Chennai : Acclaimed south Indian film director K Balachander, credited with launching the careers of demigods like Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, passed away in Chennai on Tuesday evening in a private hospital after protracted age-related illness. He was 84.
Yesteryear Bollywood fans would associate with him Ek Duje Ke Liye the box office hit of the eighties with its melodious and haunting number “Tere, mere, beech mein, kaisa hain ye bandhan, anjanaa….”
A trend setter in Kollywood, Balachander was hailed by the filmdom as ”Iyakunar Sigaram” – a director who had attained the peak.
An employee of the Account General’s Office in Chennai, Balachander entered the film world as a playwright drawing richly from his stage troupe experience. He made his directorial debut with the film Neerkumizhi in 1963. One of his earliest plays Major Chandrakanth was made into a Hindi film Oonche Log in 1965 starring Ashok Kumar and Raj Kumar, which won a national award.
Subsequently the film was remade in Tamil with its original title. Another of his successful films Bhama Vijayam, a hilarious hit, was remade in Hindi as Theen Bahuraniyan. His national award winning Iru Kodugal too hit Bollywood under the title Sanjog starring Amitabh Bachchan and Mala Sinha in 1971. He also directed Aaina in Hindi besides winning the national award for the Tamil film Sindhu Bhairvai and Telugu films, such as Maro Charito (The original Ek Duje Ke Liye) and Anthuleni Katha.
In the seventies, he made heads turn with trend setting and controversial films, such as Arangetram (that dealt with a Tamil Brahmin turning into a call girl), Aval Oru Thodarkathai and Aboorva Ragankal.
The last mentioned film is better known now as iconic Tamil superstar Rajinikanth’s debut film in which he shared screen space with Kamal Haasan.