The late Balu Mahendra, who shone as a filmmaker and cameraman in Chennai, was known as a Tamil literary figure in his native Sri Lanka.
Balu Mahendra’s full name was Balanathan Benjamin Mahendran, and was educated at Central College in Batticaloa in Eastern Sri Lanka, where his father was a much respected Maths teacher.
“Balu, as he was known, was very different. He saw himself as an artiste and a litterateur and always appeared in a white vetti and shirt. At some point he started a literary magazine for which famous Lankan Tamil writers wrote,” arts professor Mounaguru told Express.
“However, Balu was also in awe of the film world in India and would always talk about it and wanting to make it there. We were not surprised when he enrolled himself in the Film Institute of India in Pune to study cinematography and went on to make films,” Maounaguru said.
Lankan Film historian Thambi Aiyya Thevathasan said Balu Mahendra was a drama artiste with Radio Ceylon.
Prof Mounaguru, who is a leading figure in the field of LankanTamil folk arts, said the fact that Balu was married to a fellow Sri Lankan of Kerala origin could have been a factor in his decision to migrate to India.