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Best films directed by K. Balachander

Updated on December 27, 2014
Director K. Balachander
Director K. Balachander

Quick facts

  • Full Name: Kailasam Balachander
  • Born: 9 July 1930, Nannilam, India.
  • Died: 23 December 2014
  • Years active: 1964–2014
  • Spouse: Rajam

A true legend, veteran and auteur of Tamil cinema, K. Balachander has made it almost impossible for anyone to be in Tamil cinema and not be influenced by him. He introduced so many artists and stars like Nagesh, Kamal Hassan, Rajinikanth, etc and influenced, appreciated and gave opportunity to so many directors.

He has not only captured the imaginations of the audience but has influenced the audience through his powerful and revolutionary thoughts. K. Balachander is an important reason for the growth of Tamil Cinema, if not for Indian cinema.



There could be no other person in film industry who had such a long and successful career as K.Balachander. 1950 is when he entered into theatre in Madras (now Chennai). Dheiva Thaai marked his entrance into Cinema as a writer in 1964. Since then, he has written, directed and produced successful films till his death. Though, Poi is his last film as a director in 2006, he continued as an actor in 3 other films after that. Uthama Villain is his last film as an actor which is to be released in 2015.

There has not been a year between 1965 to 1994 that he has not directed at least one film. Between 1994 and 2006, he has either directed / produced at least one film a year. His career peaked in 1981 when he directed 9 films (4 in Tamil, 4 in Telugu and 1 in Hindi)

K. Balachander with Kamal Hassan and Rajinikanth
K. Balachander with Kamal Hassan and Rajinikanth

As a director, he made,

  • 53 Tamil, 15 Telugu, 5 Hindi and 5 Kannada movies

He is the writer for all his films. However, he has written for films by other directors which includes,

  • 6 Telugu, 5 Tamil, 5 Hindi and 3 Malayalam movies.

As a Producer, under his banner Kavithalayaa Productions, he made,

  • 51 Tamil, 4 Kannada and 1 Malayalam movies.

Out of the 56 films he produced, 13 films are directed by himself

Apart from films, he has made his mark in Television as well which is for some other time. Following is a list of finest films directed by him and their themes.

K. Balachander best films
K. Balachander best films

Neerkumizhi 1965

This marks the debutant film of K.Balachander as a director.

This film is about an orphan who is a patient in a hospital who unites two lovers. The lovers being the young doctor who is a daughter of senior most doctor in the hospital and a football player who is a patient in the hospital for his terminal illness.

Major Chandrakanth 1966

The was based on his own play with the same name. Sundarrajan played the titular character who acquired the prefix Major and was more commonly known as Major Sundarrajan thereafter.

This film is about the interaction between a murderer and a virtuous Major. Mohan kills his sister's betrayer after his sister commits suicide. He hides in a retired and a blind Major's house to escape from the cops. Mohan is inspired by the virtues of the Major. It later turns out that the betrayer is Major's younger son and Major's elder son is a police who arrests both of them.

Bama Vijayam 1967

This is a satirical story of a joint family narrated with humour.

A father, three married sons and a daughter make up a joint family. The efficient father plans in such a way that the three sons live in three different portions of the house and he takes turns when it comes to eating to avoid any conflicts. The finances and the discipline of the entire family is dealt by the father. One fine day, a film heroine moves to a nearby bungalow. All the three sons and their wives want to impress the heroine and invite her. After this, in a series of comical events, the three families with great difficulty show off their borrowed stuff to the heroine who is very simple and polite.

Iru Kodugal 1969

This is a film about one man married to two women. This is the first Balachander's film to win National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil. This film was later remade in Kannada (Eradu Rekhegalu), Telugu (Collector Janaki) and Hindi (Sanjog).

Gopinath falls in love with Janaki marries and leaves her as his father doesn't approve the marriage. When Janaki's father realises that she is pregnant, he makes her a collector. Gopinath later marries Jaya and while working in collector's office comes across Janaki. When Jaya knows their affair, both Jaya's and Janaki's sons are admitted in hospital when Jaya's son dies and Janaki's son survives. Janaki accepting Jaya as her sister presents her son to her survived son to Jaya who leaves abroad leaving Gopinath with Janaki.

K. Balachander best films
K. Balachander best films

Arangetram 1973

This is a story of a woman from a poor brahmin family who is forced into prostitution to support her family. This film is a debut for Kamal Haasan in an Adult role.

A woman takes up prostitution to support her family of eight brothers. While she manages to get all her brothers settle down, her family ditches her when they come to know about her job. Eventually, after marrying a guy who she rejected once she goes insane.

Aval Oru Thodar Kathai 1974

This remains to be K.Balachander's finest among finest work. This is a film about middle class woman who sacrifices everything for her family while her family doesn't recognize that. This film is more about plot and characters than story.

