A science graduate of Annamalai University, K. Balachander while working in the Accountant General's Office as a Superintendent in the 1960s, came to prominence as an amateur playwright with his dynamic plays like Major Chandrakanth, Server Sundaram, Neerkumizhi, Mezhuguvarthi, and Navagraham. The plays, which were produced and directed by him, were an instant success and enjoyed both popular and critical acclaim.
He entered the film industry in 1965 and shot into fame with his very first film Neerkumizhi. Since then he has been a prolific film maker and written and directed film in many languages: Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi. The Hindi film Ek Duje Ke Liye, written and directed by him in 1981, proved to be a trendsetter and became a source of inspiration to film makers all over India in scripting a love story.
Though working in mainstream commercial cinema, his films are uncompromisingly unique, thought provoking and varied in structure; often dealing with subjects of socio-political relevance. He has been a staunch advocate of the cause of women in Indian Society and their upliftment. The problems of middle-class milieu have often come under his microscopic inspection. He has argued against the evils of drinking and propounded the cause of selfless service to society. He has always been a film believer that films should convey a message in some form or other.
He has written, directed and produced more than 100 films and these have provided numerous opportunities for technicians such as cinematographers, music directors, and play-back singers to demonstrate their talent in full measure and win awards at the state as well as National Levels. He has the uncanny knack of spotting talent. He has been responsible for bringing into limelight and molding many stars of the present day. In his career, his contribution to the Tamil film industry is marked by the introduction of more than 65 actors, actresses and technicians. Notable names include Kamal Hassan, Rajinikanth, Prakash Raj, Vivek and A. R. Rahman.
Undaunted by the entry of so many new filmmakers and directors, K. Balachander has stood the test of time by continuing to make films and prove his mettle for almost five decades. With varied choice of subjects and innovative approaches, he is a constant source of inspiration for emerging new directors. It would be no exaggeration to state that K. Balachander is to upcoming directors what Shri Sivaji Ganesan is to budding artists.
His courage of conviction in his subject and his ability to get the best out of people explains the phenomenal success of his films both in artistic as well as in commercial terms. The last few years, he has also turned his attention to the small screen and has brought to it the same perfection and intensity that he exhibited on the large screen.
His first Television serial Rail Sneham telecast in 1990 on Doordarshan is still remembered as a trend setter and his Kai Alavu Manasu is reputed to have made a Channel. He introduced the very concept of 'Mega Serials' with Raghu Vamsam on SUN TV and showed the way to the youth how even Mega Serial can be meaningful and taut with Anni and Sahana, both on Jaya TV. His films, his characters and his narrative style have become a matter of study for Doctorate students around the globe.