Veteran filmmaker Balu Mahendra dead

Balu Mahendra, whose innovative camera work and story-telling won him several national awards for films like 'Moondram Pirai' (Sadma), 'Veedu' and 'Olangal', died here today at a private hospital due to cardiac arrest following prolonged illness.

The 75-year-old director was rushed to the hospital where he breathed his last. He is survived by his wife and son.

Born on May 20, 1939, Mahendra, an avid photographer, started his cinema journey as a cinematographer, winning Kerala State Film Awards for his very first film 'Nellu' in 1974.

Mahendra is considered to be among the first to pioneer innovative camera style for colour in South India.

He infused a sense of calmness in his films, with the pioneering use of natural light and dealt with subjects of day-to-day affairs that changed the way films were made in south film industry.

Mahendra won the national film awards for cinematography twice -- 1978 and 1983 -- for his black-and-white directorial debut 'Kokila' and later for 'Moondram Pirai'. The film not only fetched Haasan his first national award but was also successfully remade in Hindi as 'Sadma'.

He went onto direct over 20 films in Tamil, Kannada Malayalam, Telugu and Hindi.

His other notable films include 'Olangal', 'Veedu', 'Sandhya Raagam', 'Vanna Vanna Pookkal' and 'Kokila' remake 'Aur Ek Prem Kahani'.

Mahendra had recently released his directorial venture 'Thalai Muraigal' which depicts the relationship between a grand-father and his grandson, in which he played the role of a protagonist.

'Veedu' (1988) and 'Vanna Vanna Pookkal' (1992) won the national award for the best feature film in Tamil, 'Sandhya Raagam' (1990) won the award for best film on family welfare.

Mahendra's death was mourned by his 'Sadma' actress Sridevi, musician A R Raman among many others.

"Deeply saddened on the demise of Balu Mahendra.The legacy of his creations Sadma & Moondaram Pirai will live on. My condolences to the family," Sridevi wrote.

A R Rahman paid rich tributes to Mahendra hailing him as an "inspiring visual poet".

"Dear Balu Mahendra Sir Thank you for being an inspiring visual poet, for directing such life changing Tamil movies... You have certainly been an inspiring stepping stone of creativity for many others who came later... May God bless your soul!," the Oscar-winning musician tweeted.

Director Venkat Prabu, actors Radhika Sarathkumar, Jeyam Ravi and Simbu were among those who condoled Mahendra's death. 

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