Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan paid tribute to iconic filmmaker K Balachander on his 90th birth anniversary.
Legendary filmmaker and Dadasaheb Phalke awardee K Balachander’s contribution to Tamil theatre is almost unparalleled.
K Balachander (Kailasam Balachander), also fondly called as KB, made his directorial debut with Neerkumizhi (1965).
He played a big role in shaping the careers of superstars Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth and Sridevi, and many other actors.
When K Balachander stepped into cinema, two legends – MGR and Sivaji were ruling the film industry in South; their films were largely driven by their star power.
Filmmaker Balachander still managed to create a new audience for his films, which were appreciated more for their storylines and not the stars. Regardless of the genre, his films had strong socio-political commentary.
KB always insisted that artistes should never get inspired by others but instead develop their own style.
Superstar Rajinikanth says that meeting K Balachander was a turning point in his film journey. “I came to Madras joined the film institute to become an actor but I never thought of being a hero. Actually, in the institute I was in the Kannada batch, I did not know Tamil. K Balachander told me to learn Tamil and said ‘you see now where I will take you’ he had so much confidence in me. He identified the talent in me and also made me aware of it.“
“Had he not introduced me, I would have still become an actor, playing small character roles in Kannada cinema. Fortunately for me, I have been blessed with name and fame. But all that was because of KB sir. In the four films I worked with him, Balachander made me a complete actor,” says Rajinikanth crediting KB for rechristening his name.
“Mr K Balachander, a mere name with fame that I heard as a teenager. Who would have thought he would take many roles in the life of an actor like me. Benefactor, mentor, collaborator, father & now when I think of his childlike energy, I feel the pride of a father. My salute to this important son of Indian Cinema,” said Kamal Haasan, whose first major role was in Arangetram.
Incidentally, KB’s last film Uttama Villain also featured Kamal Haasan.
Balachander also directed a few Bollywood films such as Aina (1977) starring Mumtaz, Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981) starring Kamal Haasan and Rati Agnihotri, Zara Si Zindagi (1983) starring Kamal Haasan and Anita Raj (this was a remake of Varumayin Niram Sivappu), Ek Nai Paheli (1984) starring Kamal Haasan (this was a remake of Apoorva Raagangal).
The most well-known Hindi film directed by Balachander was the romantic-tragedy film Ek Duuje Ke Liye.