savithri from the film Pasamalar, I enjoyed my grandfather’s performance a lot in that film,” he added.

Savithri and Gemini Ganesan as husband and wife in ‘Pasa Malar’

Savithri and Gemini Ganesan as husband and wife in ‘Pasa Malar’
 
| Photo Credit: HINDU PHOTO ARCHIVES

On the occasion of his birth centenary, his daughter Dr Kamala Selvaraj released a series of videos on her YouTube Channel featuring several members of the Tamil film fraternity who spoke about their association with the veteran actor.

Actor Kamal Haasan, who made his debut in films as a child actor in Kalathur Kannamma which starred Gemini Ganesan and Savithri in the lead roles, reminisced about ‘Gemini Mama’ and said that he was the first ‘cinema hero’ he had met on set.

Kamal Haasan with Gemini Ganesan

Kamal Haasan with Gemini Ganesan
 

“Through my life, I have organically learnt many things from him. He is someone who brought happiness to all our lives and that is there is no other way I can remember him,” the actor said, in a video. His contemporary, veteran actor Vyjayanthimala, who has starred opposite him in several films recalled him as a jovial, cheerful person on set who was very easy to get along with.

More recently, actor Dulquer Salmaan had essayed the role of Gemini Ganeshan in the Telugu-Tamil biopic of actor Savithri. In a post on his social media page, the actor said that he considered it an honour to have been able to play the role.

“Apart from leaving a legacy that has inspired a generation of movie lovers, he had a larger-than-life personality that today is the stuff of legends,” he said.



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