Villupuram Chinnaiahpillai "Sivaji" Ganesan (1 October 1928 – 21 July 2001) was an Indian stage and film actor active during the latter half of the 20th century and was one of the most respected film actors in India. He was well known for his versatility and acting skills with numerous roles depicted on screen, which gave him also the Tamil honorific name Nadigar Thillagam (English: the pride of actors). He progressed from a stage actor since his childhood to the filmdom with such an authority that the Tamil cinema considered as the golden era. In a career spanning close to five decades he has acted in nearly 300 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 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 is referred to as "The Marlon Brando of Indian Cinema". He received the President's Award for Best Tamil Actor on numerous occasions. He is a recipient of four Filmfare Awards South and a National Film Award (Special Jury). In 1997, Ganesan was conferred the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, highest honour for films in India. He received in 1998 the NTR National Award. In spite of his celebrated film career, his short stint in politics became a futile attempt.