Kailasam Balachander or most popularly known as K. Balachander is a legendary film producer, director and screenwriter who dedicate his life in the film industry for almost half of his life. He was born on July 9, 1930 in a Tamil family in the Tanjore District of Nannilam, Madras Presidency, British India. He stated that, since his eight year, he’s been seeing cinema and as he recalls, he remembers that his interest and passion towards the cinema grew after he watched the films of the renowned Tamil actor and producer, M.K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar. At 12, he has done theatre and drama, which subsequently helped him in developing his passion for writing, acting and directing. He studied Zoology at the Annamalai University and even until his graduation, his fondness towards theatre continues to grow as he regularly donned stage plays. After his graduation in year 1949, he initially worked as a teacher at Tiruvarur District in Muthupet. In year 1950, Balachander moved to Chennai (Madras before) and became an apprentice clerk in the office of the Accountant General. It was when he joined an amateur drama company called, United Amateur Artistes. Later, he created his own troupe and it was the time that he became popular for being an amateur writer as he wrote the ‘Major Chandrakanth’ in English language. But the range of the English language was very limited in Madras, so he re-wrote the story to Tamil language which turned out to be a major success. His troupe was composed of renowned Indian personalities such as
Major Sundarrajan, Sreekanth, Nagesh and
Sowcar Janaki who all works as an actor in India. He also produced and directed plays like Navagraham (Nine Planets,
Server Sundaram (Waiter Sundaram), Naanal (Tall Grass), Neerkumizhi (Water Bubble) and more.
While he works in the Accountant General’s office, he got an offer to write dialogues for the 1965 Tamil film, Dheiva Thaai. He was hesitant at first since he is more into theatre, but a friend insisted and so he decided to accept the offer. At that time, he was promoted on his job as a superintendent. A.V. Meiyappan, a film producer and director attained the rights on his play, Server Sundaram and he went on to do a film adaptation of it. Nagesh played on the lead role and it received many accolades such as the Certificate of Merit for the Third Best Feature Film in Tamil and also the Best Tamil Film at the Filmfare Award. Major Chandrakanth was also adapted into a Hindi film entitled, Oonche Log and won in the National Film Award. Balachander’s directorial debut was from the 1965 Tamil film, Neerkumizhi which is also based on his own play. He also directed the Naanal and
Ethir Neechal which are also based on his plays. He also directed the Tamil version of Major Chandrakanth in 1966, which stars Jayalalithaa. In year 1967, he directed the full-length comedy film, Bama Vijayam. This film became very successful and he made a remake in Telugu and later, a remake in Hindi was also prompted entitled, Teen Bahuraniyan under the production of Gemini Pictures. In year 1969, he directed the Tamil drama film,
Iru Kodugal and the film won the Best Feature Film in Tamil Award at the National Film Award.
Balachander started doing off-beat films during the 70’s which primarily revolves on family and social issues. He directed four films in year 1971 and in 1973, he also directed the Tamil drama film, Arangetram which stars Prameela and Sivakumar. This is a film about prostitution and poverty and it also stars
Kamal Haasan who later acted in 35 films by Balachander. He was debuted in Hindi films through the 1977 Bollywood film, Aaina. He is also the director of the 1973 Tamil family drama film, Arangetram and the film, Sollathan Ninaikiren in the same year which was adapted from Manian’s novel. Later, he did the remake of the Marathi film, To Mee Navhech entitled, Naan Avanillai on 1974, which was produced by
Gemini Ganesan who also acted in the lead role, followed by the Tamil film, Aval Oru Thodar Kathai. This film is a story about a working middle-class woman inspired by the Bengali film, Meghe Dhaka Tara in 1960. This film was critically acclaimed and received the Best Feature Film in Tamil at the
National Film Awards. Balachander also won the Best Director award at the Filmfare.
During this time, Balachander has done films mostly with actor, Kamal Haasan in the lead role including the
Manmatha Leelai, Moondru Mudichu and
Anthuleni Katha, the Telugu remake of Aval Oru Thodar in 1976. He also donned the films, Avargal in 1977,
Varumayin Niram Sivappu in 1980 and 47 Natkal in 1981.
He made his re-entry to the Hindi film industry through the film, Ek Duuje Ke Liye in 1981 which also stars Kamal Haasan. This film is a remake of the Telugu film,
Maro Charitra and became a mark for several artists to made their debut in the Bollywood industry. The critically acclaimed film also received box-office success and Balachander won the Best Screenplay award at the Filmfare including two nominations for Best Story and Best Director. In 1985, he directed the film
Sindhu Bhairavi; a film about the romance between a Carnatic singer and his critic. Balachander later directed the Tamil drama films,
Paarthale Paravasam in 2001 and Poi in 2006.
He also venture in television from 80s until late 90s. He donned television series like
Rail Sneham , Anni, Oru Paasam,
Kadhal Pagadai, Kai Alavu Manasu, Ramani vs Ramani, Jannal and a lot more. Similar to the films he donned earlier, most of his television serials highlights the story about women. He also made a sequel to his film, Sindhu Bairavi entitled, Sahana in 2003. After a 40-year break, he returned in the play, Pournami which stars Renuka.
Balachander got married to Rajam in year 1956 while he was working at the office of the Accountant General. They have two sons and one daughter namely, Kailasam, Prasanna and
Pushpa Kandaswamy. Her daughter Pushpa is the chairwoman of Kavithalaya Productions, Balachander’s own production house. Kailasam is a businessman while Prasanna works as a Chartered Accountant, Managing Director and a CEO in one of the leading bank in India. His eldest son, Bala Kailasam who works as a head of the Minbinbangal Production House died due to a pneumonia last August 15, 2014.
K. Balachander was known as one of the best Indian directors; all the concept and subjects of his works are all his originals. He is also popularly known for introducing new personalities in the film industry. In his more than 50 years in the business, he had contributed more than 100 feature films and this made him one of the most creative film maker in India.
The prominent director died on December 23, 2014 due to severe urinary tract infection with fever that do not subside after constant treatment for the past week. He dies at the age of 84 in Kauvery Hospital in Chennai; but his memories and contributions to the film and television industry will never be forgotten.