By SM.02 Apr, 2019
Veteran filmmaker J Mahendran, known for infusing realism in Tamil cinema and for giving superstar Rajinikanth his career breakthrough with Mullum Malarum, died here on Tuesday at the age of 79.
The filmmaker passed away after a brief illness at his residence, a source close to the family said.
He was in the hospital for about a week for kidney related ailments and was discharged on Monday.
His last rites will be held on later in the day at his suburban residence.
He is survived by son John who is also a film director.
Mahendran was introduced to the world of cinema as a critic while working as a sub-editor in a Tamil magazine during his student days.
He started his journey in the movies as a screenplay writer and made his directorial debut with the 1978 film Mullum Malarum, featuring Rajinikanth in the lead.
Later, Mahendran and Rajinikanth worked on films like Kaali and Johnny.
The director’s popularity peaked with his movies Uthiri Pookkal (1979) and Nenjathai Killathey (1980).
In the past few years, Mahendran had switched to acting. He played pivotal parts in Kamaraj (2004), Petta opposite Rajinikanth and Vijay’s Theri. He was last seen in Tamil film Boomerang, which released on March 8.
Mahendran was also the founding member of Blue Ocean Film and Television Academy here.
Speaking to PTI, the filmmaker’s long time associate and producer G Dhananjayan said Mahendra redefined the Tamil cinema at a time when it was dominated by the trend of delivering lengthy dialogues.
“He brought the touch of realism into Tamil cinema and it made people connect more to his movies. Mahendran is the forefather of realistic Tamil cinema,” Dhananjayan added.
Many from the Tamil film industry paid homage to the director.
Filmmaker AR Murugadoss said:
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.
my mentor philosopher and guide Director Mahendran Sir ...RIP you were way ahead of times in your writing and thoughts ...we were all your students many of us thanks for showing us the path to real cinema
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.
Paid my last respects to #mahendran sir..u look peaceful.. you will never be forgotten..!! You should be proud @johnroshan sir of your dad and this amazing legacy he has left behind.. his name will go on forever.. legends are never forgotten.. #RIPDirMahendran sir..!!