The acclaimed Tamil film historian, fondly known as “Film News Anandan" passed away in his sleep at 11 am on Monday morning. He was 88. His son Diamond Babu confirmed that he was hospitalized at Isabel Hospital in Mylapore a week ago citing breathing problems. He also said final rites will be held tomorrow.
For many journalists in the city covering film, Anandhan was the absolute 'go-to' man. Despite poor vision, his memory was razor sharp even at old age, rattling off names and statistics on request.
Film critic Sreedhar Pillai points out what a valuable asset he was to Tamil cinema, "He was a walking encyclopedia on Tamil cinema. Since the 1950s, for several decades he has tracked cinema, and was on first name basis with all the stars." "He also had a great filing system where he would maintain a list of every movie which released."
In 1954, Anandan acquired 'Film News' to his name, when he joined one of the early magazines to focus on cinema in Tamil Nadu as a photographer. He also found a job writing for the South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce journal.
He managed to get stills, memorabilia, and song books of an awe-inspiring 6,000 films - dating from the 1930's talkies. With his collection of photos, he grew famous for preparing 100-film albums of the stars of those days – Sivaji Ganesan, MGR, K.R. Vijaya, Jayalalithaa, Sivakumar, even Kamal Haasan.
In 1991, Film news Anandan was conferred with the title Kalaimamani, the highest honor from the Tamil Nadu Government. He also received the 'Honorary director' title from The Cine Film Directors Association in 1989.
Condoling his death, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said, "I am deeply grieved to learn the demise of Anandan hailed as the historian of Tamil cinema and a walking library."
She said he had chronicled all the information and photographs related to the world of cinema in his long career.
"He passionately took up the work," she said, and added how he went on to bag several awards including the Kala Peetam, Kalichelvam and Kalaimamani.