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I am a Chola and not afraid of death - Nadigar Thilagam Sivaji Ganesan's rare English interview wins hearts

Thursday, March 2, 2023 • Tamil Comments
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A rare English video interview of the late actor par excellence Nadigar Thilagam Sivaji Ganesan is going viral on the internet. His proud reply for the question "Are you afraid of death?" and the confidence in fielding all other tricky questions has won hearts of even the generation X..

Sivaji Ganesan who switched from stage to the big screen in 1952 through 'Parasakthi' written by Kalaigniar Karunanithi is considered a guru not only to the Tamil film actors but most pan Indian actors of his era. The wide range of characters he played in the 300 odd films he acted can never be emulated and the history of Tamil cinema can never be written without him on the first page.

Tamil cinema fans who are well aware of Sivaji's unequalled Tamil proficiency and diction have been taken by surprise at his confident English interaction. It is well known that he dropped out of school when studying 3rd standard but still pulled off characters such as the King of England (Vishwaroopam) and a leading lawyer (Gowravam).

Veteran writer Rajiv Mehrotra's interviewed Sivaji during the latter's Dada Saheb Phalke Award conferration in 1997. He asked "Are you afraid of death"? to which the thespian replied with pride "No, why should I fear death? We belong to the Chola lineage. It is true that I have been in poor health for the last few years, I had some problems with my heart which was due to hard work and speaking out long dialogues loudly, but I have never been afraid of death" He added "For almost 15 years, I worked in three shifts and slept for three hours only but it was my choice and no one forced me".

The highlight is that without any hesitation the most respected actor ever conceded that he failed in politics. He revealed that he was one of the founding members of the DMK in the early days and then joined the Congress because of his love for Kamaraj, and the Congress party gave made him a Rajya Sabha MP. "But at the same time, after the death of Indira Gandhi, there was a rift in the relationship between the Congress party and me and after that I left the party. Although I am a failed politician, I am now spending more time with my family because I am not involved in politics, I am spending more time with my wife, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and I am very happy about this." is how he took his failure positively.

When asked if he felt bad about being recognized by the Indian government very late, Sivaji shot back that the then American President called him and made him the mayor of Niagara City and he is the only one honored after Nehruji. Similarly the pride of Indian cinema stated that the French government honored him with the Chevalier Award ahead of Dustin Hoffman.

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