Friday, December 25, 2009

Resident's road

Like many of Madras' roads, Boag Road was also named after a senior civil servant who had his official residence there. It is likely that it was the only house on the road, when it came up sometime in the early part of the 20th century. In any case, the road leading up to Sir George Townsend Boag's house came to be called Boag Road, and continued to be called that until almost at the end of the 20th century.

Boag's name did survive for almost fifty years after he left India in the wake of the country's independence. His residence was then taken over by Kysamballi Chengalraya Reddy, the first Chief Minister of Mysore state. K.C. Reddy didn't stay there for very long, for his political ambitions and interests were outside Madras. In 1959, the house was purchased by Sivaji Ganesan, who was by then a very popular movie star. It was probably during the renovation carried out by Sivaji that the building acquired its Art Deco frontage; that renovation took quite a couple of years. When he moved into the house, Sivaji re-named it "Annai Illam" ("Mother's
Abode") - was it because he was also acting in a film of the same name during that time?

In 1995, Sivaji Ganesan was awarded the title of Chevalier of the L├ęgion d'Honneur; in 1998, South Boag Road (Theyagaraya Road had cut across Boag Road by then) was renamed 'Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan Salai'. Though the actor moved on to a higher stage in 2001, the house continues to be occupied by his sons, who consider it a memorial to their father. Surely, Sivaji's name will live on in the road much longer than that of Sir G T Boag!


workhard said...

Good post.... its informative.. the picture is not really appealing to the eye but gives a general idea of the place

Work from home India

Shantaram said...

@ Workhard: Need to work on my photography skills, I guess :(

Hobbes said...

As ever, wonderfully informative and infinitely interesting. Thank you sir, for letting us know namma Chennai better.


p.s I think its 'Shivaji' and not 'Sivaji'

Shantaram said...

@ Hobbes: I guess the road sign does say "Shivaji", but the man himself had used "Sivaji" - as inferred from this site

Hobbes said...

My bad ... Thanks for clarification sir :)