K Balachander, Tamil Cinema’s One and Only Original Film-maker

The death of Tamil cinema’s Kingmaker and its one and only original film-maker, K Balachander, on Tuesday night in Chennai is certain to leave the industry in mourning for long.

KB, as he was affectionately called, was a master of the medium end to end who relied on only his creativity for the success of his films, most of which had offbeat and complex themes. He didn’t need a Rajnikanth or a Kamalahasan to lend weight to his craft. It was he who groomed them and enabled their success.

Such was his strength that he remained a powerhouse even when Brahmin artistes and filmmakers were being ignored by the Tamil industry. He was a great man who went beyond narrow considerations and gave wholesome praise for those who deserved it, including to Bharathiraja with whom he had a good rapport. The two even acted together in a film.

A celluloid genius, unquestionably so, he deserved much more than the Padma Shri he was decorated with. The Dada Saheb Phalke award he received in 2010 was nonetheless a fitting tribute for him.

Iyakkunar Sigaram (the film director who scaled the peak) K Balachander

Iyakkunar Sigaram (the film director who scaled the peak) K Balachander

He will be remembered for every one of his 150 films or so and not just a handful of them. He made some great films with Nagesh, including Server Sundaram and Ethir Neechal, and a few of my all-time favourites are Aboorva Ragangal (Rare Tunes), the film that launched Rajnikanth with Kamal in the lead role, Aval Oru Thodar Kodhai (She is a continuing story or Her’s is a Continuing Saga), Sindhu Bhairavi, and in fact every one of his creations.  

Even when he turned to the small screen he came up with endearing telefilms such as Rayil Sneham (Train Friendship).

He did not confine himself to Tamil, but made superhits in Telugu as well, including Maro Charitra which he also remade in Hindi with Kamalahasan, Ek Duuje Ke Liye, that marked the actor’s entry into Bollywood.

May his soul rest in peace!

Obit, Tributes and more about him:




G Joslin Vethakumar


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