The Irreplaceable Legend

 Legendary film maker Balu Mahendra(74) passed away today after being admitted to a private hospital in Chennai following a heart attack.

Multifaceted living Legend, the most notable film maker of south cinema, Balu Mahendra strode the Tamil filmdom for more than three decades. From his first film as a cinematographer to his last venture as a director, he has embodied the spirit of his life in his films. His prowess as a director and cinematographer won him over five national awards.
Balu Mahendra first developed interest in film-making after watching the making of David Lean’s The Bridge on the river Kwai at the tender age of 13. He later went on to join FTII Pune and passed out with a gold winner from the institute. He got his first break as a cinematographer in 1974 when he was approached by ace director Ramu Kariat for his film, Nellu. Balu Mahendra went on to win the National Award for best cinematographer for the film. He then continued to work in 21 films as cinematographer. He was lauded for the natural use of lighting techniques.
He later directed his first feature film Kokila. It became the first Kannada film to have a 100-day run in Chennai. It fetched him a national award for best cinematography and Kannada state award for best screenplay. He decided to wield the megaphone next for a Tamil film. He went on to make Azhiyadha Kolangal, a story about the life of three adolescents. Balu Mahendra was highly influenced by movies of Alfred Hitchcock and Literature from Erich Segal. He is known to have loosely incorporated elements from them in his movies Moodu Panni and Olangal. But his best work came in Moondram Pirai, the 1982 film portrayed a tale of a school teacher taking care of a girl suffering from amnesia. This movie not only brought out the best in Kamal Hassan and Sridevi, but was reminiscent of his tragic marital life. The film was a runaway success which even paved way for the Hindi remake with the same star cast. The veteran never believed that star power can change the fate of a film. For him, the story and dialogues helped define it. He also made a mark directing an out-and-out comedy film in 1995 Sati Leelavati. He went on to direct nearly 20 films in Tamil, Malyalam and Hindi, he has even edited, handled the camera for some of his films, retaining a strong control over creative departments.
The 21st century millennium was almost a forgotten one for Balu Mahendra. His films like Julie Ganapathy, Adhu oru Kana Kalaam could barely create a ripple at the box office. After a hiatus of nearly seven years, Mahendran was back with a bang. He directed the critically acclaimed film Thalaimuraigal. A heart-warming story of a relationship between a grandfather and his grandson. He was instrumental in making neo-realistic cinema. His well crafted stories revolutionized Tamil cinema. Balu Mahendra has left a rich legacy behind. It includes those who are inspired by him and those who were benefited by his presence.

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