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Sunday, 22 July, 2001, 12:48 GMT 13:48 UK
Indian cinema legend dies
Sivaji Ganesan
Sivaji Ganesan made his screen debut in 1952
Indian actor Sivaji Ganesan, a star of southern Indian cinema for almost 50 years, has died aged 74.

Ganesan, a household name in southern India, died following a heart and kidney ailment on Saturday, doctors said.


Ganesan had become a legend in his lifetime

Atal Behari Vajpayee
Prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee paid tribute to Ganesan's "emotive appeal and expressive visage", which he said transcended language barriers.

"Ganesan had become a legend in his lifetime," he said.

Ganesan had undergone by-pass surgery a few years ago and had been taking treatment off and on, a hospital spokesman said.

Local magazines have described him as the Marlon Brando of south Indian cinema.

Long career

The French government had honoured him with its highest civilian award, the Chevalier, and the Indian government gave him the Dada Phalke award, the country's highest honour in the entertainment industry, for his lifetime contribution to Indian film.

Real name Villupuram Chinnia Pillai Ganesan, estimates to the total number of films he had appeared in ranged from 170 to 300.

Indian President K R Narayanan, the Chief Ministers of the four south Indian states and several renowned film personalities joined tributes to the star.

His intense style of delivering dialogue in mainly historical and family dramas made him a star after making his screen debut in 1952.

Three languages

His film credits included Navarathri (Nine Nights), in which he played nine characters and starred alongside the present chief minister of Tamil Nadu state, Jayalalitha Jayaram.

Ganesan acted in the Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam languages.

He had been acting since he was nine years old, starring in stage productions in the 1940s before moving onto the screen.

He also acted in hundreds of Theru Koothu, a popular folk art form, and entered the world of politics in Tamil Nadu - but did not fare as well as he did in the world of cinema.

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