Tamil film industry mourns the demise of J Mahendran

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J Mahendran J Mahendran was 79.

The Tamil film industry and fans on Tuesday woke up to the sad news of veteran screenwriter-director J Mahendran’s demise. He was 79.

A self-proclaimed critic of Tamil cinema during his college days, his desire to see films where characters acted like “real and normal people” was the reason behind him starting his film career as a screenwriter. He made his debut as a story writer with Naam Moovar in 1966 and continued writing several iconic films like Panakkara Pillai, Nirai Kudam, Thirudi and Avalukku Aayiram Kangal among others.

In 1978, J Mahendran made his directorial debut with Mullum Malarum, which remains one of Rajinikanth’s best performances to date. The director proved that style and performance can co-exist as two sides of the same coin. He successfully blended Rajinikanth’s innate style and his trained sensibilities to pull off a range of emotions in a unique way. Rajinikanth himself credited Mahendran with laying the foundation for his brand of onscreen style. The actor-director duo also delivered hits like Kaali (1980) and Johnny (1980).

Mahendran retried from making films in 2006 after Sasanam starring Arvind Swamy, Gautami and Ranjitha in the lead roles. After a 10 year sabbatical, he returned to cinema as an actor. Mahendran played the main antagonist in Vijay’s Theri (2016), which was directed by Atlee. And then he appeared in a bunch of films, including Katamarayudu, Nimir, Mr. Chandramouli, Seethakaathi, Petta and Boomerang.

Tributes and messages of condolences have poured in on social media for the iconic director.

Director PA Ranjith paid rich tribute to the departed director. “Simplicity was your destination. Besides writing film criticism, you also showed us that films with artistic sensibilities like Uthiri Pookal and Mullum Malarum would attract a wide range of audience. Sir, your creations will live on,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

It’s worth noting that Ranjith had claimed that Rajinikanth’s character in his film Kabali was the closest to Mahendran’s Kaali.

“Mahendran sir’s work helped Tamil cinema to reach the world stage. Even when he’s gone, he will live on among us through his artistic works,” tweeted actor-director M Sasikumar.

“It is deeply saddening to hear the demise of one of the pioneer filmmaker #Mahendran sir. You and your films live forever in our hearts sir. Rest in peace (sic),” tweeted A.R.Murugadoss.

“#Mahendran He spoke less and his films spoke more. To me his films were of great inspiration. How can I forget the sleepless night I had after watching “uthripookal” May his soul rest on peace,” National-Award winning cinematographer PC Sreeram posted on Twitter.

Also Read | Tamil director-actor J Mahendran passes away

“Deeply saddened to hear about the demise of legendary director #Mahendran sir! A big loss to the Tamil film industry. RIP sir(sic),” Sibi Sathyaraj said via a tweet.

“I’m deeply saddened and disturbed by the demise of our veteran director #Mahendran Sir. A very humane personality and one of the finest director of our times. #RIPMahendran(sic),” music-composer Ghibran wrote on Twitter.

“Prayers and Salute to one of the greatest filmmakers of our times, #Mahendran sir (sic),” tweeted actor-director Lakshmy Ramakrishnan.

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