Three years after a Madras High Court ruling asking for Sivaji Ganesan's statue to be removed from the Marina promenade, a memorial for the legendary actor was inaugurated on Sunday at Adyar in Chennai. Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam opened the building for public viewing, after an initial controversy over the Chief Minister, Edappadi Palaniswamiâ€™s refusal to attend the function. It was a meeting of film personalities and political leaders at the venue.
Actors Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Nassar, Vishal, Sarath Kumar, Radhika, Suriya, Karthi and several others were present from the film fraternity, while Deputy CM O Panneerselvam, Fisheries Minister Jayakumar, I&B Minister Kadambur Raju and Mafoi Pandiarajan were from the political sphere.
The late actor's son Prabhu, greeted all those present and thanked the government for the memorial that had been built to honour Sivaji. "Shortly before Amma (Jayalalithaa) passed away, she called my family and said there was no one better than her to build a memorial for my father. And today, her dream has come true. Sivaji Ganesan is beyond politics," said the actor.
Last week, a controversy brewed when both the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister refused to go to the inauguration of the memorial, and said that Information Minister Kadambur Raju would inaugurate the legendary actorâ€™s memorial instead. Prabhu had then released a statement to the media, where he said it was disrespectful for the two leaders to not attend the ceremony.
It is to be noted that the Sivaji Ganesan family is related by marriage to the family of Sasikala - who have been distanced from the AIADMK following the merger of EPS and OPS factions. Sasikalaâ€™s nephew Sudhakaran - who was once Jayalalithaaâ€™s foster son - is married to Sivaji Ganesan granddaughter Sathyalakshmi.
Following this pressure had mounted on the government in the form of the principal opposition party DMK that alleged that the â€śentire film industry is in shock to hear that the newly constructed Sivaji Memorial will be unveiled by group of Ministers headed by (Fisheries Minister) Jayakumar.â€ť
But the controversy was laid to rest when the Chief Minister announced that OPS would be attending the memorial inauguration on behalf of the government. "The Chief Minister called and said he was attending an event for MGR and that the deputy CM will be here," actor Prabhu said on Sunday.
O Panneerselvam meanwhile steered clear of politics and chose instead to merely praise the government and former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa for the successful completion of the memorial. "Amma had said in the Assembly that she will build this memorial and allotted Rs 2.8 crore for it. And today on the actor's birth anniversary, we are successfully inaugurating it," he said. The memorial has been constructed on Durgabai Deshmukh Road in Adyar is spread over an area of over 28,300 sq. ft. According to reports, the building has been constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture and is adorned with domes.