The Union Government on Friday conferred the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke award, given to persons in the film industry to recognize their contributions to films over several decades, on veteran Tamil film director K. Balachander. Fondly referred to as ‘KB’ in Kollywood circles, K. Balachander has been in the industry for close to five decades now.
The award, which is the highest in the film industry, carries with it a ‘golden lotus’’ medallion and Rs.10 lakhs in cash. KB has directed more than 101 films in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi in his more than 45-year long career in films. He has also produced many films including Rajini’s superhit ‘Annamalai’ in the nineties.
KB is credited with making some path-breaking films in Tamil when such scripts were almost ‘unthinkable’ in Tamil films. He is the one who created Kamal Haasan, superstar Rajinikanth (he also gave him the name Rajinikanth), Telugu’s Chiranjeevi and comedian-par-excellence Nagesh, actresses Jayanti, Sripriya, Jayasudha, Jayapradha and the late-Sujatha. So far, he has been the inspiration for 12 directors including Kamal Haasan.
Born in Nannilam in Thanjavur District in 1930, the 81-year old director has made several national award-winning films in ‘Iru Kodugal’, ‘Apoorva Raagangal’, ‘Thanneer Thanneer’, ‘Achamillai Achamillai’, ‘Oru Veedu Iru Vaasal’ and the Telugu film ‘Rudraveena’. He has also been the recipient of the ‘Padmashri’ award. KB was brought into films by the legendary MGR and debuted as script and dialogue writer with MGR’s superhit film ‘Deivathaai’ in the mid-sixties.
His directorial debut was the Nagesh-starrer ‘Neerkkumizhi’ in 1965. Rajini-Kamal starrer ‘Avargal’, Sivakumar-Suhasini starrer ‘Sindhu Bhairavi’, Chiranjeevi-starrer ’47 Naatkal’, Kamal’s ‘Varumaiyin Niram Sigappu’ and Rajini’s ‘Thillumullu’ have been some notable contributions of KB.