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Kollywood raises a toast to ‘Aachi’ on completing 50 years in films

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moment to cherish: Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi after presenting a memento to actor Manorama for rendering 50 years of service to the Tamil cinema, in Chennai on Monday. Actors Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth are in the picture.
moment to cherish: Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi after presenting a memento to actor Manorama for rendering 50 years of service to the Tamil cinema, in Chennai on Monday. Actors Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth are in the picture.

M. Dinesh Varma

Spontaneous show of affection from Manorama’s industry colleagues

CHENNAI: Led by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, the film fraternity on Monday raised a toast to “Aachi” Manorama, a peerless comedienne loved as much for the spark of humour she brought to the big screen as for her humility and humaneness.

The tribute to Manorama on her completing 50 years in films since debuting in 1958 was marked by a spontaneous show of affection from her film industry colleagues.

Without peer

Mr. Karunanidhi, whom the industry regards as one of its own, lauded Manorama as an artiste without peer not only in the region but even in the world.

In her early days as a stage actor, Manorama acted in the Kalaignar’s play “Udaya Suryan,” and she would later refer to Mr. Karunanidhi as one of her biggest inspirations in life.

Mr. Karunandihi said he enjoyed Manorama’s effortless acting which had also given pleasure to countless fans. Referring to the actor as a member of his family, the Chief Minister recalled an incident in 1967 when Manorama and her mother took care of him while he was admitted to the general hospital after a car accident.

Actor Rajinikanth said Savithri and Manorama were the only two actresses to feature in the case studies presented to the class when he was a student at a film institute.

Positive influences

Kamal Haasan said during his early days he looked up to Manorama not just to pick up the nuances of acting but also to learn how to behave humanely. Crediting her with “all the positive influences in his life,” Mr. Kamal Haasan said Manorama was one of the few actors who could match the wit of Nagesh on screen.

In fact, during one of the shoots, Nagesh was so taken in by her skills that he forgot his lines and savoured her talent, he said.

Director K. Balachandar lauded Manorama, who has acted in more than 1,500 films and starred along with five Chief Ministers, described her as an actor sans pareil. His only regret, he said, was that the industry had not fully utilised her ouvre by typecasting her as comedienne.

Director Parthiban said he was privileged that the national award for Manorama was for his debut film “Puthiya Pathai.” Actors Prabhu, Sathyaraj, Vivek and Khushboo also paid tributes.

In an emotional response, Manorama “laid down all her glory at the feet” of four individuals—her mother, “Kalaignar” M. Karunanidhi, “Kavignar” Kannadasan and yesteryear co-artiste S. S. Rajendran.

Straight from heart

Earlier, as her colleagues in the industry spoke high of her straight from their heart, Manorama often became teary-eyed. She made no effort to hide her tears either. For, she was not crying for the camera, this time.

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