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I have been wanting to meet up and write about this particular gentleman,

our own Sollywood’s Rock of Gibraltar!

He is a treasure who collects our treasure!!

This is the finest example of passion and perseverance merging hand in hand

for not just a few years but more than 5 decades!!!

I went to Film News Anandan sir’s house and my tete a tete with him lasted more than 4 hours and that wasn’t enough to capsulate his amazing anecdotes and achievements.

This is a classic example of how we as mere mortals chart out a course for our career graph only to realize God has a different and better game plan for us!

Anandan sir always wanted to be a still photographer and an integral part of the celluloid world. His 1st tryst with destiny was when he met ‘kalaivanar’ N.S.Krishnan’s camera man Mr C.J.Mohan at National studio in the early 1950s!

CJM was stunned by this young man’s aptitude to clicking photos. Especially as Anandan sir had ingeniously taken double shots with the help of a cardboard to hide one half of the picture, at a time when dual images in the same photo was unheard of! The guru-sishya bond was formed.

A praiseworthy fact was that Anandan sir’s dad did not hesitate even a single moment and gave his son Rs 3000 ( which is a huuuuuge amount those days) to buy himself a roliflex camera to further his photographic journey!

Guess who his first model was?

An 80 year old man on the sets of Raja rani, in 1956.

In a hesitant tone, mustering up courage, he asked the old man, “can I take a few stills of you” to which the latter replied “Of course, you can take” (in English)!

He clicked away all 12 snaps (rolls then had 12 exposures only) and showed it to the same model the next day who went gaga over the snaps.

That dear old man was none other than our very dear Marlon Brando of South Indian cinema, Padma Shri Padma Bhushan Chevalier Dr Sivaji Ganesan!!!

This sishya’s joy knew no bounds when he started working as asst to CJM in ‘Manamagan’ directed by NSK, right after the latter’s directorial venture ‘ManamagaL’ the previous year. Sadly though the film was shot only for 2 days!

Anandan sir then became the 1st person appointed by Film chamber to record all films produced with details of the main lead, cast and crew for their journal. This record was published annually. Thus started his memorable career, to provide the archives we possess and are so proud of, for posterity!

He has recorded for us stills, details and news about films in all 4 south Indian languages plus south Indian Hindi cinema from 1931 till today!!

This octogenarian puts us to shame with his non-Ghajini memory! He shared an interesting trivia with me. He had informed director A.P Nagarajan (trendsetter of our 1960s films) that Navarathiri would be (Dr) Sivaji Ganesan’s 100th film. He was the one who kept count for all artistes as well as directors and producers.

Therefore since both Muradan Muthu and Navarathiri were releasing on the same day (!) APN requested that his film be released as matinee show and MM as noon show so that his would be the landmark 100th film.

Anandan sir also added that to Dr Sivaji goes the undisputed record of all his land mark films crossing a century at the theatres.

100th film – Navarathiri ran for 100 days

125th film –Uyarndha manidhan – same as above

150th film – Savalae samaali – same

175th film – Avan daan manidhan – same

200th film – Thrisoolam – 200 days

Anandan sir celebrated his 60th birthday with his friends from our film fraternity, who presented a cheque to him, having collected as his surprise gift a sum of Rs 40,000!

I asked him if I could click a snap with him and he immediately complied saying he needs to wear his round collared off-white shirt. He said, “there’s a story behind this too” with his simple smile! Apparently the veteran director Sridhar designed this as the shirt for the doctor (Kalyana kumar) in the film Nenjil ore aalayam and the entire crew wore the same styled shirt on the sets. Since he was technically not part of the crew (he was P.R.O) Anandan sir decided to make this his style statement ever since (from 1962) till this day!

His labor of love has been taken over by the govt. to be made into a permanent exhibition and archive. A friend of mine came up with this bright brainwave. Wouldn’t it be our way of thanking this ‘filmoholic’ for his passion and perseverance if the entire film fraternity plus all those who love cinema could contribute towards a personal fund? We could honor this ‘film news maker’ with the collected sum on the inaugural day of the exhibition!? This would be our way of making news about the man who is fondly known as ‘film news Anandan’!

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