‘Teacher’s Day’ Special: Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan salute their Guru, Tamil film legend K Balachander

Winner of Padma Shri Award and Indian Cinema’s highest recognition Dadasaheb Phalke, K Balachander is the doyen of Indian Cinema, who is also reverentially referred with the title Iyakunar Sigaram (Highest Peak). In a career spanning over 50 years, the great filmmaker directed over 100 films in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi and has the distinction of introducing many new talents, most outstanding being Kamal Hassan and Rajinikanth

On this occasion of ‘Teacher’s Day’ Raaga.Com picks Indian Cinema’s two greatest stars viz. Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan saluting their Guru, Tamil film legend K Balachander, who introduced them to the world of tinsel town.

My first major role as an adult was in K.B sir’s (K Balachander loving addressed) ARANGETRAM, (1973), though it was a women-centric family drama K.B. sir extracted a powerful performance from me. 

Usually I was scared of him and it was Mr Ananthu, his right hand man, with whom I would be comfortable. You can gauge my scare for K.B. sir was so intense that in our 41 years association, for almost 35 years, I never had the courage to speak to him directly. Our conversation usually occurred via Mr Ananthu. Now when I look back I realize the fright was, in fact, my respect for his amazing craft. 

Initially he would always criticize me saying 'Your performance is occasionally good hence I would work more hard to perfect myself. Finally my hard work paid off when one day I was surprised to receive a letter from KB sir’s friend that read 'Dear Rascal, what a consummate artiste you have become!' 

For me KB sir was not just my guru but he was my friend, philosopher, guide and my father as well. I remember it was during one of my stage play that KB sir happened to watch and was kind enough to appreciate me. After the play he met me backstage and advised me to learn Tamil and meet him later. 

For me it was difficult task being a Maharashtrian but the charm of working with KB sir drove me to learn the language. Soon he offered me a powerful negative role in his Tamil cinema with APOORVA RAAGANGAL (1975) and rest they say is history. 

After this our relation from filmmaker and actor went beyond as he treated me as his son and I revered him as my father. We worked in over 10 films. In his death I lost a treasure!