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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 have 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 into 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 is a loser."

Journey to stardom

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 even more popular on stage with plays like "Gauri Kalyanam" and "Pattanam Pravesam" which was later made into a successful film by K. Balachander.

The Balachander school honed his acting skills and made him very popular Tamil character artist in films in the 80's and 90's. Who can forget his great comedy timing with Kamalhassan in films like 'Michael Madan Kamaraj', `Avai Shanmughi', 'Tenali' and the Maniratnam classic 'Nayakan'. Says Ganesh "Some of the best films that I have done are in the 80's, "Sindhu Bhairavi", "Pasi" and above all "Nayakan". Later people appreciated my comedy timing with Kamalhassan in a lot of films. Today they don't make films like that anymore". Slipping into a reminiscent mode, Ganesh added: "Believe me I hated television serials because name and fame here is temporary, while on the big screen even now people talk about a 'Nayakan' or a 'Pasi' because they are shown umpteen times by the channels".

Delhi Ganesh says that he has done over 500 films in the last 30 years and was forced to do serials when the film offers dried up. Among the memorable serials he has done is "Marmadesam" as Dr KR whose villainous streak is known only in the end, "Ippidikku Thendrakal" where he had a positive father's role which had a lot of emotions and sentiments. Now he feels "Manavi" has given him a new lease of life.

He is also happy that in the serial featuring him, he had equal footing with the lady characters, something which normally does not happen to male characters in Tamil soaps.

Hindi films

However he is very practical and says that due to the reach of television he got to be featured in the Reliance ad with cricketer Virender Sehwag which made him very popular. Added Ganesh: "Thanks to the Reliance ad with Sehwag, I got a role in Sanjay Dutt's forthcoming film "Dus" in which I play a central Ministers role who is the main Villian in the film".

Suddenly Delhi Ganesh is your quintessential south Indian "Appa' in many TV commercials like Cadburys, TVS 50, Popular Appalams and many others. Confessed Ganesh: " Some years back I had given an interview saying acting in TV serials is a sin. I think I owe an apology, today the serials have come as a boon to actors like me who do not have films".

Ganesh says unlike the character he plays in 'Manaivi' in real life he is contended, especially after his family celebrated his "Shastipoorthy" (60th birthday) in style last year!

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