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Naadodi Mannan (from April 2007)

When I was in Chennai last August, there was a Tamil movie running to packed houses. The alleys leading to the theaters screening the movie wore a festive look. Gigantic digital hoardings dotted the landscape. Colourful festoons and flags rustled in the breeze. Garish lights lit up the halls. Frenzied fans thronged the venues and the police soon gave up any attempts to maintain a semblance of order. The air resounded with hysteric hosannas to the hero of the movie. To add to the hullabaloo, songs featuring the actor blared from strategically placed loudspeakers. Fireworks went off in regular intervals. Tickets changed hands on the sly for outrageous sums. And inside the halls, when the hero appeared for the first sequence, bushels of flowers descended on the screen… camphor laden lamps were lit…. coconuts broken to smithereens…. ecstatic cries and whistles drowned the dialogues… Fans distributed free packets of Pongal and sachets of buttermilk amongst the audience…

And if you thought I was describing the scene at some recent release of Vijay, Surya or Ajit, you are way off mark. The occasion was the re-release (after many years) of MGR’s 1958 blockbuster ‘naadOdi mannan!’ ..........

There was a special show of the movie at Albert Theater to commemorate this event. Artistes who were part of the MGR era and fortunate to work with him arrived at the venue, smilingly acknowledging the enthusiastic greetings of the huge crowds. Padmini, who passed away a month later, was among the first to arrive. Sarojadevi and M.N. Rajam, who had acted in ‘naadOdi mannan’, were present on this historic occasion and shared their memories of working in the movie. ........

It was only with this movie that Sarojadevi came to the limelight and then went to pair successfully with MGR in many of his more

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