The cast and crew of Thalaimuraigal met the press today at a subdued event in the city after receiving the Indian National Award for “Best Film on National Integration.” The absence of the late Balu Mahendra, who directed and starred in the movie, cast a pall of gloom over the event.
The movie’s producer, director M Sasikumar shared his experience working with Balu Mahendra and thanked the media for their continued support and encouragement. He said, “our society sidelines old people and this is very true of our film industry as well. Balu sir was the first person who proved that an artist can create and succeed, irrespective of his age!”
Actress Vinodhini was visibly upset throughout the event. She later said, ” I received a call from director sir a month before he died. He asked me to come see him because he had something important to tell me. But I couldn’t make it and this still pains me.”
The stars of the day were Master Karthik , who played the grandson of Balu Mahendra in the movie and Shreyas, the director’s real life grandson. They posed for the shutterbugs with reluctance, probably itching to get away from it all. When the photographers asked the little boys to look up, the duo obliged immediately and looked up at the sky. It took a good two minutes for the laughter to die down.
Shreyas received the national award on his late grandfather’s behalf last week and told us it was an ‘awesome experience’. He said he still feels his grandfather around him and hopes he ” happy wherever he is.”
The team then proceeded to light candles in memory of Balu Mahendra. The flickering candles gave the banner a muted glow and we were immediately reminded of some of the director’s earlier works. It was the kind of setting that Balu Mahendra specialised in creating. And we walked away with a heavy heart, knowing that was no longer possible.