Chennai: Balu Mahendra, whose innovative camera work and story-telling won him several national awards for films like 'Moondram Pirai' ('Sadma' in Hindi), 'Veedu' and 'Olangal', died here on Thursday at a private hospital due to cardiac arrest following prolonged illness.
The 75-year-old director was rushed to the hospital where he breathed his last. He is survived by his wife and son.
Born on May 20, 1939, Mahendra, an avid photographer, started his cinema journey as a cinematographer, winning Kerala State Film Awards for his very first film 'Nellu' in 1974 Mahendra is considered to be among the first to pioneer innovative camera style for colour in South India.
He infused a sense of calmness in his films, with the pioneering use of natural light and dealt with subjects of day-to-day affairs that changed the way films were made in south film industry.
Mahendra won the national film awards for cinematography twice - 1978 and 1983 - for his black-and-white directorial debut 'Kokila' and later for 'Moondram Pirai'.
The film not only fetched Haasan his first national award but was also successfully remade in Hindi as 'Sadma'. He went onto direct over 20 films in Tamil, Kannada Malayalam, Telugu and Hindi. His other notable films include 'Olangal', 'Veedu', 'Sandhya Raagam', 'Vanna Vanna Pookkal' and 'Kokila' remake 'Aur Ek Prem Kahani'.
Mahendra had recently released his directorial venture 'Thalai Muraigal' which depicts the relationship between a grand-father and his grandson, in which he played the role of a protagonist. 'Veedu' (1988) and 'Vanna Vanna Pookkal' (1992) won the national award for the best feature film in Tamil, 'Sandhya Raagam' (1990) won the award for best film on family welfare.
Mahendra's death was mourned by his 'Sadma' actress Sridevi, musician A.R Rahman among many others. "Deeply saddened on the demise of Balu Mahendra.The legacy of his creations Sadma & Moondaram Pirai will live on. My condolences to the family," Sridevi wrote.
A.R. Rahman paid rich tributes to Mahendra hailing him as an 'inspiring visual poet'.
"Dear Balu Mahendra Sir Thank you for being an inspiring visual poet, for directing such life changing Tamil movies... You have certainly been an inspiring stepping stone of creativity for many others who came later... May God bless your soul!," the Oscar-winning musician tweeted.
Bollywood director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra tweeted: "#Balu Mahendra one of the guiding lights in Indian cinema lives for ever".
Director Venkat Prabu, actors Radhika Sarathkumar, Jeyam Ravi and Simbu were among those who condoled Mahendra's death.
Next: Obit - Balu Mahendra, a stylish cinematographer
Obit - Balu Mahendra, a stylish cinematographer
Chennai: An ace cinematographer-cum filmmaker, Balu Mahendra is credited with introducing a new style of story narration through his camera by blending natural light with his character's expressions.
The style became a hit with his audience who instantly connected with the plot of some of his gripping tales like 'Veedu' and 'Moondram Pirai' ('Sadma' in Hindi) and helped the 75-year old filmmaker, who passed away on Thursday, to carve a niche for himself in south cinema.
Balu Mahendra leaves behind a rich legacy of films that will be cherished and discussed for long for both the treatment of the plot and the technical finesse.
His trademark cap and thick moustache, displaying masterclass all over, Mahendra, an avid photographer, made his cinema entry as a cinematographer for Malayalam movie 'Nellu'.
He infused a sense of calmness in his films, with the pioneering use of natural light and dealt with subjects of day-to-day affairs that appealed to the masses.
The story of a mentally unstable girl (Sridevi) and her relationship with a small town hero Kamal Haasan in 'Moondram Pirai' left many a viewer choked with emotions while the plot set in the picturesque Ooty provided the perfect backdrop.
The Haasan-Mahendra duo also came up with a comedy caper years later, when the director sensitively dealt with adultery in 'Sathi Leelavathi,' counted as one of the best Tamil films in the humour genre.
'Veedu' (Home), apparently inspired from his mother's personal difficulties in building a house, earned him critical acclaim and a national award for the film.
His last film, 'Thalaimuraigal' was released recently, with the plot revolving around the relationship between an old man, played by himself, and his grandson.
The film received rave reviews, especially for Mahendra who had made probably his one and only on-screen appearance.
Tinseltown condoled the death of Mahendra with musician A R Rahman paying rich tributes hailing him as an 'inspiring visual poet'.
"Dear Balu Mahendra Sir Thank you for being an inspiring visual poet, for directing such life changing Tamil movies... You have certainly been an inspiring stepping stone of creativity for many others who came later... May God bless your soul!," the Oscar-winning musician said in a tweet.
Director Venkat Prabu, actors Radhika Sarathkumar, Jeyam Ravi and Simbu were among those who condoled Mahendra's death....