The Tamil film industry plunged into gloom Thursday following the death of legendary filmmaker Balu Mahendra.
Leading actors, filmmakers and other artists made a beeline to pay their last respects to the director at his residence.
Kamal Haasan, Mani Ratnam, A R Murugadoss, Vijay, Suriya, Dhanush, Khushbu Sundar, Ilaiyaraaja, K Balachander, Bala, Cheran, Samuthirakani, Sasikumar, Ameer Sultan, Bharathiraja, Parthiban and others paid tributes to the late auteur.
Balu Mahendra, known for inspiring the audience with his visually uplifting films for over three decades, passed away following a heart attack. He was 74.
Born as Benjamin Mahendran on May 20, 1939, in Sri Lanka, Balu Mahendra had a fascination for photography since he was very young.
With a flair for capturing images, Balu started his career as a cinematographer and landed his big break in 1974 Malayalam film 'Nellu'. He went on to work as cinematographer in several award winning films such as 'Prayanam', 'Mullum Malarum' and 'Sankarabharanam'. He also won two National Awards for cinematography.
In 1977, Balu wielded the megaphone for the Kannada romantic-drama 'Kokila', which was also written by him. The film won the Karnataka State Award for the best screenplay. He directed films in all the four southern languages - Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu.
In the Tamil film world, Balu was regarded for 'Moondram Pirai', which he later directed in Hindi as 'Sadma' with Kamal Haasan and Sridevi. His other Hindi directorial was 'Aur Ek Prem Kahani'.
He directed one film each in Kannada and Telugu 'Kokila' and 'Nireekshana', respectively.
His Malayalam directorial films include 'Olangal', which was later adapted to Hindi as 'Masoom' by Shekhar Kapur, 'Oomakkuyil' and 'Yathra'.
As a director, Balu Mahendra pocketed three National Awards.
Balu Mahendra was one of the finest cinematographers of Indian cinema. Many years ago, Subrata Mitra, cinematographer of Satyajit Ray's films, presented a viewfinder to Balu Mahendra for his talent.
His legacy continues in Tamil cinema in the form of his pupils. Incidentally, most of his filmmaker students such as Bala Pazhanisaamy, Vetrimaaran, and Ameer Sultan had won the National Awards for their films.