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Hit list, Date:22 March 2005
Gemini Ganesan 1920-2005
Popular South Indian film actor of yesteryear "Gemini" Ganesan, who died died in the wee hours of today, ushered in an era of subtle emotions on screen and was known for his wide range of talent. Known as the "Kadal Mannan" (king of romance), a title given by famous film magazine "Pesumpadam",Ganesan carved out a niche in Tamil cinema with his portrayal of largely soft characters sans exaggeration during the career spanning over five decades from 1950.
Born in an orthodox Brahmin family in Pudukottai near Thanjavur in 1920, Ganesan started his career as a lecturer in the Madras Christian College A meeting with camerman of Gemini Studios Ramnath led him to join the famous production house as an executive in 1947 and was thus given the tag "Gemini" when he started acting. It was the other popular production house - the AVM - that gave him the hero role in 1950 AVM's "Penn" and "Kanavane Kan Kanda Deivam" gave him the star status. From then on, he never looked back and acted in over 200 films in all the southern languages and some in Hindi, some of the more memorable ones being "Vanjikottai Valiban", "Konjum Salngai", "Missiamma", "Pasa Malar", "Kalyana Parisu", "Kalathur Kannamma", "Karpagam", "Then Nilavu" "Iru Kodugal", and "Punnagai".
In "Nann Avanillai", he played nine roles. Ganesan had acted opposite most of the popular heroines in his heydays such as "Sowkar" Janaki, Savithri, whom he later 'married', Vaijayanthi Mala, Devika and Saroja Devi. He was awarded the Padmashree in 1971 and bagged several other prestigious honours, including the Kalaimamani Award, MGR Gold Medal and Screen Life Time Achievement awards. Ganesan was one of the "Big three" of his period, the other being late Sivaji Ganesan and M G Ramachandran. But unlike the other two, he kept away from politics, though he was friendly with many of the top leaders.
Famous Hindi film actress Rekha is one of his seven daughters while another daughter Ji Ji had acted in a few Tamil films. One of the daughters, Kamala Selvaraj, is a Gynaecologist - expert on test-tube babies. His passion for acting saw him doing father rolls in a few films in the late 90s, including some with Kamal Hassan.
His name hit the headlines a few years ago when he "married" his secretary at a temple here and started living with her in a separate house. However, he came back to live with his first wife.