Delhi Ganesh on staying with the times

Delhi Ganesh speaks about keeping his craft contemporary

Yadaartham (realistic). That’s the term often used to describe veteran actor Delhi Ganesh’s craft. Be it the Palakkad cook in Michael Madana Kama Rajan, the slimy manager in Avvai Shanmughi or the loving father-in-law in 36 Vayadhinile and Papanasam, Ganesh, 70, always gets into the groove of the character, owning it from the word go. “I don’t know how to react when people compliment me thus,” says the soft-spoken Ganesh, who has worked in over 500 films and innumerable plays, after a stint in the Indian Air Force.

Delhi Ganesh

All this, despite avoiding networking. “In fact, even during the audio release of Papanasam, I said that I have reached a stage where I want to relax and travel, but work keeps coming,” he says. “The film gave me a chance to work with Kamal again. I’ve been part of some classics with him — Nayagan, Thenali, Punnagai Mannan….”

As for 36 Vayathinile, where he encourages his daughter-in-law to reach for the stars, Ganesh says the role was very close to his heart because that is the kind of father-in-law he would like to be in real life too.

“My wife and I definitely do not want to be like the maamiyars and maamanars in teleserials. They rival Nambiar, Veerappa and Asokan in their villainy,” he laughs.

One thing that endears Ganesh to all directors is his ability to follow directions, implicitly. “Once I sign up for a film, I just go by the director’s instructions. For instance, when I was asked if I had seen Drishyam, I said I would see it if the director wanted me to; if not, I would play it my way. Anyway, one can never repeat another’s performance.”

The actor is hugely popular among short-film makers too and is part of many of their projects such as the recent What if Batman Was From Chennai? “Young directors are a delight to work with. With no preconceived notions, they provide enough creative fodder for actors. And contrary to what many people think, they respect talent and age. They push me to give my best, but also ensure that lunch is served to me at 1 p.m. sharp, considering my age.”

He speaks fondly of Narai Ezhuthum Suyasaritham, a 40-minute short about a senior citizen who discovers life outside of his family. “I loved the way director K. Manikandan (Kaaka Muttai) narrated the story. It was such an uplifting tale, and not melodramatic. Being part of such films is fulfilling; the money really does not matter.”