My best friend Sarojadevi    sister of Prabhuram Films partner Muthu Manikkam.

In the series I am going to share an interesting write up appeared in August 1960 issue of Pesum Padam. It was written by the Ms. Gnana Soundari daughter of Vettaikaran Puthur Amaravathi Koundar, wife of Pollachi Mirasdar Sivasubramania Kalingarayar and sister of Prabhuram Films partner Muthu Manikkam. She has written about her best friend and cinima actress Saroja Devi of yester years. I recently saw the movie Kalyana Parisu in which Saroja Devi acted in the role of Vasanthi. It was a tailor made role for her and I am doubtful whether it would have suited anyone other than her.

Impressed by her performance in the movie I was longing to meet Saroja Devi and befriend her. My husband even teased me that I had showed greater affection and love towards Saroja Devi than to him. My life time dream and ambition was fulfilled when the song sequence ‘Thazhayam Poomudichu’ was shoot for the movie Bagap pirivinai in a forest owned by my father Amavaravathi Kounder. The cinema troupe camped at the forest for a week and Saroja Devi stayed with us at our house.

Though I never had any previous acquaintance with her, the amount of friendship and love I had towards her, gave me the courage to call her as Saro when I met her for the first time and invite her to our house. Without any hesitation and to my shock she also has called me Gnana (my nick name known only to my family) how are you?. Later I came to know that she has collected every detail about me including my nick name before meeting me. We became very thick friends during her stay with us. I got attracted to Saroja Devi, due to her innocent and child hearted nature. She never showed haughtiness or pride about her being a famous cinema actress. She was talking like a child, very modest in approach and had the temperance to consider everyone as greater than her. After completing the shooting schedule she left for Chennai.

Later my brother Muthu Manickam and younger brother of Shivaji Ganesan V.C.Shanmugam had planned to conduct the outdoor shooting of a new film under Prabhuram films banner at Vettaikkaran puthur. The shooting of the film was arranged in the forests owned by my father that lay around seven KM from my house. Saroja Devi also came with the group. On seeing me she has enquired Gnana how are you and why you have become so lean and why don't you take some tonic to improve your health. In fact she was the one who has become lean due to continuous shooting schedules and was in the need of taking the tonic.

On a number of occasions I was on the verge of crying on seeing her straining her health, to save her fame and position in the cinema. She will not leave the shooting spot even at 2.00 PM for lunch, unless the director expressed satisfaction about her acting. I used to feel elated every time she gets the appreciation from the director for her acting capabilities.

I had never seen her showing fatigue during any time of the shooting schedule. In fact she will make anyone to get rejuvenated by her comedy talking. She was always fond of cycling and driving cars. She would go for long distance cycling and wait for us sweating to enable us to reach her by jeep. She invited me in advance to participate in the 100th day celebrations of the film Bagapirivinai. When she saw me she did not hesitate to hug me at the stage and enquire my good health before the audience. Though initially I felt shy but felt elated enjoying her love and affection towards me. Though the mother tongue of Saroja Devi was Kannada, she was equally eloquent in other languages. I still preserve her letters written in highly decorative Tamil language.

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