Veteran director J Mahendran, aged 79, passed away at his residence in Chennai early morning on Tuesday, April 2. The noted filmmaker was being treated for a critical illness at Chennai’s Apollo Hospital. However, he was reportedly taken home Monday night. The announcement of his death was made by his son, director John Mahendran, who simply put a picture of the ace director and gave away the sad news.

The final rites of the director are scheduled to be performed at 5:00 pm while the public homage will reportedly be held at 10:00 am today.

Apart from being known as one of the acclaimed filmmakers of the South Indian film industry, J Mahendran is also respected for shaping up actor Rajinikanth’s career. His 1998 directed film Mullum Malarum is considered as a milestone in the actor’s career and a film that eventually lead to his superstardom.

Mahendran is believed to be one of the most gifted filmmakers to the Tamil film industry. Several filmmakers today credit him for inspiring them to make films. During one of his earlier interviews, he had mentioned that he ventured into filmmaking out of anger towards the Tamil film industry. He said he wanted to make sensible films because the industry wasn’t producing any that can be considered even close to reality.

Mahendran’s entry into the industry appears like a film scene itself. He was giving a speech at his college function when actor and politician MGR spotted him criticising Tamil films for their commercial elements. Later, while working as a journalist, he met MGR again and was asked to write a screenplay for his film. That film was never made, however, he got recommended to other directors by MGR as an assistant.

J Mahendran was also seen performing a role in Rajinikanth’s Kabali and Vijay’s Theri in last few years. May his soul rest in peace!