Tuesday, 29 March 2016

A chronicler passes away

By S. Janaki

Film historian 'Film News' Anandan, passed away on 21 March 2016 in Chennai, after a brief illness. He was 89. A walking encyclopedia of Tamil cinema, he was a meticulous chronicler and had photographs of almost every film released and details of the credit lines.

Photography was Anandan's passion. He worked as a freelancer where his job was to collect details about the actors, producer, and director of every film. This probably laid the foundation for his vast collection which he meticulously filed in folders and drawers. There is an interesting story about the prefix to his name. The editor of Film News once asked Anandan to take some photographs for the magazine and decided to publish them with the credit line 'Film News Anandan', and the name stuck to him ever since. He also tried his hand at acting and played some minor roles in films. He was one of the most successful public relations personnel in cinema. He recently published Sathanai Padaitha Tamil Tiraipada Varalaru – an extensive work on film history comprising data that he had gleaned from over 16,000 feature films in different languages.

Anandan received a few awards including the Kalaimamani from the Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Manram. The South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce honoured the veteran on the occasion of its golden jubilee. The South Indian Artists Association in Chennai conferred on him the title Kalai Selvam. It is heartening that this quiet chronicler, who stayed away from the limelight, received global recognition as Man of the Year from the American Biographical Institute of South Carolina, U.S.A. in 1998. He also received awards from Cinema Express, Filmfare and Dinakaran.

Anandan was a reliable resource for Sruti whenever we published a story on artists who had some connection with cinema. We would make a telephone call to Anandan to confirm facts or to get a photo or two, and he never disappointed us. From his collection he gave us rare images of the likes of Bhaskar Roy Choudhury, M.K. Saroja, M.K. Thyagaraja Bhagavatar and K.B. Sundaramabal. I remember he gave us about half a dozen prints of T.K. Shanmugam which we returned after publishing in Sruti. He was very happy that we also gave him the digitised images in a CD for his collection. When I called him some time in 2015 for some clarifications, he did not sound his usual self. He told me he would need more time to give me the facts because age was catching up with him and he found it difficult to sift through his vast collection as his eyesight was failing him. Film News Anandan was a repository of stories and images unravelling the history of Tamil cinema. His vast collection should be well preserved for it was Anandan's dream to have a permanent exhibition on Tamil cinema, easily accessible to researchers and the public.

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