Movies

BS Saroja talks about working with MGR and Sivaji Ganesan in ‘Koondukkili’

Sivaji Ganesan and MG Ramachandran in ‘Koondukkili’

Sivaji Ganesan and MG Ramachandran in ‘Koondukkili’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The 93-year-old gets nostalgic about being the leading lady in the only Tamil film featuring both MGR and Sivaji Ganesan

She has many memories of her illustrious career in films, but the foremost among them is her role as a heroine in the only film in which MG Ramachandran and Sivaji Ganesan ever acted together. BS Saroja was signed up by her producer-director husband TR Ramanna to act alongside the two leading stars of that era in Koondukkili (1954).

BS Saroja, now 93, lives with her son, music composer Ganesh Ramanna, and fondly recalls the heady days of her career that spanned from 1941 to 1978, during which she acted in more than 60 films. She started her career at the age of 10, as as a singer.

So, how did the MGR-Sivaji casting come about?

“My husband TR Ramanna was close to both actors, each one calling the other ‘anna’. On many occasions, the topic of him casting them in his films would come up. Knowing that they were huge stars those days, he would tell them that he would do so only if they totally agreed to his requirements. After both agreed to this, when the opportunity arose, he called both of them and announced his decision to cast them in the same film. And, to top it all, I was the heroine,” recalls Saroja.

BS Saroja

BS Saroja   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The story, screenplay and dialogues for Koondukkili were by Vindhan, a social activist and reformist writer, with music by KV Mahadevan. The film revolved around Thangaraj (MGR), his wife Mangala (Saroja) and Jeevanandam (Sivaji Ganesan).

“There’s a twist in the tale: that Jeevanandam had espied Mangala on an earlier occasion and had instantly fallen in love with her. Unfortunately that didn’t work out,” she recalls.

Koondukkili had only a few sequences featuring the two matinee idols.

“But those were very dramatic and highly-charged sequences that stood out. It was the first time that I was acting with these two talented and popular stars of that era and I was always in awe of them. But, their professionalism and friendly approach and attitude helped me while enacting the required scenes with ease,” says Saroja, who has, during her long career in films, acted with almost every hero of those times.

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Printable version | Jul 9, 2020 6:18:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/bs-saroja-on-working-with-mgr-and-sivaji/article31905560.ece

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