Can a vote of thanks be the most gripping and poignant part of a birth anniversary celebration? Probably, only actor Prabhu could have pulled it off! The occasion was the 84 birth anniversary of Sivaji Ganesan, on October 1, at The Music Academy, Chennai. The function was marked by three succinct speeches including Ramkumar’s welcome address, and that of the chief guest, Governor of Tamil Nadu Dr. K. Rosaiah’s. “I may have not been a close friend of the great actor, but like all of you I love him,” the Governor said. “I’ve not gone to the cinemas for 40 years now. But I went to watch ‘Veerapandiya Katta Bomman’ four times,” he went on amidst applause.
The short AV highlighting the versatility of the actor, his body language, the various gaits that he had acted out to suit the roles he played, and his expressive eyes was a treat. Ganesan could make even his eyebrows (the ‘Samrat Asokan’ sequence from ‘Annaiyin Aanai’ exemplified it) convey emotions, and it was all there for the audience to watch, drink in and go into raptures. An audio byte from a recorded interview with the actor had been thoughtfully added. Relevantly, the scenes revealed the Sivaji Ganesan-awardees connect well. Whoever put it together deserves special mention.
“It was Lata Mangeshkar who gave us the idea of instituting an award in appa’s name,” said son Ramkumar. The recipients of the Dr. Sivaji Ganesan Memorial Award were director K. Balachander, thavil vidwan Valayapatti A. R. Subramaniam, actors K.V. Srinivasan and Kanchana and media person Dr. T.S. Narayanaswami. Sivaji Ganesan had touched the lives of each of the recipients in some way.
So when K.V. Srinivasan turned emotional as Prabhu dwelt on the association between the nonagenarian actor and the thespian, which dated back to their theatre days, the sentiment and the sensibility were only too evident. Rotary Club of Madras Boys Town Society was presented a sum of Rs.54000 and Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan Educational Trust, Rs.50000. High on goodwill it was an evening to savour.
The best part of Prabhu’s crisp conclusion was the warmth with which he spoke of each of the awardees. After an intro in English he turned towards the Governor saying, “Sorry Sir, I have to switch over to Tamil.” The from-the-heart talk was so engrossing that you quite forgot that the speaker’s brief must have been only a formal signing-off note! And he had the fans thronging the balcony eating out of his hand when he said that they are always part of the Sivaji family.
“Without you we are nobody. You were all close to appa’s heart,” he told them. The actor sure knew the pulse of the audience. Also, he didn’t forget to record the contribution of every person instrumental for the success of the evening.
The well-planned, neatly executed event organised by Sivaji Prabhu Charities Trust wasn’t merely purposeful -- the cordiality the evening radiated left an indelible impression on the attendees as a whole.