Kavita manages a middle class family in which the father has become a saint to escape responsibilities, one sister is widowed, one sister is unmarried, one younger brother is blind, one elder brother who is married is a drunkard and her sentimental mother. She has a boyfriend who she sacrifices for her widowed sister. Her neighbour who is in love with the widowed sister with a broken heart marries the widowed sister's friend. Towards the end, when Kavita is about to set her life with her boss, the family responsibility again falls on her shoulders and she will never be able to escape.

Naan Avanillai 1974

This is a remake of Marathi language play To Mee Navhech (1962).

This is a story of a man who travels from place to place and marries many women and ditches them. In this film three women are his victims and they way he presents himself is the rest of the film.

Apoorva Raagangal 1975

The plot of this film is loosely based on a American film 40 Carats (1973). This is an interesting story of a guy falling in love with an elderly woman and his father falling in love with the woman's daughter. This film also marks superstar Rajinikanth's debut.

Prasanna falls in love with Bhairavi who is a classical singer and nurse. In the meantime, Prasanna's father developes a relationship with the young Ranjini who is Bhairavi's daughter. Both relationships are questioned when Bhairavi's long lost husband who is the father of Ranjini comes back.

Avargal 1977

This film deals with women's liberation. This is a story about a woman who is struck between a man who she loves and her former sadistic husband.

Anu moves away from her lover Bharani as a result of her father's transfer after which Bharani doesn't respond to her letters. Confused, she marries her father's colleague, Ramanathan when her father is ill eventually to realise that he is a sadist. She seeks divorce and moves to a different city where she finds a good friend Janardhan. Bharani's mother as a return to her son's deed works as a maid for Anu. In the twist of events, Ramanathan becomes her boss and she realises Bharani is still waiting for her and the letters did not reach him. Eventually, she is struck between her ex-love, ex-husband and a silent lover.

K. Balachander best films
K. Balachander best films

Maro Charithra 1978 / Ek Duuje Ke Liye 1981

This is a romantic tragedy dealing with cross-cultural relationship. Maro Charithra was later remade in hindi as Ek Dujje Ke Liye. Both films were listed in CNN-IBN's 100 greatest Indian films of all time in 2013.

A Tamil family and Telugu / Hindi family are neighbours who keep having petty fights. The Tamil boy arrives from city and falls in love with the Telugu / Hindi girl. As a test of their love, their families want them to stay away from each other for a one full year which results in a tragic end.

Varumayin Niram Sivappu 1980

This is a classic film of K. Balachander which deals with a virtuous young man dealing with unemployment. This was remade in Telugu (Aakali Rajyam) and Hindi (Zara Si Zindagi)

A virtuous young man challenges his father and comes to Delhi in search of a job and joined by three roommates. He doesn't give up his principles just to find a job. He lives in hunger and misery while falling in love with his neighbour but doesn't give up his principles. His principles even cause friction in his love life. Unable to find a job and unable to give up his principles, he eventually settles down as a barber along with his love in a small caravan.

Thillu Mullu 1981

The is a remake of Hindi comedy film Gol Maal (1979). This film also broke the type cast image Rajinikanth was having till then.

Aiyampettai Arivudainambi Kaliyaperumal Chandran is a young playful guy who changes his attire and behaviour for a job. He acts as a good, well behaved, virtuous man in front of his boss. But, his boss sees the playful side of him one day in football stadium accidentally forcing Chandran to lie that he has a brother. Rest of the film is about how he manages with this lie.

Thaneer Thaneer 1981

This film deals with water scarcity and political corruption. This film received high critical acclaim and received two national awards.

A remote village faces severe water shortages and the adopt all possible means to get attention from authorities which goes in vain due to political bureaucracy. A murderer of a local landlord eventually turns the attention he got for the murder into a scheme to transport water to the village.

Sindhu Bhairavi 1985

This film is a blockbuster and won three National Awards.

J. K. Balaganapathi (JKB) is a renowned carnatic singer whose wife Bhairavi is very conservative and doesn't show any interest towards his music. In the meantime, he meets Sindhu who becomes an intimate companion with her tremendous music knowledge. He internally struggles with the relationship with both the ladies. One day Sindhu is forced to quit being his companion. Unable to bear this, at the peak of his career he loses his sanity and gets addicted to alcohol. Rest of the film is how he regains his sanity and gets his career on track.

Punnagai Mannan
Punnagai Mannan

Punnagai Mannan 1986

This is Kamal Hassan's 25th film with K. Balachander. This film is an example of how Balachander can adopt to latest technology.

A dance master and his lover decides to commit suicide and her parents doesn't approve their love. In an accident, he is struck on a tree and doesn't die. He comes back and becomes an angry dance master when he meets another girl and the rest of the film is about their love story. On another track, dance master's uncles love track also goes. Both the dance master and his uncle is played by Kamal Hassan and the uncle character imitates Charlie Chaplin which remains to be a highlight of the film.

These 15 films are only an example of his legendary work. His legend lives forever and may his soul rest in peace.

If you like this article, find any films missing or if you have any suggestions, please comment below.


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