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Celebrated novelist and film writer Balakumaran passes away- Cinema express

Celebrated novelist and film writer Balakumaran passes away

The 71-year-old writer passed away at Kauvery Hospital, Chennai, earlier today

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Published: 15th May 2018

Veteran Tamil novelist Balakumaran, the man behind iconic lines like, 'Naan oru dhadava sonnaanooru dhadava sonna maari' and 'Neenga nallavara? Kettavara?', breathed his last in Chennai today. The 71-year-old writer passed away at Kauvery Hospital, where he was admitted for severe breathlessness earlier in the day.

Balakumaran, who made the transition to prose after a short stint in poetry, has written close to 150 novels and 100 short stories, which were published in leading Tamil periodicals. Some of his renowned novels include Irumbu Kuthiraigal, Udayar, Sugajeevanam, and Mercury Pookal. He was also a recipient of prestigious literary awards like the Rajah Sir Annamalai Chettiar Award (for Irumbu Kuthirai) and the Ilakkiya Chinthanai award (for Mercury Pookal). 

The celebrated novelist forayed into Tamil cinema with Mani Ratnam's Nayakan, assisting the director in scripting the film's dialogues. There on, Balakumaran's contributions in films were mainly in the field of script doctoring and dialogue writing. His work includes critically-acclaimed films like Baashha, Gentleman, Guna, and Pudhupettai. He also ventured into direction, with the 1988 Bhagyaraj comedy Idhu Namba Aalu. This was his sole directorial, however.

VZ Durai, who worked with Balakumaran in his directorial debut Mugavari and Kadhal Sadugudu, says, "The time I spent with Balakumaran sir was a fantastic period. He was like a godfather to me. More than a scriptwriter and an author, he was a spiritual guide to many people. Balakumaran sir was a very friendly man. Despite being a legend, he never had a bit of ego. I was only in my first year of college when I directed my first film, Mugavari; I hadn't even worked as an assistant to any director. But he was always encouraging and never treated me like a fresher. It's very rare to meet such a person. He was so knowledgeable; you could talk to him about anything. There are no words to express how great a loss his passing is."

Actor Prashanth, whose films like Jeans and Majunu had dialogues written by Balakumaran, says, "It's truly unfortunate. We've lost one more legend in the industry. He was a living dictionary and university. He was such a soft-spoken and God-fearing person. It was always a pleasure working with him. His command over Tamil and his sense of humour were impeccable. He was a lovely person. We've lost a wonderful soul."

Citizen director Saravana Subbiah says, "Balakumaran sir's loss is irreplaceable. He was a genius at adding realism to dialogues and elevating them to the next level. We worked together for almost eight months for the dialogues of Citizen. The detailing and nuances he added to his films through his dialogues was astonishing. For instance, the single line 'Ivargal inge pudhaikapadavillai vidhaika pattu irukirargal' conveyed the depth of the emotions involved with the story precisely. His versatility always surprised me; he penned the serious dialogues for social thrillers like Gentleman and Citizen and also worked on offbeat films like Manmadhan and Pudhupettai. He always maintained his consistency irrespective of the star value of the film. There are writers whose dialogues click well with a certain section of the audience, but Balakumaran sir ruled the hearts of everyone with his unique style of writing. No other writer can fill the void he has left."

Veteran lyricist and author Vairamuthu says, "Balakumaran was one of the important persons who grabbed the collar of the generation which slowly forgot the habit of reading, and asked them to read first and think later. Very few writers who ventured into cinema got the appreciation they deserved. The silver screen had kept big names like Pudhumaipithan, Akilan, B S Ramaiah, and Vindhan in a corner. But it gave only successes to Balakumaran. Sindhu Bhairavi, Kadhalan, Badshah and Idhu Namba Aalu are wonderful creations of his. Balakumaran will live long with Tamil through his creations."

Balakumaran was conferred the State government’s Kalaimamani honour for his contributions to cinema. He was also honoured with the Thamizh Thendral  Thiru.Vi.Ka Award in January this year, on Thiruvalluvar Day.

He is survived by his wife and two children. 

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