Villupuram Chinnaiah Mandrayar Ganesha Murthy, known by his stage name Sivaji Ganesan, (1 October 1928 – 21 July 2001) was an Indian actor, producer and composer. Considered to be one of the greatest actors in Indian cinema, he was active in Tamil cinema during the latter half of the 20th century. His acting and dialogue delivery skills is still viewed as one of the greatest in Indian Cinema history. He was well known for his versatility and variety of roles depicted on screen, which gave him also the Tamil honorific name Nadigar Thilagam. In a career that spanned close to five decades, he had acted 288 films in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi. His eidetic memory helped him remember his scripts at a glance.
Ganesan was the first Indian film actor to win a "Best Actor" award in an International film festival, the Afro-Asian Film Festival held in Cairo, Egypt in 1960. Many leading South Indian film actors have stated that their acting was influenced by Ganesan. He received the President Award for Best Tamil Actor on twelve occasions. In addition, he received four Filmfare Awards South and a National Film Award (Special Jury). In 1997, Ganesan was conferred the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest honour for films in India. He was also the first Indian actor to be made a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
Ganesan is remembered as an iconic figure of Tamil cinema. He has been described by the Los Angeles Times as "The Marlon Brando of South India". In spite of his celebrated film career, his short stint in politics became a futile attempt.