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His memory lives on...

A great actor, `Sivaji' Ganesan enthralled Tamil audiences for more than four decades. A tribute to the legend, who passed away on July 21, 2001.

A YEAR has gone by since he passed away. But the charisma of thespian `Sivaji' Ganesan continues to sway film buffs. His films, telecast on television showcase the versatility of an actor who dominated the Tamil screen for nearly four decades.

When `Sivaji' Ganesan entered the tinsel world in the 1950s, exaggerated gestures and expressions and lengthy dialogue were the order of the day. And he excelled in whatever he did.

A colossus who rode the Tamil screen, he had given many a memorable performance, and in each movie, different faces of the actor were revealed... be it joy, sorrow, anger, hate or sympathy.

That he was a master of all he proved in the film "Navarathri", where he donned nine different roles. His acting style was marked by his characteristic raising of the eyebrows, resonant voice, inimitable swagger and perfect lip sync to the songs.

Of course, there were awards galore for his splendid performances. But the `award' Sivaji cherished most was "winning accolades from Rajaji and Kamaraj. After watching "Sampoorna Ramayanam", in which I play Bharatha, Rajaji remarked, "I saw Bharatha in Sivaji". That was the greatest compliment I have received. Kamaraj praised me as a fine actor and great artiste. These two compliments cannot be equated with any award."

Among the many awards include the Padma Bhushan, Padmashri and the Chevalier from the French Government.

He was also the first Asian to receive the award instituted by Napoleon Bonaparte to honour warriors. The icing on the cake was the Dada Saheb Phalke in 1997.

At the well-attended glittering function held at Vignan Bhavan in New Delhi, he got a standing ovation, a befitting tribute to an actor who has been immortalised by his films. When I went up to congratulate him, he smiled. That was the last time I saw the actor.

LAKSHMI SUNDARAM

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