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On Sivaji death anniversary, M.R. Radha, Kannamba remembered

T. Ramakrishnan

Postal Department issues special covers on the occasion



ON THE COVER: Vatsala Raghu, Principal Chief Postmaster-General of Tamil Nadu Circle, presenting a special postal cover on M. R. Radha, to M.R. Dhanalakshmi, wife of the late artiste. — Photo: S. Thanthoni

CHENNAI: : A modest crowd gathered at the Sivakami Pethachi auditorium at Alwarpet here on Thursday evening well before the function began.

The occasion was the fourth death anniversary of the Tamil artiste, Sivaji Ganesan. The people were there not just to remember the contribution of the thespian but also to recall two important stars of Tamil cinema, M.R. Radha and P. Kannamba.

Devotion to work

Radha and Kannamba were contemporaries, whose heydays were during 1940-1960. Their styles were different but their devotion to work was total. Radha was originally a stage artiste but he later ventured into feature films. Though his maiden film, "Santhanathevan," was released in 1939, it was "Rathakaneer" in 1954 that made him a household name in this part of the country.

His performances in "Paavamanippu" (1961), "Puthiyaparavai" (1964) and "Hello Mr. Zamindar" (1965) were among the best.

Staunch follower

Politically conscious, Radha remained a staunch follower of the Dravidar Kazhagam's founder, E.V. Ramasamy Naicker, even after the birth of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. He died in September 1979 at the age of 71. Kannamba made her debut in Tamil cinema in 1935 through "Harishchandra" directed by Prafulla Ghosh. But, her lead role in "Kannagi" (1942) captured the imagination of people.

Twelve years later, her role of queen-mother in "Manohara" made her a symbol of the ideal Tamil mother. Her diction and delivery of complex Tamil sentences and idioms in several films never made anyone feel that her mother tongue was not Tamil (but Telugu). She along with her mentor-husband, K. Nagabhushanam, founded Rajarajeshwari Films and went on to produce several movies. When she died in May 1964, she was 52.

In recognition of the services rendered by Radha and Kannamba to the film industry, the Postal department brought out special cancellation covers at a function organised by the Sivaji-Prabhu Charities Trust in the presence of their family members.

G. Ramkumar, son of "Sivaji" Ganesan, said "we honour great artistes of the past. We initiated this effort five years ago when my father was alive. We have been continuing it since then."

"Inspiration"

"Sivaji Ganesan had always acknowledged that my father was his inspiration. Both the families have been close to each other," said M.R. Radha's son, Radha Ravi.

Jayarekha, granddaughter of Kannamba, says "it is great that the Sivaji Trust has chosen to remember the artistes of yesteryear."

At the function, Vatsala Raghu, Principal Chief Postmaster General of Tamil Nadu Circle, handed over to P. Kalavathi, daughter-in-law of Kannamba and M.R. Dhanalakshmi, wife of Radha, the first copies of the two postal covers.

Vaali, poet, and Nalli Kuppuswami Chetti, industrialist, recalled their relationship with Sivaji Ganesan.

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