Rekha gives dad's funeral a miss
Wednesday, March 23, 2005 15:34 IST
By Santa Banta News Network
Tamil cinema's "king of romance" Gemini Ganesan, the father of Bollywood actress Rekha, died early Tuesday after a prolonged illness.

He is survived by seven daughters and a son. One of his daughters is a renowned gynaecologist here, Kamala Selvaraj.

Ganesan, 84, had been unwell for some two months and had been in and out of hospital. According to Selvaraj, he died at 1.30 a.m. Tuesday.

"He was surrounded by his children and family. He died peacefully," she told reporters.

As arrangements were made for his last rites, family sources said Rekha would not attend the funeral due to her film engagements.

"She is shooting for a film in Kulu Manalu and therefore cannot come down today (Tuesday)," said a source.

The body was kept in a flower-bedecked casket at his home to allow people to pay tribute.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayaram Jayalalitha, who had acted in three movies with Gemini Ganesan, said his death marked "an end of a chapter" for the Tamil movie industry.

In New Delhi, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam said: "Ganesan was one of the most famous actors who strode across the stage of South Indian cinema. In a career spanning more than half a century, he brought joy and happiness to thousands of fans and cinema goers through his roles, which were full of passion and emotion."

Besides Jayalalitha, a large number of admirers and fans placed wreaths and flowers on his body. The Tamil Nadu government announced a state funeral for him.

"A chapter in the Tamil film industry has come to an end and it is an irreparable loss," said the chief minister.

In a career spanning over five decades, Ganesan acted in more than 200 films in Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Hindi.

He was known as one of the "Big Three" of Tamil cinema, the other two being the late M.G. Ramachandran and the late Sivaji Ganesan. Unlike the other two, however, he never tried to translate his popularity into a political career.

Fondly known as "Kadal Mannan" (king of romance), Ganesan acted in many box-office hits between the 1950s and 1970s. He was one of the rare graduates to enter films in those days.

He paired up with top heroines of the day such as Savithri, whom he later married, Saroja Devi, former Rajya Sabha member Vyjayanthimala Bali, "Sowcar" Janaki and Devika.

His first hit came at age 30, and many successes followed, such as "Vanjikottai Valiban", "Kalyana Parisu", "Missiamma", "Pasamalar", "Panama Pasama" and "Iru Kodugal".

After working as a lecturer in the Madras Christian College, Ganesan joined the Gemini Studios as a production executive in 1947, which gave him the title 'Gemini'.

Soon he did minor roles in a few films, but it was "Penn" and "Kanavane Kan Kanda Deivam" that gained him star status.

In his later years, Ganesan became the grand patriarch of Tamil cinema and acted in films like the Kamal Hassan-starrer "Avvai Shanmughi" and "Unnal Mudiyum Thambi".

A Padmashree recipient in 1971, Ganesan had also won several other prestigious awards such as the "Kalaimamani Award", "MGR Gold Medal" and "Screen Lifetime Achievement Award".

"Ganesan's death is the end of an era," said former Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi, who paid his last respects to the veteran early Tuesday.
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