Malayalam superstar Mohanlal worked with Sivaji Ganesan in Prathap Pothen's Yatra Mozhi. He reminisces about the legendary actor, with whom he shared a deeply personal relationship:
I'd seen a lot of Sivajisir's films during my childhood days.
But the first time I saw him in person was about 20 years ago when I was shooting for a film at AVM Studios. He was seated at a distance, silently watching the goings-on.
My shot over, when I walked past him, I found him looking at me intently. I hadn't been introduced to him and didn't know whether I should go over and speak to him. I was a newcomer then. So I stayed away.
But he kept looking at me. I could never decide whether he was actually observing me or just lost in thought. I got introduced to him much later.
He was a close friend of my father-in-law (Tamil actor-producer S Balaji). When I got married, Sivajisir attended the function.
My relationship with Sivajisir was not merely professional. It was always much more than that. We were like a family. He would call me maplai (son-in-law).
I also know his son (Tamil actor Prabhu) well. We acted together in Priyadarshan's Kaala Paani.
I was supposed to act with Sivajisir in Rajeev Nair's Swarna Chaamaram but the film did not materialise.
Then we were offered Pratap Pothen's Yatra Mozhi. The story was by Priyadarshan. I played a character wanting to murder Sivajisir, who realises later that this enemy is his father. That's the only time we acted together.
Throughout the shooting, Sivajisir kept telling me that he was doing the film for me. "There's no other reason why I should do this Malayalam film," he said.
He was a totally different type of actor. His style of acting was unique. He would always tell me that an actor's job is to act. And he would want his acting to show. He believed that the audience wanted to see the acting, feel the acting.
So everything he did would stand out. His mannerisms, his walk, his dialogue delivery, everything would change according to the role. He did not believe in repeating his styles. Even if played nine different roles, he would ensure the look and talk of each character would differ. That's why he was held in such high esteem.
For people who grew up watching him, he was not just an actor. He was not merely a film star.
I wanted to go there for his funeral, but could not. I couldn't break my commitments in Bombay...
As told to Anjum Nair
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