Chennai: Veteran Tamil director and cinematographer Balu Mahendra, known for his films such as Sadma, died Thursday morning of a heart attack. He is survived by his wife and son.
The 74-year-old five-time national award winner had recently released his directorial venture Thalaimuraigal that depicts the relationship between a grandfather and grandson, with him playing the protagonist.
He was born as Balanathan Benjamin Mahendran in Batticalo, Sri Lanka, into a Tamil family. In a film career spanning over four decades, he directed 22 films, many of them considered non-mainstream or art movies.
In 1978, Mahendra, mostly seen with his trademark cap and spectacles, won his first national award for his cinematography for the Kannada film Kokila, which was his first film as a director. For Moondram Pirai, he won the national award again for cinematography and Kamal Haasan won the best actor award. He paired Kamal Haasan and Sridevi again for the Hindi version of the film titled Sadma.
“Deeply saddened on the demise of Balu Mahendra. The legacy of his creations Sadma and Moondaram Pirai will live on. My condolences to the family,” Sridevi wrote in a post on Twitter.
In an interview to Rediff in 2002, Mahendra had said that of all the movies he had directed, he was “satisfied only with two—Veedu and Sandhya Raagam. I have made the least number of mistakes in these films.”
Despite the awards and recognition for his films, Mahendra, in the same interview, seemed regretful for his choice of movies, saying he could perhaps have been more mainstream. “Was I right in denying my family the comforts they would have otherwise enjoyed, had I been a little more liberal and commercial regarding my cinema?,” he said.