CHENNAI: It’s been 27 years since he pressed a button on an audio cassette player that arrived in his mail, triggering a bomb that all but turned his life around. And till today ‘Sankar’ Ganesh is trying to forget it ever happened. “That was...” he pauses and shrugs, “There’s no point being bitter about it,” said the veteran composer — one-half of the famous Sankar-Ganesh duo, who have composed for the likes of MGR and Rajinikanth.
Though the faded gloves and thick boots are still hiding traces of the blast from November 1986, he now has one less scar to cover up. Courtesy Dr Amar Agarwal’s glued IOL repair surgery, the ageing music director now has perfect vision in his right eye.
Turns out, the effect of the blast hadn’t just stopped with the hands of the Moondru Mugam composer. It had ruptured the vision from his right eye and injured his other eye quite badly. “For years, I knew that something wasn’t quite right with my eyes, but in an effort to stay normal, I ignored the blurry vision and bad colours and just went on... composing, re-recording, driving. Sometimes when people walk towards me I wouldn’t be able to see through this eye and would blink repeatedly. I’m glad I didn’t get slapped by any woman,” he chuckled. “As I kept bringing my family for check-ups here, Dr Agarwal would keep telling me to show my eyes to him, but I would keep avoiding it,” admitted the man who has done over 20 films with Vijayakant and over 1,000 films in all.
“I was afraid. Very afraid,” he added.
He relented some three weeks ago, and what Dr Agarwal, chairman of Dr Agarwals Group of Eye Hospitals saw, stunned him.
“The bomb had scarred his eyes pretty badly and till about 2008 we could not have imagined replacing the lens or restoring full vision. But with this glued IOL technique, it becomes possible, even when we’re working with an eye that is so scarred and ‘angry’ when we touch it,” he said. Brushing aside Ganesh’s protests, they performed the surgery and by the following morning, the man with a penchant for gaudy gold chains and tight clothing had an epiphany.
“After years, I looked at this (points at his book of compositions and lyrics) and I could read without glasses. I normally make a joke about everything but even I didn’t say anything funny then,” he said.
And now, with the ‘extra’ vision, the composer who considers himself a ‘youth’ despite having made his debut in 1964 (and refused to reveal his age), said he’s going to make it count, “More concerts and orchestras and recording. That’s the plan,” he said. “From my young days when I used to visit MGR annan’s house, I have had only one policy — be happy and keep laughing,” he said and added, “Now I can do it without glasses, but the only down side is that the whole world knows that I’ve undergone eye surgery!”
Blast from the Past
According to reports in The Indian Express from November 17, 1986, Ganesh had received a parcel at his T Nagar home which contained a note and a ‘tape recorder’. The note said it contained a cassette with some ‘new’ music and if he liked it, he should give the sender a break in films. When Ganesh unwittingly pressed ‘play’, the small bomb was triggered and ripped his fingers apart, and injured his eyes. Since then, his career nosedived gradually and he had to settle for second-rung projects as the era of Ilaiyaraaja and A R Rahman began.