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TV's famous father

Delhi Ganesh, once a popular character artiste in films has made it big on the small screen



SUCCESSFUL INNINGS Delhi Ganesh is as appealing as ever in the latest serial "Manaivi"

Delhi Ganesh is one actor whose histrionics has worked on the big and small screen alike. Today at 61, he is undoubtedly Tamil television's sought after father. His role as Shanmugham Sundaram, the shrewd and cunning moneylender with hardly any feelings for his wife and children in "Manaivi" (Sun TV, Mon to Friday 10 p.m.), has made the serial popular among women viewers.

According to C.J. Baskar, the serial's director, "Delhi Ganesh is one of the few actors who can get under the skin of the character. When "Manaivi" started, his role had shades of grey but today he has made the character so real that people now sympathise with him as he is basically a nice guy with a bad tongue and also a loser."

Ganesh has come a long way from his Indian Air Force days in Delhi (that's how his name got the prefix). He used to entertain jawans by staging plays. After migrating to Chennai he became a popular stage actor with plays such as "Gauri Kalyanam" and "Pattanam Pravesam" (later made into a successful film by K. Balachandar). Being part Balachandar's films honed his acting skills and made him a popular character artiste of Tamil films in 1980s and 1990s. Who can forget his comedy scenes with Kamal Haasan in films such as "Michael Madan Kamaraj", "Avvai Shanmughi" and "Tenali". Says Ganesh, "Some of the best films that I have done are in the 1980s — "Sindhu Bhairavi", "Pasi" and of course "Nayakan". People have also appreciated me in comedy roles, particularly with Kamal Haasan in a lot of films. Today they don't make films like that anymore."

Slipping into reminiscent mode, Ganesh adds: "Believe me, initially I hated serials because fame is temporary here, while people talk about "Nayakan" or "Pasi" even now because these films are shown umpteen times by the channels".

Long acting career

He has done over 500 films in the past 30 years and was forced to do serials when the film offers dried up. Among the memorable serials he has done are "Marmadesam", in which he played the role of Dr KR whose villainous streak is known only in the end, "Ippadikku Thendrakal" where he had a positive role (of a father) with lots of emotions and sentiments. He feels "Manaivi" has given him a new lease of life and is happy that his role is as powerful as the other women characters.Talking about the Reliance advertisement that featured him along with popular cricketer Virendra Sehwag, Ganesh say, "Thanks to television's visibility, the ad fetched me a role in Sanjay Dutt's forthcoming film "Dus", in which I play a minister, the main villain in the film." He has also featured in other commercials such as Cadburys, TVS 50 and popular appalams. "A few years back in an interview I had said acting in serials is a sin. I think I owe an apology, today it has proved to be a boon to actors like me who do not have film offers," says Ganesh.

Unlike the character he plays in "Manaivi", he is a contended man in real life.

SREEDHAR PILLAI

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