Our Correspondent in Madras
Sivaji Ganesan, a stalwart of Tamil cinema, died in Apollo Hospital, Madras, on Saturday. He was 74
The actor, who was given the name 'Sivaji' by the late 'Periyar' E V Ramaswamy Naicker after his performance as the Marathi warrior king in the stage play Sivaji kanda Indu Saamraajyam in 1946, was one of the best-known Tamil actors of that era along with the late M G Ramachandran.
Ganesan was admitted to the Apollo Hospitals on July 12 with respiratory problems.
Sivaji, who had been suffering from a heart ailment as well for the last one decade, was moved to the intensive care unit after renal complications also set in and his condition became critical.The end came at about 1945 IST on Saturday.
Sivaji is survived by his wife Kamalammal, two sons and two daughters.
V N Sudhagaran, the controversial disowned foster son of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who is now in detention in connection with a drug-possession case, among others, is a grand son-in-law of Sivaji through his elder daughter Shanthi Narayanaswamy.
Sivaji's actor son Prabhu, who was shooting in Switzerland for a movie, was informed at 0300 IST that his father was on the edge. He is expected to return to Madras by 2130 IST. The body will thereafter be taken to Sivaji's house at 0300 IST on Sunday.
Kalaipuli Dhanu, who had produced Sivaji's last film Mannavar Chinnavar a couple of years ago, was in the hospital until the thespian was officially pronounced dead.
Dhanu recalled that only 20 days back, Sivaji had invited him over for lunch because some friends from abroad had come visiting and he wanted to have a get-together.
"Sivaji is an entire chapter in the history of Tamil cinema," said Dhanu, "every line of which has been a lesson for artistes of the past, the present and the artistes still to come."
Dhanu declared that if all Tamil artistes were placed on one scale and Sivaji, who was also referred to as Nadigar Thilagam [star among actors] on the other, he would still outweigh them.
Ganesan was conferred the title of 'Chevalier dans ordre des Arts et Letters' (Knight of Arts and Letters) by the Government of France in 1994. He was also conferred the Dadasaheb Phalke Award some years ago.