Filmmaker K Balachander, popularly addressed as 'Iyakunar Sigaram' (the director who scaled the peak), died in Chennai at the age of 84.
Born in 1930 in what was then Tanjore district (now Tiruvarur) in Tamil Nadu, K Balachander was drawn to theatre at the age of 12. Although he graduated in Zoology from the Annamalai University in 1949, his interest lay in the stage.
He started his career as a school teacher in Muthupet, Tiruvarur district in 1950. But his passion for the stage led him to form his own troupe. He rose to prominence as a playwright with the Tamil version of his play Major Chandrakanth, originally written in English.
K Balachander then made his debut in the Tamil film industry as a screenwriter and soon graduated to directing with Neerkumizhi in 1965. He is known for the strong portrayal of women characters in his films. K Balachander had over 150 films to his credit, many of which left an indelible mark on the masses for their hard-hitting subjects and unconventional themes. His blockbuster movies include Aval Oru Thodarkathai (Tamil), which was remade as Anthulaney Katha in Telugu, Maro Charitra (Telugu), Ek Duuje Ke Liye (Hindi), and Thillu Mullu (remake of Golmaal).
Revered as one of the best directors of India, K Balachander also gave breaks to noted actors Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth, Saritha, Prakash Raj and Vivek. He won nine National Film Awards, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, India's highest award in cinema, and was honoured with the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian award, in 1987.
Balachander married Rajam in 1956, with whom he had three children - sons Kailasam and Prasanna and daughter Pushpa Kandaswamy. His son Kailasam died on August 15 this year.
K Balachander was hospitalised in Chennai's Cauvery hospital following age related ailments on December 3.