Remembering Gemini Ganesan who rewrote love on big screen

Chennai: The date 14 February would be Valentine’s Day for the rest of the world, but for Tamil film industry, 17 November would be more relevant to celebrate love, for, as a matter of fact, it marks the birthday of the ‘King of Romance’, Gemini Ganesan.

Despite coming on the scene with star status only after Sivaji Ganesan and M G Ramachandran, who were already superstars, Gemini Ganesan turned out to be a heartthrob and made it to the third member of the three biggies of the cinema of their time.

When Sivaji was scoring and occupying the space with his performance and MGR was capturing the mass with his screen presence, Gemini Ganesan had a different formula, which led him to fill the hearts of a large female fan base.

He was literally a cupid of cinema in the late 1950s and early ‘60s, who was able to fit in as the male lead of all dream women of the era, including, Vyjayanthi Mala, Padmini, Rajasree and Kanchana. Especially, when he is on screen with his real-life love Savithri, the movie needed no special promotion than having their names on the cast sheet.

Gemini with is wife Savithri in a film.

His performances in movies like Missiamma, Kalathur Kannamma, Then Nilavu, Paava Mannippu and the legendary Maya Bazaar are unmatched.

However, his playing the role with multiple dimensions in the movie Naan Avan Illai was his career-best, which was personally claimed by Gemini himself. The movie, directed by K Balachander, had an experimental screenplay for Gemini’s character who would seduce a number of women. People even today sarcastically say that that is the movie that best suits Gemini’s real-life character.

The man did not stop there, but decades later, in Avvai Shanmugi (1996) he had to reprise the same kinda cupid’s role but in an elderly age. With that, one should say he was born, lived and died a Kadhal Mannan of all time.

Santhosh Mathevan