Biography of Balu Mahendra-Awards Winning-South Indian Cinematographer/Director

Name: Balanathan Benjamin Mahendran

Known As: Balu Mahendra

Date of Birth: 20th May 1939 (Born at Batticaloa, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka)

Date of Death: 13th February 2014 at the age of 74 years


Primary and Secondary Education at Methodist Central College and St. Michael’s College, Batticaloa, Srilanka

Bachelor of Science (Honours) at London University and

Cinematography at Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune 1966-69- Graduated in cinematography with a Gold Medal

Occupation: Cinematographer, Screen Writer, Film Editor and Director



Late Actress Shoba and

Actress Mounika

Films Career of Balu Mahendra: 

Balu Mahendra started his films career as a cinematographer in the year 1970 by the Malayalam film ‘Nellu’ released in the year 1974 which got him the ‘Kerala State Award for the Best Cinematographer’.

He became a director in the year 1977 by his Kannada Film ‘Kokila’.

Balu Mahendra started his films career in Tamil from the year 1978.

The following are some of  the notable films in Tamil, Malayalam and Hindi of Balu Mahendra:

  • ‘Mullum Malarum’, acted by Rajnikanth (who became Super Star Rajni) directed by J.Mahendran – 1978- as cinematographer and screen play writer
  • Azhiyadah Kolangal-1979-Directed by Balu Mahendra
  • ‘Sankarabaranam’, directed by K. Vishwanath as the cinematographer
  • ‘Moodu Pani’ – 1980 – Directed by Balu Mahendra
  • ‘Moondraam Pirai’-1982- with Kamal Hassan and Sridevi- became a ‘Block-buster’ running 300+ days in theatres and fetched 2 National Awards- The Best Actor Award to Kamal Hassan and the Best Cinematographer award to Balu Mahendra and also the Film Fare Award for the best director in Tamil
  • ‘Olangal’ in Malayalam-1982 – Won Film fare Award for the best Direction in Malayalam
  • ‘Sadma’-1983 the Tamil movie ‘Moondram Pirai’ remade  in Hindi- with Kamal Hassan and Sridevi
  • ‘Neengal Kettavai’-1984- Tamil commercial film
  • ‘Rettai Vaal Kuruvi’ -1987- Tamil Comedy Film
  • ‘Veedu’-1988-Tamil
  • ‘Sandhya Raagam’-1989- Tamil
  • ‘Vanna Vanna Pookkal’- 1992-Tamil, produced by S.Dhanu- run for 100 days and won the ‘Best Regional Film’ Award at the 39th National Film Awards
  •  Marupadiyum- 1993-Tamil
  • ‘Sathi Leelavathi’-1995-Tamil-produced by Kamal Hassan
  • ‘Aur Ek Prem Kahani’- 1996- A remake of his Kannada movie ‘Kokila’ in Hindi
  • ‘Raman Abdullah’- Tamil-1997- A remake of his Malayalam movie ‘Malappuram Haji Mahanaya Joji’ -1994 
  • From 1997 to 2002 Balu Mahendra made the ‘Television Series’ – “Kathai Neram”-based on different short stories, mostly of ‘Sujatha’-Rengarajan 
  • ‘Julie Ganapathi-Tamil – 2003
  • ‘Adhu oru Kanaa Kaalam’- Tamil-2005 – Starring Dhanush and Priyamani
  • Balu Mahendra started in the year 2007, a Film Institute named “Cinema Pattarai”, offering courses in Cinematography, Direction and Acting
  • In the year 2013 Balu Mahendra  scripted, directed, edited,cinematographed and also acted for the first time in “Thalaimuraigal”-Tamil film produced by Sasikumar, a popular Tamil Actor, Director and Producer. ‘Thalaimuraigal’ won the ‘Nargis Dutt Award’ for the Best Feature Film on National Integration at the 61st National Film Awards.

The popular Tamil Films Music Director-“Isai Gnani”-Ilayaraja had been the music director of Balu Mahendra’s films, except his first 2 films.

The following are some of the notable ‘Awards’ Received by Balu Mahendra for his achivements in Cinematography and Direction:


  • Kerala State Film Award-Best Cinematography (Colour)- for Nellu/1974
  • Kerala State Film Award-Best Cinematography (black-and-white)- for Prayanam and  for Chuvanna Sandhyakkal (Black-and-white)/1975
  • National Film Awards-Best Cinematography (Black-and-white) and Karnataka State Film Awards Best Screenplay-for Kokila/1977
  • Nandi Awards – Best Cinematographer for ‘Manavoori Pandavulu’/1978
  • National Film Awards – Best Cinematography (Colour)-for  ‘Moondram Pirai’ and Filmfare Awards South -Best Director Tamil and Best Director-Malayalam-for Olangal/1982
  • Nandi Awards-Best Cinematography for ‘Nireekshana’/1986
  • National Film Awards-Best Feature Film in Tamil-for ‘Veedu’/1987
  • National Film Awards-Best Film on Family Welfare-for ‘Sandhya Raagam’/1989
  • National Film Awards-Best Feature Film in Tamil-for ‘Vanna Vanna Pookkal’/1991
  • National Film Awards-Best Feature Film on National Integration-for ‘Thalaimuraigal’/2013
  • 61st Film Fare Awards South -Lifetime Achievement Award – South/2013

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