By Anita
Tribute to K Balachander, K Balachander, K Balachander tribute


If there are multiple strands of narrative, it can be associated to a KB movie. If you see a woman covered up completely yet looking glamourous, it is a KB movie. If you see actors not merely speaking the dialogues but enacting the scene, it is a KB film. If you see complicated relationships entangled beautifully, yes you are watching a KB film again. A true film auteur who has his uniqueness spread in all his movies. His creations truly travel beyond the four corners of the screen and touch our hearts at a very core point. His film expedition has been an inspiring one.
It all started with stage plays
After finishing Bachelors in Zoology from Annamalai University, this young man comfortably settled in a government job. As the job got boring, KB along with his colleagues started writing small skits where the audience were his other colleagues. One led to the other and he wrote a play for welcoming the new superintendent in his office and it became a superhit. Thereon, this little theatre troupe started writing and translating English plays to Tamil. His first play was titled Major Chandrakanth (it was about a blind, retired military officer giving refuge to the murderer of his son), which was later made into movies in three languages - Hindi, Telugu and Tamil. 
Redefined heroism
During the 60s and 70s, films portrayed heroism in every form, be it a common man or a god’s figuration. When a tall, dark and lanky man acted in the film Apoorva Raagangal, the viewers were taken aback for a while. Amidst the big names like MGR and Sivaji Ganesan, it was hard to accept this not-so-great-looking man in an important role except for KB. As weeks went by and the film became a box office success; the society saw a new charisma in his eyes. Shivajirao Gaekwad a.k.a. Rajinikanth’s journey of stardom started right at that moment.  
KB’s prodigies include Kamal Haasan, Sridevi, Chiranjeevi, A.R. Rahman, Jayaprada and Ramesh Aravind, not to forget the countless directors and scriptwriters he inspired.
In his films, heroes did not save the world or protect the universe, they stood up for their women, they were shamed for distrusting, they were shown struggling for their family, they were jobless, they were entwined in a relationship that was based on pure love and nothing else. More than anything else, his heroes were worshipped because they respected women.  
Progressive cinema 
Cinema in the eyes of K Balachander touched upon subjects that were offbeat yet common. His rarity lied in depicting the situations that happen in every house but were tabooed by the society. For instance the film Arangetram, showcased a life of a woman who became a prostitute to save her family. Starring Prameela, Sivakumar, S. V. Subbaiah,Kamal Haasan and M. N. Rajam in prominent roles (this was infact Kamal’s first film as an adult) 
Similarly, Varumaiyin Niram Sivappu was another film that showcased the life of bachelors who were jobless and how a woman changes their life. Server Sundaram, starring Nagesh displayed the life of a man who comes to Madras to become an actor but ends up serving as a waiter in a restaurant. The topics KB touched were the next door’s happenings. Every common man could relate to the thought-provoking subjects. 
His films encompassed extramarital affairs, mad love, poverty, life of a rape victim, political dramas, complex characters, multiple layering of narratives and so on. He gave a new definition for close-up shots, his camera angles were highly symbolic and his screenplay demanded undivided attention. His films were a masterpiece. 
Recognition incognito
For such uncompromising achievements in the film industry, it is no surprise that he received the highest recognition in the film fraternity, Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2010. He was the first director from Tamil cinema to receive this award. In 1981, he got his first National Award for the film Thanneer Thanneer that dealt with social issues such as water scarcity and political corruption. Apoorva Raagangal alone bagged 3 National awards. Honorary doctorates from 3 universities, uncountable Filmfare awards, Kalaimamani award and many more in the line.
Breaking the monotony, drifting away from the stereotypes, boldly talking about the taboos, initiating a change in the society which is needed even now, K Balachander did it all. He brought about an instrumental transformation in the world of Tamil Cinema.
Anita Raghuraman

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