Year after year it’s fascinating to watch Y.Gee. Mahendra zero in on a new aspect of Sivaji Ganesan in his tribute show to the legend, and present it with unswerving gusto. The theme this time -- romantic interludes of Ganesan – was showcased in a session of light music and clippings from the films of Sivaji Ganesan. Another worthy homage to the inimitable actor, who continues to hold sway nearly a decade after he went away! Neither the songs nor the scenes get repeated in YGM’s annual feature. Only goes to show the oeuvre that the prodigious talent has left behind and Mahendra’s thorough study of it!

And the man has guts! Without mincing words he addressed some of those in the back rows who invariably get unruly during the event. This time Mahendra categorically told them, “We have melodious numbers lined up and great singers such as SPB to present them. It is the third day of the New Year -- time for the revelry to have settled down. Those who still want to create a ruckus may leave the hall.” And believe it or not the crowd did quieten down!

As always time was allotted to honour a few yesteryear greats of cinema with Sivaji Awards of Excellence. This year’s awardees were director S.P.Muthuraman, actor Rajasulochana and playback singer L.R. Easwari. Sivaji Ganesan’s son Ramkumar did the honours.

Named ‘Avan Dhaan Nadigan,’ the show presented at Kamarajar Arangam as part of N. Gopaldas Kalai Vizha 2010, was organised by Abbas and Spotlight Productions. The avid Ganesan fan that Mahendra is, his words “The title, as all of you know, is a take-off on Sivaji Ganesan’s film, ‘Avan Dhaan Manidhan,’ and according to me he is the ultimate actor,” reiterated it further.

Peppered with anecdotes from Ganesan’s life and career, extolment of the actor’s prowess, humorous takes and light-hearted barbs, Mahendra made his emceeing enjoyable with ARS’s sedate stage presence proving a perfect foil.

The singers made an impression from the word ‘go.’ Openers Bhagyasri and Vishali, the two young Marathi singers from Mumbai who don’t know a word of Tamil floored you with their melodious voices and perfect diction for the song, ‘Thirupparankundrathil Nee Sirithaal…’ Kalpana goes slightly nasal at times but she was quite in form that evening. Though I felt she went a little overboard in her excitement, Ramkumar, who was sitting beside me, was quite taken in by Madhuvanti’s uninhibited presentation of Sivaji’s stylish treat with Kovai Murali and others -- ‘Yaaradi Nee Mohini,’ (‘Uththama Puthiran’) -- and showed the thumbs up sign to her.

The king of them all, SPB, drenched the audience in Ganesan’s melodies beginning with his first song with the versatile actor, ‘Pottu Vaiththa Mugamo’ ‘(‘Sumathi En Sudari’). The best thing about the singing ace is his magnanimity in praising talent wherever he sees it – he brought joy on the faces of Ananthu, C.A.Raja and Saindhavi with his largesse that evening.

Ramkumar, stood up and put his hands together when SPB first entered the stage. “What a voice! Three decades ago he sang for our production and till our latest film, ‘Asal,’ he continues to croon for us,” he told me. You couldn’t but agree -- S.P. Balasubramanyam’s voice seems to be getting more mesmeric by the day! And when he presented numbers he had sung for Sivaji Ganesan, it was a double delight!