Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Book Launch - Gemini Ganesan's Biography

Yesterday I attended a book launch at the Taj Deccan. Ms. Narayani Ganesan, daughter of the late Gemini Ganesan, veteran Tamil actor of yesteryear was the author of the biography written "in an anecdotal style" to bring out the person he was behind the screen. Dr. Akkineni Nageswara Rao, who was to launch the book in Hyderabad and who had acted with Gemini Ganesan in some films was indisposed and could not make it. However yesteryear actress Jamuna was there to launch the book, as were the author's sisters Dr. Kamala Selvaraj and Vijaya Chamundeswari.

Th evening took off under the open skies in a place called the 'Flower Garden', which was a brave decision considering the weather these days. Narayani Ganesan who is a journalist with the 'Times of India' in Delhi engaged in conversation with Jyotirmayee Sharma for a while, before they both read some passages from the book. Narayani recounted how she was relating some anecdotes about her father to Khushwant Singh at a party in Delhi and he suggested that she write them down in a book. Roli's publishing head was also there and so began the process. She said it was not easy to write about her father initially but she went ahead and completed it.

She read passages from the book about his childhood when as a young child from Pudukottai he would watch movies in makeshift tents. Hollywood action films were what he liked most. She related how he once took her to the Madras Christian College (where he studied and also taught Chemistry later) and told her how he would be roller skating while classes were on. When Narayani expressed her disbelief because the building was rather high and he could not possibly have jumped off, Gemini proceeded in a flash, without warning, to jump off the balustrade, on to the landing and further down from the first floor of their house to the ground floor. He was fifty then. And about times when she would go to confront him angrily and he would toss dosas that he was making on the pan at her.

I do not remember watching any Gemini Ganesan's movies though I knew of him as one of the three most popular Tamil actors of that time - the other two being MGR and Sivaji Ganesan. Gemini Ganesan (known as Gemini for his association with Gemini studios) is also more famously known as the father of the famous Hindi film actress Rekha. The eternal romantic married thrice - Alamelu Ganesan (whom he married in the hope that her father would make him a doctor, a promise he could not keep because he died within a month of the marriage) and subsequently, the famous Tamil and Telugu actresses, Pushpavalli and Savithri. He has eight children from them. Narayani is Alamelu's and Gemini's daughter. Most daughters are doctors and are settled in the US and Chennai. Rekha was not acknowledged by her father as his daughter for many years and she also bore that against him after she became famous but towards his end, they seemed to have made up.

There was a short video clip of Dr. Akkineni Nageswara Rao speaking of Gemini and he spoke as he only does - candidly and clearly. He spoke of how he warned Savitri not to marry the much married Gemini but she did not listen (and consequently hit the bottle leading to an early death at 47). there was much talk of his many romances and the heartbreaks he caused. But to me he did appear like a kind of a person who was very affectionate and who fell in love easily and who probably also promised too much too soon out of that. No reason why he would marry so many times! And much as it would have hurt the others involved, no one mentioned that Gemini himself must have suffered much, torn between his many affections. Maybe Narayani addressed that in her book.


Anonymous said...

hi how do i get the biography on Gemini Sir? i dont think its available in my country

Harimohan said...

You could try flipkart or any of the online book stores. Or even the publisher of the book Roli Publishers, Delhi, directly.

Anonymous said...

thanks. i hv ordered from amazon which is sooo expensive.