N. Ramakrishnan
N. Ramakrishnan

N. Ramakrishnan writes on infrastructure, renewable energy, cement and automobiles, and, of late, entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. Ramki is passionate about journalism; loves nature, reading, bird-watching, photography, politics and urban development.

N Ramakrishnan

Old rivalries don’t die!

| Updated on August 18, 2013 Published on August 18, 2013


One died almost 26 years ago and the other 12 years back. They were competitors and rivals when they were at the height of their careers. Now, the rivalry continues between their fans.

MGR, or M.G. Ramachandran, had an earlier start to his film career, at least a decade and a half before Sivaji made his mark on the silver screen. Between 1952, when Sivaji debuted in the runaway hit ‘Parasakthi’, and the early 1980s, when MGR acted in his last film, they were competitors and rivals, two powerful figures who dominated the Tamil film industry. They maintained a healthy respect for each other.

MGR had a successful political career, having broken away from the DMK to start his own party and riding to power in the Assembly elections in 1977. Till his death in 1987, MGR saw through many upheavals in his political career, never once losing power. He had carefully cultivated his image wooing womenfolk and the rural population, through roles that often portrayed him as the saviour of women and the downtrodden. Sivaji Ganesan, on the other hand, had a disastrous political career, his attempts at starting his own party having come a cropper. But as an actor, he was nonpareil.

Both had a huge fan following and both continue to have a fan following even now. There would be endless debates and arguments as to who was the better actor of the two. Sivaji was the “nadigar thilagam” and MGR “puratchi nadigar”. While Sivaji appealed to the class audience, MGR won over the masses. Sivaji’s screen roles were varied and he quite often lived the roles he portrayed.

Last year, one of Sivaji’s movies, Karnan – a 1964 film based on the character in the Mahabharatha – was released after digital re-mixing and still had people coming over to the cinemas to watch the movie, this writer being one of them. Then, MGR’s fans put out posters outside the theatres where Karnan was being screened, highlighting MGR’s greatness, as an actor and a human being. Now, when another Sivaji film, Paasamalar, a 1961 tear-jerker with some wonderful songs about a brother-sister relationship and the affection between the two, has hit the screens, one of MGR’s films, Netru, Indru, Naalai (literally translated as Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow) has been released.

The fans, it appears, will not let the rivalry die!

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Published on August 18, 2013
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