Balaji Tharaneetharan is a Chennai boy and started his career in cinema by making short films, editing corporate films and documentaries and also worked as a dialogue writer before becoming a full -time director. He believes that scripting is the key to making a film. Balaji has gained his inspiration from film makers like Mahendhren, Balu Mahendra, Mani Ratnam and Bharathiraja but Bhagyaraj, and his film “Antha Ezhu Naatkal” is his all-time favourite. Balaji is one of the very talented directors from the Tamil film industry who proved himself in his first directorial debut with his comedy film “ Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom”. The movie was released on 30 November 2012 all over the state featuring one of the most talented and genuine actors in Kollywood industry, Vijay Sethupathi.

“Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom” is a cult comedy movie which describes the story of a young man who forgets few days of his life just before his wedding. The plot of the movie is that Vijay Sethupati while playing a game of cricket with his friends attempts a catch and falls because of which he loses his memory temporarily, a few days before his wedding. After the accident, his friends stick by him to help him get through the wedding and those tough days of his life without any trouble for anyone. The movie’s script was inspired by an incident that happened in C. Prem Kumar’s life, a cinematographer from the film industry and a friend of Balaji. During the incident Prem Kumar was working as an assistant cameraman in the movie “Vaaranam Aayiram” and lost his memory due to a fall while playing cricket with his friends, two days before his marriage.

Balaji was one among the witnesses of this incident in Prem’s life who began to write a script based on the incident and eventually ended up directing the movie. Another witness of the incident was Bagavathi Perumal who has played himself in the movie while C. Prem Kumar, on whom the movie was being filmed handled the cinematography. The preview screenings for “Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom” was held for critics and personalities from the industry and successfully the movie received a lot of positive reviews and attention from the media and technicians from the industry. The film was initially due for September 2012 but since it received so many positive reviews after the preview screening, the team decided to postpone the release hoping to achieve a wider release.

The movie finally hit the screens a month later receiving great response from the audience all over the state and was appreciated by many critics. Thus “Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom” was a sure winner and was a milestone in Vijay Sethupathi”s career as an actor while opening doors for Balaji as a director. Balaji delivered a wholesome entertainer with newcomers, talented technicians and a small budget while a lot of movies made under famous banners with huge budgets struggle in doing the same. “Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom” did very well in various awards functions gaining huge recognition for Balaji Tharaneetharan making him a leading debut director.The movie also won awards for The Best Script at the Vijay Awards and Edison Awards.

In January 2013, Balaji began to work on his second film titled “Seethkathi” which was to be produced by Vasan Visual Ventures. After a year of scripting, the director announced that the movie is being put on hold because of casting and adds that the movie will resume later in his career. In August 2014, Balaji made an official announcement that his next venture will be titled “ Oru Pakka Kathai” featuring Kalidas Jayaram, the son of the famous Malayalam actor Jayaram as the lead opposite Megha Akash. K.S. Sreenivasan is producing the movie under the banner Vasan Visual Ventures and C. Prem Kumar is the cinematographer. Like Naduvula… Balaji says that “Oru Pakka Kathai” is also inspired by real- life incidents and has a social angle.

He adds that such a script hasn’t been handled in Kollywood before and hopes to set another bench mark with his second movie. In both his films Balaji has worked with newcomers. When questioned about this he said that there is a big advantage working with newcomers as they could be molded the way he wanted them to be, they are open to criticism and feedback and a no date issues. Balaji made it big with his debut film “Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom” so let’s hope he does better with his second movie “Oru Pakka Kathai.”

INTERVIEWS WITH BALAJI THARANEETHARAN