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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2992

Sunday Celebrity: ‘Film News’ Anandan, the mobile encyclopedia on films

By Gopal Ethiraj from Chennai

Chennai, 0 7 June, ( He is film 'Film News' Anandan'Film News' Anandanhistorian, chronicler, librarian and indexer. And a veteran film journalist. His entire life, he has devoted collecting recording information and photos of south Indian cinema with so much passion and patience, that he became a celebrity himself, besides serving the celebrities in the tinsel world. What is more at the age of 87, this one-man movie data-base engine thugs on, still continuing to save and update all information to the posterity. He has an exhaustive information about 18,000 films made in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam, he says. He is Film News Anandan.

Based in Chennai Anandan’s valuable record goes to as back as 1930s. About south Indian cinema, even from silent film days. Born in 1911,Anandan started his career in photography and writing, producing and directing dramas, as a young boy. He came into contact with the film industry in 1954 and became an assistant to C.J.Mohan (who served as N.S. Krishnan's cameraman at the time).

Soon afterward, Anandan found himself serving as a photo-journalist for his friend, Devarajan and his publication, Film News. Thus ‘Film News’ got prefixed to his name.

He entered a new phase in his career and his life, when he began his own news service titled Film News in 1958. Even today, the Film News office on Peters Road, Chennai continues to be the one-stop center for all types of cinema news and information. For the media offices and journalists, Anandan is a ready recconer, ready at any time to provide information.

Besides Film News, Anandan's bigger achievement came through his establishment of the post called Public Relations Officer in Tamil Cinema. He served as the very first P.R.O in Tamil cinema for Nadodi Mannan, which was produced and directed by M.G.Ramachandran (MGR) himself.

This brand of PROs, who later claimed themselves as film journalists, found greater employment, have been serving as bridge between the film and film personalities and the public through the Press Anandan’s greatest ambition was to showcase all of his cine collections and memorabilia as a way to educate and arouse the interest of the public.

Anandan accomplished it, organizing and presenting his first exhibition on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the Film Industry in 1981. He conducted a cinema exhibition as a part of the Tourist Fair on three separate occasions for which he won the ‘Best Stall Award’ three consecutive years. Anandan also has the distinct honor of conducting exhibitions on Telugu and Malayalam films at the International Film Festivals in Hyderabad and Thrivandapuram in 1986 and 1988 respectively. More recently, Anandan was invited to conduct an exhibition celebrating the 50 years of A.V.M. Productions.

For such a man who has tirelessly worked to preserve both the past and present of Tamil cinema, and films of south Indian languages, the awards and accolades have come aplenty. As early as 1986, Film News Anandan received the distinguised Y. Venkanna Clowdary's "Kala Peedam" award for his tremendous contribution to Human Progress as a Film Historian. In 1991, the Tamil Nadu State Government bestowed him with their highest honor in the title of Kalaimaamani. Similarly, in 1989, Anandan was honored as a veteran during the Golden Jubilee of the Film Chamber.

Over the years, Anandan’s awards include Cinema Express, L.V.Prasad, S.S.Vasan, M.G.R., V.G.P, Lions, Ajantha, Mathi Arts Academy and Thums Up, et al . He has also earned a service medallion from Madras Film Fans Association in 1980 and 1988. He was proudly bestowed with the title of "Mobile Film University" by Tamil Nadu Film Fans Association in Raajapaalayam and "Thirai Thurai Agaraadhi" by Kaviyarasu Kannadasan (Kalai Ilakkiya Maiyyam).

He was awarded the "Kalai Selvam" title by the South Indian Artist Association in Chennai. Furthermore, Film News Anandan was given world recognition the year 1998, by The American Biographical Institute of South Carolina (U.S.) as a veteran among 5000 people around the world. Film News Anandan's name was included in the book (Who's Who... ) released in January 1998, while he was awarded the "Man of the Year for 1997" by the same institution.

S. Krishnaswamy’s writing in the then The Illustrated Weekly in 1965 on Anandhan's work is worth quoting here: "The collection is something wonderful. As you look through Anandan's albums, you travel through the years and recollect the faces of stars who have been lost in the shadows, and you feel as though an unbroken thread is connecting all these motion picture efforts together."

In 2003, he wrote to Ms. Jayalalithaa, then Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, to help him bring out the history of film industry in south India. The offer came from the government to acquire his entire collection. In the fag end of his life, he had to accept and the government acquired his priced possession for Rs. 10 lakhs. Also the Jayalalithaa government loaned him Rs. 5.5 lakhs for making film history book. The 8oo page book titled "Sadanai padaitha Tamil thiraipadangalin Varalu" (the glorious history of Tamil films); the book was even released by her and she declared the money paid was not loan, a 'gift'. Thus he was doubly benefited.

Anandan is now a worried man, worrying on what happened to those stills and books collected from him; is it properly maintained—is 60 years of labour and interest. If he is made until death the Custodian of those priced collection by the present Chief Minister Karunanidhi, Anandan feels he would more than happy.

Film News Anandan deserves to decorated with a doctorate for his works by some university.

- Asian Tribune -

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