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    I have lived my life: Balu Mahendra

    Friday, January 28, 2005
    Cinematographer turned director Balu Mahendra belongs to a dying breed of filmmakers who bring a rare sensitivity to their craft and an even rarer style and substance to their products. His kind of films --- leisurely, thought-provoking and serious --- have very little place among the formulaic monsters that are churned by the dozens every weekend.
    The thing about Balu Mahendra, a kind of a tortured genius, is he is a nuanced and discerning cineaste. He loves and lives films. And only a man of his passion can make his kind of films.

    His works speak for himself. He started his career as cinematographer with a Malayalam movie Nellu in 1971 and took to direction with a Kannada movie Kokila in 1976. Since then he has been at it with the relentlessness of the sun.

    From Azhiyatha Kolangal till his last Julie Ganapathy, Balu Mahendra has done it all and seen it all.

    The man, who sports a trademark cap always, is busy with Idhu Oru Kana Kalam with Dhanush playing the lead role.

    Unfortunately, he suffered a stroke in between; but thanks to an undying spirit and an inextinguishable fire in his belly (and heart), he is back doing what does best. In a sense, it is a different kind of test for him.

    There is no bitterness in him. But he is obviously disappointed with the state of affairs in the industry. Balu Mahendra says, "though I have rendered many successful movies in the past, I don't command respect in the industry. In contemporary cinema, what you did in your last film counts a lot.' Balu's Julie Ganapathy was a wash-out, and hence he has not been
    taken so seriously by an industry which sets much store by the mundane and pedestrian.

    On the big gap after Sathy Leelavathy, he says , "though Sathy Leelavathy went well, I had no offers coming my way. I was sitting idle for nearly five years till Julie Ganapathy happened. I had difficulty in even running my house. I never learnt the tricks of the trade as I never demanded a huge salary and took whatever was offered by my producers all through my
    life. Now I realize I have made a blinder. What I took as salary was many times lesser to what my contemporaries then received as salary.

    "I have no big savings, no property to boast off. All I earned all through my career is a reputation among serious film followers. When Padipaligal Sangam came in to being, I had the opportunity to interact with many film personalities and realized what they were paid as salary. Unfortunately the industry simply runs behind success. Directors who render just a couple of hits have producers lined up outside their rooms whereas a person like me has no one approaching. But I have lived my own life and I have no regrets"

    On Idhu Oru Kana Kalaam, Balu Mahendra says, "it's a youthful movie starring Dhanush and Priya Mani. The movie would be a youthful entertainer with lot of emotions. Dhanush is an extraordinary actor and has given his best for the movie. I hope it would be a movie that would take him to a different league"


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