Remembering K Balachander: Director Vasanth talks about his master, mentor, and father
In this week-long series dedicated to veteran filmmaker K Balachander to celebrate his 90th birthday anniversary, celebrities reminisce about the auteur and his work.
"‘Achamillai Achamillai was the first film in which I properly assisted KB sir, even though he had known me before. Naa romba thittu vaangina padam (laughs). I remember joining the shooting at Courtallam a bit late, and we were shooting ‘Odukira Thanniyile’ song. I thought we would be shooting near the falls, but KB sir just looked up and asked, "How will it be if we placed the camera there?” pointing to the start of the fall. Our 90-man crew trekked up the waterfall to shoot for that song, crawling on all fours to reach there. His passion for cinema was so intense.
On the sets, he was always deep in thought, working on subtle touches he could add to scenes. One day, we had all arrived at the set, but we weren't shooting anything. Suddenly, KB sir asked for a bell and a few other things. We didn't know what he had in mind, but we arranged it. Only later did we learn that he had planned a single shot focussing only on Saritha for three minutes, with voices in the background. We shot that the whole day and used 400 foot of film for it. The entire crew was spellbound; we hadn't seen anything like it before. His drive for innovation came not just to be novel, but also from the desire to create powerful images.
KB sir was a great man. It was such greatness of thought that manifested through his films. He hated wasting resources, especially water. His mind was always preoccupied with dialogues, and I remember him always reading out to us what he had written. We were the first audience to a man who had his way with words. Also, he created such strong women characters when heroism was the order of the day. That was what he came to be known for. Even though I would get scolded every day, he always seemed like a father figure when I went to meet him in the evenings. I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to train under him. I wish he hadn't left us so soon, I wish I could have shown him my Sivaranjanium Innum Sila Pengalum. It will always be a regret, but perhaps, I'll take this film with me to him when I go. (smiles)"
(As told to Ashameerra Aiyappan)