After four decades of being one of the most influential filmmakers behind the camera and winning multiple national awards, Balu Mahendra has, for the first time, come in front of the camera.

Mr. Mahendra will be making his acting debut in the upcoming film ‘Thalaimuraigal’ (generations), it was revealed at a media conference in the city on Sunday.

“After writing the story, and pouring my heart out for the script, I realised I suited the role of the protagonist really well,” Mr. Mahendra, said in an interview withThe Hindu

“Several people have offered me acting roles in the past. But I think it is now that I have finally achieved the mental maturity to face the camera. More importantly, I had the confidence I could portray the role,” the 74-year-old said.

The film, produced by Company Film Productions of M. Sasikumar, director of acclaimed ‘Subramaniapuram’ (2008), is set to release on December 20. Balu Mahendra, apart from writing the script, has also handled the cinematography and editing.

His first film in eight years, after 2005’s ‘Athu Oru Kanaa Kalam,’ with ‘Thalairmuraigal’, Mr. Mahendra has, for the first time in his career, tried out the digital camera, more specifically a Canon 5D DSLR, to shoot the film.

“It is time to embrace change,” the master cinematographer said.

“However, it was tough for the first few days. I felt so humble with the small camera in my hands, but after seeing the results I am sure that this is the way of the future. I wanted to shoot this initially as just a demo film for my students, but the story prompted me to take it to a larger scale,” he said.

For the creator, the tools that are used are often not important, he added. “A poet writes poems, whether it is in a book or on toilet paper or on the wall.”

The film’s producer M. Sasikumar, who has also played a small role in the film, said it was a privilege to be able to produce a film that had collaborators like Mr. Mahendra and music director Ilaiyaraja.

On the story itself, Mr. Mahendra said it was about appreciating one’s roots and more specifically, the women in everyone’s lives.

“Thalaimuraigal will talk about people from villages who go to the city, about those who leave their motherland for elsewhere,” he said. “I play the role of an old man who is fanatical about his religion, his caste and his language,” he said. “Like all creators, this film has taken a chunk out of me.”

When asked what one could expect of his collaboration with Ilaiyaraja for this film, which incidentally does not have any songs, he asked “What else can you expect from two creators who are self aware.” After a pause, he added “the same magic of course.”

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