Anandan, ace film historian and legendary photo journalist of south Indian cinema, passed away here today after brief illness, his family said.

Anandan was 90 and passed away at his residence here this morning, they said. “He was recently hospitalised for breathing problems. He passed away this morning in our house,” Anandan’s son ’Diamond’ Babu told PTI.

Anandan is survived by wife, two sons and two daughters.

The cremation would be held tomorrow, he said.

Hailed as a “walking encyclopedia of South Indian Cinema,” he meticulously chronicled Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada movies starting from the 1930s alongside stills from movies. Even today photographs from top films till the 1980’s will be credited to Anandan.

Born on January 1, 1926, he came to be known as ‘Film News’ Anandan ever since he began working for a film magazine with that name in 1954 as a photo journalist.

Anandan had also worked for the South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce as a reporter collecting information of all southern films for them.

With film production of non-Tamil movies shifting outside of Chennai in the 1980’s, he confined himself to chronicling Tamil cinema since then.

He was also the first formal Public Relations Officer for any Indian film. In 1958, he was appointed the PRO for MGR-starrer Tamil movie “Nadodi Mannan.” He then went on to work as PRO for movies in all the four South Indian languages in a career spanning over 60 years. He had also worked as PRO for actors including MGR, and Sivaji Ganesan.

Even today, his reference book, “Tamil Thiraipada Varalaru,” (History of Tamil Films) is a ready reckoner for entertainment journalists and anyone else interested in knowing information related to movies of the non-internet era.

Condoling his death, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said, “I am deeply grieved to learn the demise of Anandan hailed as the historian of Tamil cinema and a walking library.” She said he had chronicled all the information and photographs related to the world of cinema in his long career.

“He passionately took up the work,” she said, and added how he went on to bag several awards including the Kala Peetam, Kalichelvam and Kalaimamani.