CHENNAI: Legendary Tamil actor, the late Sivaji Ganesan’s portrayal of Veerapandiya Kattabomman had even impressed people in far away Egypt.
Sharing this snippet, V Srinivasan, the vice president of Nadigar Thilagam Sivaji Samooga Nala Peravai, who had turned up at the Shanti Theatre on Friday to watch the movie once more, said, the premiere of the movie was held in London.
“Vijayalakshmi Pandit, the sister of then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, inaugurated its screening at the Tamil Sangam in London. This is the only Indian film to have won Afro-Asian awards in three categories - Best Acting, Best Music and Best film in 1960,” he said.
“The film was a silver jubilee hit in 1959 when it first released, running for over 175 days. Interestingly, this film impressed audiences in Egypt too which had been a British colony and needless to say, it was a hit there too. The film was again re-released in 1984 in Tamil Nadu when MGR was the Chief Minister. He gave it tax exemption and it again ran for 30 weeks, raking in the moolah at the box office again,” recalled Srinivasan.
When Sivaji went to receive the Afro-Asian award in Cairo, the Egyptian President Nasser had gone abroad. So, he made a request that if Nasser ever visited India, he must spend time with him. “President Nasser obliged and when he came to India, Prime Minister Nehru gave permission to Sivaji Ganesan to host a function in Nasser’s honour,” he added. Natraj, a fan, claimed he had watched the film for over 50 times. He first saw the movie as a kid with his parents and in his adulthood with his wife and daughter.
Murali of Sai Ganesh Films, which has bought the rights to re-release the film all over Tamil Nadu, said, “Raj TV holds the rights to the negatives of the film. We have bought the rights and are releasing it in 70 to 100 theatres.”
In 1959, when the film was first released, it was on 35mm and it had mono-sound. Now, it has been converted to cinemascope with a 5.1 surround system.
A fan, Mukkur K Sivaji Kumar, who has watched every film of the star right from 1965, has preserved the ticket snubs of all shows. Another fan, M S Balaji, is so thorough with the works of Sivaji that he can recollect all the 288 names of the actor’s films in alphabetical order.