An affair to remember… Ninaithale Innikum!
Every movie lover would have an artist behind to spark the love for movies. For me it is KB Sir.
Director K Balachander gave meaning to the title Iyakkunar Sigaram (Summit of Directors). He had learnt so many rules of making a good screenplay that he can break them with ease to stand apart from the crowd and be a trail blazer for the Tamil film Industry. Many say his loss is irreplaceable but I feel he is immortal and would live through his movies.
When the entire film industry was making stories on the Kings, the riches or about the people below poverty line KB Sir came in and created an exclusive identity for middle class in his movies. This might be one of the reasons for a wider appeal to his movies. The conflicts established by him in each of the stories were unique. He started with writing and directing stage plays. With a great reluctance he took the opportunity for writing screenplay for movies and later fell in love with it that he started to make his famous stage plays as movies. You would see this in his early movies like Neerkumizhi (water bubble) in 1965, Ethir Neechal 1968(Swim against the tide), Major Chandrakanth and so on. If you see most of these movies would be a single set movie with very few scenes shot elsewhere. As people started seeing these movies they felt it was way different than the movies they had been watching and they were slowly beginning to realize the role of a director in movies. Till then what seemed to be a MGR movie, Sivaji movie now there were new type of movies addressed as Director Balachander movies. He became the role model for many directors to come later.
One of the iconic movies directed by him is Aboorva Raagangal in 1975. The movie features Kamal Hassan and introduced a new actor Shivaji Rao rechristened as Rajinikanth. Both of them later went on to take the Indian film industry by storm. Aboorva Raagangal dealt with intergenerational romance between two families which was quite a controversial topic during that era. But it went on to win 3 National Awards. Post this KB sir had directed many movies with Kamal Hassan and Rajinikanth in the lead which included Avargal, Moondru Mudichu and Ninaithale Innikum.
Music used to play a significant role in his movies. Aboorva Raagangal was divided into chapters, which were named after a swara or raagam. Ninaithale Innikum was a full-fledged musical which also dealt with a genre of mystery and romance. You would see the prominence of music in his later movies like Sindhu Bhairavi, Unnal Mudiyum Thambi, Azhagan, Pudhu Pudhu Arthangal and many more. Music in most of his movies were composed by M.S Viswanathan. In Sindhu Bhairavi he joined with Ilayaraja. He had introduced A R Rahman in his production venture Roja directed by Maniratnam. A R Rahman also composed music for the movie Duet directed by KB sir.
KB sir emphasized on the empowerment of woman in most of his movies. His lead women characters right from Avargal, Arangetram, Sindhu Bhairavi, Achamillai Achamillai, Kalki were bold, forward looking and very powerful.
He used metaphors predominantly in his movies. These were fondly referred to a directorial touch in Tamil Cinema. There also used to be a character which is insignificant in the gamut of the plot but plays crucial role in emphasizing a point, mood or the gravity of a situation in his movies. Rajinikanth’s character in Aboorva Raagangal, Irumal Thaatha in Ethir Neechal, the dumb and deaf painter in Varumayin Niram Sigappu, Telephone in Azhagan, Chaplin uncle in Punnagai Mannan and many more are examples of this. He had also given some great comedy movies like Bhama Vijayam and Thillu Mullu in which he had experimented Rajinikanth playing a full-fledged comedy role. This had introduced a different dimension of Rajinikanth which is still exploited well by many directors.
KB sir had dealt with many genres of movies, his initial movies were centered around family drama, later he shifted to social drama which covered impact of society on people’s lives, he also has given some of the gems in romance genre which included Marocharitra in Telugu, Ek Dujhe Ke Liye in Hindi, Punnagai Mannan.
KB sir is a true king maker. He had not only made the two star waltzes Rajinikanth and Kamal Hassan but also had rediscovered Nagesh as a character artist, introduced Prakash Raj and many more. He is so spontaneous and appreciates good art in any form. Once he sees a good movie he took time to write an appreciation note to the director who had made the movie.
Truly KB Sir is a film maker that everyone would wannabe. His affair with cinema will always be sweet memories … taking with lyrics from one of his movies … it is An affair to remember … Ninaithale Innikum!