K Balachander, one of India’s most prolific movie directors, passed away on Tuesday, according to latest media reports.
He had been admitted at the Kaveri hospital in Chennai on the evening of December 15 and was said to be critically ill. He was reportedly admitted after he had developed fever and certain ‘age-related ailments’. However, the hospital released a statement later stating that “at present, he is stable and all necessary treatments are being given”.
Rajnikanth had paid the director a visit a few days ago, and the former told media persons that the director had recognised him and smiled and the actor ‘also expressed confidence that he would recuperate’.
Kamal Hassan, who then was in Los Angeles, also spoke to the director ‘for close to one and a half minute over the phone’.
K Balachander entered the film industry as a scriptwriter for the MGR starrer Dheiva Thaai. His 1965 movie Neer Kumizhi, earned him critical reception. The movie starring actor Nagesh won a National Award. Neer Kumizhi was a story about patients and staff in a hospital.
The 84-year-old filmmaker, who has written and directed over a 100 movies, was the man who named Rajnikanth, in his 1975 movie Aboorva Raagangal. Even before the movie’s release, he said that Rajnikanth would go on to become a phenomenon, which he did.
Rajnikanth was a villian in Aboorva Ragangal, but the association between the mentor and protege went a long way and they did movies like Moondru Mudichu, Thillu Mullu and Avarga together. It was in Moondru Mudichu that Sridevi first got a lead role.
It was not just Rajnikanth who he introduced; the veteran filmmaker’s protégés included other actors like Kamal Hassan, Sri Devi , AR Rahman, Chiranjeevi, Jaya Prada and Sarita.
Haasan, who is said to consider Balachander as his mentor like Rajnikanth does, also uploaded a video, with a get well soon message for the director, on his Facebook page.
Balachander, also became the recipient of India’s highest award in cinema, the Dadasaheb Phalke award for the year 2010. Apart from writing and directing for movies in multiple languages, he also entered the television industry and made a number of television shows.
Popularly referred to in the Tamil film industry as ‘Iyakunar Sigaram, he claimed fame in the film industry for the first time in 1965 with his maiden movie Neerkumizhi starring Nagesh. He was at the peak of his career between 1960 to 1998.