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Tribute! Director Mahendran brought out the best in Rajinikanth and Ilayaraja

Tuesday, April 2, 2019 • Tamil Comments

director mahendran When it was announced by Atlee that director Mahendran would play the chief antagonist against the mass hero Vijay there were doubts how a frail and soft-spoken man can pull it off in an out and out commercial film.  When 'Theri' hit the screens all doubts rested in peace as Mahendran towered as the ruthless politician and came back to the limelight for the benefit of the younger generation to get to know a true filmmaking legend before he left this world.

Mahendran is best known for his two film 'Uthiripookkal' that had newcomers in the cast and 'Mullum Malarum' that had Superstar Rajinikanth as the lower middle-class ruffian with a soft corner for his younger sister.  Beyond these much-celebrated classics that elevated Tamil cinema  Mahendran also contributed to the careers of two legends Rajinikanth and Ilayaraja.

director mahendran ilayarajaThe Isaigniani started his film music career in 1976 and four years later collaborated with Mahendran in 'Mullum Malarum' which produced his everlasting golden hits "Senthaalam Poovil", "Nitham Nitham Nellu soru" and "Raman Aandaalum" which will figure most prominently in millions of fans favorite lists.  The duo then gave more such immortal music including "Azhagiya Kanne" ('Uthiripookkal'), 'Kaatril Enthan Geetham", "Enn Vaaniley" and "Oru Iniya Mandhu" ('Johnny'), "Paruvamae Puthiya Paadal" ('Nenjathai Killathae') and  "Thaazhamboove" ('Kai Kodukkum Kai').

director mahendran rajinikanthAs for Rajinikanth he no doubt caught the imagination of the audiences by becoming a style icon and an action hero in the seventies.  But only through Mahendran's 'Aadu Puli Aattam' (Story and Screenplay by Mahendran) and later 'Mullum Malarum' directed by him that the intense actor in Rajini came to the fore.  Kaali the lower class ruffian who has a bone to pick with everyone except his younger sister who he loves more than anything else in the world.  The role had conflicts galore for Rajini to tackle as an actor and he came out in flying colors under the assured direction of Mahendran.  The duo later made the commercial flop 'Johnny' which is today celebrated as a cult classic which showed Rajini himself that he can handle dual characters with ease.  The close friends later collaborated in yet another different film for the Thalaivar 'Kai Kodukkum Kai' which brought out another dimension to his acting.  It is befitting that Mahendran and Rajini shared screenspace and some quality time offscreen recently through 'Petta'.

Sivaji Ganesan's iconic S.P Choudhary from 'Thangapathakkam' was created by Mahendran and Mohan's career took off with his love ballad 'Nenjathai Killadhae'.  Director Shankar and so many younger generation filmmakers have named Mahendran as their inspiration and though he has made only a handful of films he remains one of the greatest ever auteurs to grace Tamil cinema.