CHENNAI: In South Indian cinema, she was the ‘Queen of the Seventies’. Now in her early seventies, Kanchana, the yesteryear dream girl who made her debut in 1963 through CV Sridhar’s Tamil blockbuster 'Kathalika Neramilai' (No time to be in love), fervently prays that the dream she shares with her younger sister Girija Pandey, should come true in her lifetime.
Kanchana and her sister gifted a piece of land, measuring over six grounds, in GN Chetty Road to the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams (TTD) in September 2010, for building a grand temple of Lord Sri Venkateswara on the sprawling premises in the heart of Chennai.
With time passing by and no signs of the TTD officials preparing the ground for building the temple, the sisters, who now live in T Nagar, not too far from the donated land, are worried. “We want the temple to be built and we want the officials to expedite the process,” says Girija, almost breaking down.
Girija has been a devotee of Lord Venkateswara since her youth days. “Back in the early 1970s, when the TTD Information Centre in Venkatnarayana Road had just a cut out of the Lord, not even the present idol made of plaster of paris, she would go there and perform poojas. She even used to take a priest to do the rituals,” recalls Kanchana, who is now 73 years old. “It has been our dream to see a grand temple of the Lord in Chennai for many years. So when we inherited the piece of land after the death of our parents, we gifted it to the Lord for building an abode for Him,” says Girija, whose three children are settled in various places.
Girija’s husband, KP Pandey, a retired IAS officer of the Karnataka cadre, feels that a section of the officials in TTD were planning to use the land, whose current market value was around Rs 50 crore, for building some other structure and construct a temple on the Venkatnarayana Road premises.
"The Venkatnarayana Road property spreads over just three grounds, whereas the G N Chetty Road land measures 288 feet in length and 60 feet in width, making it an ideal site for a temple that can be seen from over the flyover,” says Pandey, showing documents to prove that the land had already been registered in the name of ‘Sri Venkateswara Swamyvaru Thirumala Hills’ by the Chennai Corporation.
Deeply immersed in spirituality now, Kanchana, who has acted in over 150 movies in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Hindi, has this only prayer: The ever favourite Lord of her sister should get an abode in the land the sisters gave away to the Lord.