Cinema loses yet another legend, Balu Mahendra, who cannot be replaced. Balu Mahendra, how well someone of my age know about this legend? Does everyone know about him and his great work, if not, then the loss is theirs.
Balachander, Bharathiraja and Balu Mahendra are the big B's of Tamil cinema's legendary directors. Balu Mahendra started his carrier as a cinematographer in Malayalam language. He was a master in that, in the black and white era itself and worked with legendary directors like Mahendran and Maniratnam. He directed his first movie in Kannada, Gokila. Then, he started directing some master pieces in Tamil cinema, starting from Azhiyadha Kolangal to his latest Thalaimuraigal.
How do I know about Balu Mahendra? First, as a school kid I hear a song Kanne Kalaimane in TV, then I watch that movie Moondram Pirai and cry with Seenu in the climax and note the name Balu Mahendra at the end. That's how most of the young people might have encountered with this legend's name. Then, we watch Kadhai Neram in TV, which was completely different from other mega serials, which tell you a different story every week with minimum characters, you note down the creator of it, its Balu Mahendra.
Then, you see a psychological thriller movie Moodu Pani and you are stunned by its making and its Balu Mahendra's master piece again. You hear about everyone referring to a movie Veedu, whenever someone about to build or get a new home, who directed that, well its Balu Mahendra again.
From these films I guess Balu Mahendra is a serious director who handle only some heavy subjects and he won't try any commercial movies. But, people back then must have said the same to him so he gives them what they ask, a commercial movie named as Neengal Kettavai itself. Once in a while we watch a movie Sathileelavathi in TV, which was hilarious every time you see. Kamal Haasan paired with Kovai Sarala and the main character is Ramesh Aravind. I thought its directed by Kamal himself, but no. Every one of my friends has seen this movie minimum twice surprised when they get to know it's directed by Balu Mahendra's just like me.
And, every new directors who have given a stunning movie credits this legend as their master. Directors Cheran, Ameer, Vetrimaran, Ram and many others are from his school. These are the things that made me know about this legend even more and makes me watch all of his movies. Even though some of his last few movies were not as good as his previous movies.
His love for Illayaraja is huge, he told he doesn't know how many more movies he will make, but only Illayaraja will score the music for all of them that even Illayaraja doesn't know. It's sad to know we are going to miss those movies. And, this combo has given many evergreen classical hits like En Iniya Pon Nilave, Kanne Kalaimane, etc.
Balu Mahendra likes to handle the direction, cinematography, editing all by himself. In his latest interview he says that, if a writer writes a book that entire creation is credited to himself, a movie also should be made by himself entirely that's why he handles most of the important tasks in a movie. Even in his latest movie Thalaimuraigal, he acted as well as directing, editing. His first and last in front of camera and salute Sasikumar for making this possible.
RIP legend. Not only in Tamil Nadu, he must be celebrated all over India. You will be missed sir, but your movies will speak about you for a long time.