Veteran Tamil director and actor Manobala passes away at 69

Actor Manobala.

Veteran Tamil director and actor Manobala passes away at 69

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The actor, producer and director began his career with the 1979’s Puthiya Vaarpugal, assisting director  Bharathiraaja. 

Renowned actor-director Manobala passed away on Wednesday after suffering a liver-related ailment. He was 69. Born as Balachander, the artist-turned-filmmaker took on the name of Manobala to stand out from the more illustrious Balachanders in Tamil cinema. It was actor-filmmaker Kamal Haasan who introduced Manobala to veteran director Bharathiraja, who, in turn, took him under his tutelage.

After making his debut as an assistant director in Puthiya Vaarpugal (1979), Manobala went on to assist the ace filmmaker in films like Niram Maaraadha Pookal (1979), and Tik Tik Tik (1981). He also played cameos in these films, and with Aagaya Gangai (1982), starring Karthik and Suhasini, Manobala made his debut as a director. Over the next two decades, Manobala balanced his acting and directing careers and helmed 24 films. His last directorial venture was the 2002 Jayaram-starrer, Naina.

As a director, Manobala was known for dabbling in various genres, including horror, masala entertainers, thrillers, comedy, and romance. If his Oorkavalan, starring Rajinikanth, spoke about the bane of superstition, Pillai Nila was a solid horror thriller that finds itself in the annals of well-made Tamil horror films. A fascinating aspect of his career was how, just like his guru Bharathiraja, Manobala too worked with many writers and concentrated solely on direction.

Over his 40+ year career, Manobala worked with actors like Sivaji Ganesan, Radikaa Sarathkumar, Rajinikanth, Vijayakanth, Ambika, Sathyaraj, Mohan, Nalini, Vijay, Ajith, Karthi, Dhanush, Anushka, and Sivakarthikeyan. As his frequent collaborator and actor-filmmaker RJ Balaji told us, “Manobala was a unifying factor in the lives of many.

He was a part of everyone’s friends circle and was the reason for bringing them together. With a genuine concern for others, he kept in touch regularly.” This aspect of Manobala was seen in his interactions with the stars of various generations, becoming the go-to connection between the present and past stars.

If Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth reminisced about their long-term equation with their long-time friend, younger celebrities like Karthi, Lokesh Kanagaraj, and Jayam Ravi rued the loss of a mentor figure.

Condolences pour in from CM, politicos

Chennai: CM MK Stalin and leaders of various political parties expressed their condolences over the demise of Manobala, who passed away on Wednesday morning. Stalin said that he was shocked and pained to know about the demise of Manobala and that his demise would be an irreparable loss to the Tamil cinema industry. He also extended his condolence to his family members, cinema fraternity, fans and friends.

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