CHENNAI: The last glimpse, that familiar, much-beloved face with the thoughtful look and thick spectacles that was once synonymous with Tamil cinema: the cinema fraternity of the city as well as people in the background, the nameless faces whose lives he touched with his cinema, all gathered at veteran director K Balachander’s Alwarpet residence for this last glimpse.
Crowds swelled as his last rites went on quietly, and people shared tearful recollections of how the director touched their lives. As the vehicle carrying the body left the house, people craned their necks and stood on trees and walls to see for one last time that face that would now continue to be seen only on television, for generations to come.
Known for tapping the potential of big talent and introducing some of the biggest stars of the day to the industry, K Balachander was one of a kind. From Rajinikanth and Ilaiyaraaja, to Vikram, Karthi and Dhanush, politicians including P Chidambaram, Tamilisai Soundarrajan and D Pandian, the stream of visitors began early morning and went on until the departure of the body.
Creativity, unconventional themes and perfection - people learnt much from this stalwart. “I am privileged to have got a chance to work with a man with such perfection and concentration. There is something still missing, he would keep saying, and just not stop till he got exactly what he wanted,” shares director S P Muthuraman, who worked with K Balachander on films like Sri Ragavendrar and Naan Mahaan Alla, “Only some people can live beyond death , he definitely will.”
For people who never got to work with him, KB was a distant dream. “I could not work with him in my lifetime or become an actress, but I want to see him now,” says Janani, an elderly woman whose dreams of working with him never materialised.
“I have been seeing him everyday but I want to see him one last time,” shares Mallika, who works as a household help in KB’s house. “He was silent but always respectful. I would follow all his films and news about his awards.” Kalyani, whose husband worked as K Balachander’s driver , shares how it was a treasured moment of their life when she got to attend a family function and click a photograph with the director. “He was nice to all of us. He had a fascination for plants!” she says.
Thank you KB Sir for changing my life...For the moments, learning and unlearning. I’m crying out loud in pain. Will miss you my man. Love You.@prakashraaj
A r rahman
Dear KB Sir, your vison and creations have inspired three generations. Really grateful for introducing me through your company Kavithalayaa in Roja@arrahman
My mentor is gone! My radical lion with a brave heart is gone! I lost my Dad again. My guru KB is gone
S Ve Shekhar
KB sir had made it a point to witness and critique the dramas I have scripted. His blessings extended to my stint as an MLA as well when he gifted `100 to me. I still cherish that.
Balachandar reflected the social issues faced by the middle class people in his films. He declared Komal Swaminathan’s Thanneer Thanneer as his ideal film and exposed cruelty of the ruling class.
He had this ability to see through a person and identify the talent in him. His loss is a loss to filmdom
Bala and I both hailed from the same village in Tanjavur. We always had that connect. Even though we never had a working relationship, he was like a brother to me
A L Vijay
I have had sessions with him on film making. He has this quality of encouraging young artistes in the film industry. I wish his soul rests in peace.