Bearing a legend’s name

It was in Madras city that Sivaji Ganesan became the icon that he was. In many ways, the city continues to bear signs of his presence, even as his family solemnly observed his 13 death anniversary on Tuesday.

Chevaliar Sivaji Ganesan Road, in the heart of T. Nagar, was christened as it housed the star at bungalow number 17, ‘Annai Illam’. The one-and-a-half-acre property, where his family continues to reside, was bought 55 years ago, seven years after his triumphant debut in ‘Parasakthi’ (1952). It was a prestigious address to possess, and nothing screamed his having arrived as counting the likes of M.G. Ramachandran, Jayalalithaa, and Manorama among one’s neighbours.

But where did the star find refuge before cementing his place in the annals of Tamil film history?

The 2 floor office space of National Pictures on Burkit Road, T. Nagar, was where the aspiring actor first found asylum. As a company artiste for the studio, he earned Rs. 200 per month and lived on its premises for two brief months.

According to his eldest son, Ramkumar Ganesan, it was around the 1940s his father first visited the city as part of a travelling theatre troupe from Tiruchi. Finally, in 1950, producer P.A. Perumal Madurai handed him a plane ticket to Madras for the screen test for ‘Parasakthi’, and Sivaji’s love affair with the city and its people truly blossomed.

After his bellowing debut, the newly-crowned movie star moved in to a house in Kodambakkam at No.1 United Colony. In less than a year, the star shifted into a two-storeyed house at Royapettah.

The building now functions as the headquarters for Sivaji Productions, managed by Ramkumar. He recalls, “I remember M.G.R. coming here and having dinner with us as he used to live on Walltax Road, quite a distance from the studios which were all in this part of town.”

A couple of years later, by September 1960, the star and his family made the mansion on then Boag Road their pride of place.

The mansion itself has a rather distinguished past to boast, and, uncannily, the road has successively been named after two people, both owners of the property. George T. Boag, an illustrious British ICS officer, and Venkata Reddy Naidu, the acting governor of Madras Presidency in 1936, are among the few to have inhabited the premises at different points of time.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2021 3:02:57 AM |

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