It appears to be a season for comebacks, what with so many yesteryear actors donning the greasepaint again and some even wielding the megaphone. Naturally, director-cinematographer Balu Mahendra’s latest film Thalaimuraigal has made news. After all, the last movie he directed was the Dhanush-Priyamani starrer Adhu Oru Kanakaalam in 2005.
Of course, the director does not think of it as a comeback as he feels he has always been connected to the industry, thanks to his film school. Now, he is happy that Thalaimuraigal is complete and ready to be released by the end of this month or early October.
Balu’s movies have always revolved around relationships and this time it is no different – except Thiraimuraigal explores the relationship between an eight-year-old boy and his grandfather.
Incidentally, the character of the grandfather is being played by Balu himself, who for the first time, finds himself in front of the camera. “I genuinely feel I can act. Moreover what is more important is that I felt I was suitable for the role,” he says, while candidly admitting, “Also no other actor was willing to work within the allotted budget.
The grandfather is fanatical about his caste, language and religion and speaks Tamil while the city-bred boy knows only English. As they interact, the grandfather loses his prejudice over caste and religion, while the boy sees and learns things which he would not have dreamt of in the city. “It is a simple story. In a way, I am reliving my childhood by doing this film,” says Balu.
The ace director is also pleased that he has kept his promise to his producer to stick to the budget – the producer in question being actor-director Sasikumar. As the latter is a protégé of Bala and Ameer, Balu says that it is “all in the family”.
The rest of the cast are all new faces. “There is Sashi, who has acted in 32 short films, Ramya, who is a model, and Vinodhini, a teacher from my film school, who plays my daughter in the film. The grandson’s role is played by Karthik,” reveals Balu.
This is the first time that the 74-year-old director is shooting in the digital format and with a still camera. “When what you are writing is poetry, it does not matter whether you are writing on toilet paper or bond paper,” says Balu, passing on this sage advice to his students as well.