They are diehard fans of Sivaji Ganesan. They wait for re-releases of the great actor’s films and make a beeline for the cinemas, just as they used to decades ago. Several years and new entrants notwithstanding, their enthusiasm for their favourite performer’s films remains unparalleled. They now eagerly await Ganesan’s ‘Gowravam’ that broke box office records when it was first released. The film comes out at Shanthi Cinemas on Friday after successful re-runs of ‘Thiruvarutchelvar’ and ‘Mannavan Vandhaanadi,’ in the recent weeks.

B.V. Murali, whose Archana Films is bringing out this mega hit, was actively involved in Ganesan’s fan club activities much before films became his business.

“‘Gowravam’ was first released in 1973 on the day of Deepavali and was a money spinner. Its last re-release was seven years ago. We are planning the opening in a big way because it coincides with the actor’s 10th death anniversary on July 21. Our promos mention it. The film will run for a week and could be extended,” he says.

Big way? “Yes, fan clubs have put up a 50-feet cut-out of the actor at the entrance to the theatre. Publicity is a la a new film. ‘Gowravam’ was a milestone in Ganesan’s career,” notes Murali.

(If Shanthi Cinemas is maintained better it could attract filmgoers even more.)

Is he confident about the response? “Sure, Nadigar Thilakam’s films always sell. Like any other new film we have shows opening to full houses during weekends, and at least 200 tickets sold on other days,” he avers, and adds, “Y.Gee. Mahendra has already booked 30 tickets for the Sunday show.” Despite the innumerable choices that TV channels offer? “Yeah, there are thousands out there yearning for theatre releases of his films -- nothing like watching the matinee idol on the big screen!”

So what’s up Murali’s sleeve after ‘Gowravam’? “‘Engal Thanga Raaja,’” he smiles.

Sivaji Ganesan’s fan base, which ensures that his films continue to hold viewers in thrall, is still intact! Time has proved that he can never become a has-been nor can his films ever be described as also-rans.

(‘Gowravam’ is releasing on Friday (July 15) at Shanthi Theatre, Chennai.)