Tamil movie star Gemini Ganesan’s daughter Kamala Selvaraj is unhappy with his portrayal in Nag Ashwin’s Mahanati, a biopic on actress Savitri, the New Indian Express reported. The May 9 release traces the acting legend’s career, also dwelling on her marriage to Ganesan, who already had a wife. Featuring Keerthy Suresh as Savitri and Dulquer Salmaan as Ganesan, Mahanati was released in Tamil as Nadaigaiyar Thilagam.
Selvaraj is the daughter of Ganesan’s first wife Alamelu, whom the actor married in 1940, and with whom he had eventually had four daughters. Ganesan married Savitri in 1952, and they had a daughter and son together. He was also in a relationship with the actress Pushpavalli, with whom he had two daughters, including the actress Rekha. In 1998, at the age of 78, Ganesan married again, this time to a 36-year-old woman.
Mahanati excises Pushpavalli’s character and only has Alamelu. Selvaraj told the New Indian Express that the film blurs the line between fact and fiction. “It does gross injustice to all the children of Gemini, and has defamed our father,” she said. “What has been shown on screen is a one-sided version that glorifies Savitri and bluntly ignores many other aspects of her life.”
Selvaraj said the scenes in the film involving Alamelu and Savitri were inaccurate, because contrary to the movie, her mother never approved their marriage. “The director didn’t even explore how my mother would have felt when she [Savitri] came into my father’s life,” she added.
She alleged that the film is imbalanced and biased because the makers did not speak to Ganesan’s family during their research. “I know they were in touch with Vijaya Chamundeswari [Savitri’s daughter], and I trusted her,” Selvaraj said. “In fact, I warned her about this. I told her to be careful of any consequential damage.”
Selvaraj also objected to other aspects of Ganesan’s characterisation in the film. “My father didn’t influence Savitri to become an alcoholic,” she said. “He did the best to give her dignity and protection, because he loved her truly. Also, Gemini Ganesan was a top actor, who was on par with MG Ramachandran and Sivaji Ganesan. But in the film, he is shown to be jobless and hanging around the sets of Savitri’s films all the time! There’s no mention of his fan-following in the film.”
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