Many refer him as, "Iyakunar Sigaram", but he is known by many other names as well.. "A Discoverer of Talent", "Path breaker", Trend setter" and what not and he wears all these hats with aplomb.He has discovered 3 Super stars, namely Rajinikath, Kamal Hassan and Chiranjeevi, among around 67 others in the film industry.He discovered the actor in Nagesh (a close friend as well) and gave him some gem of movies like "Ethir Neechal", "Server Sundaram" etc, among innumerable other characters...
To recognize the "spark" in an actor a person needs to have good "eye" for talent. The story of how Rajinikanth got selected has been narrated many times before, so i will not go into that.My thought is, at a time, when actors had a "caricatured requirement" in terms of good height, great body, fair skinned, with chiseled features, how did KB Sir feel, that a dark skinned, non Tamil speaking, average body type guy like Rajinikanth (no offense guys, me a die hard fan) will make it really big in Tamil cinema ? Also he would have had a tough time convincing the producers and distributors as well, at that time,i guess. That's his foresight.
In 1950, he moved to Chennai and joined the Accountant General's office as an apprentice clerk.Due to his interest in Theater and drams he joined the "United Amateur Artists" and then a little later he formed his own drama troupe. During his drama days he was offered the job of writing dialogues for MGR's "Deiva Thaai" and slowly he ventured into feature films. His directorial debut was "Neerkumizhi" which was an adaptation of his own play. He had a repertoire of films starting from hard - hitting films like "Neerkumizhi","Server Sundaram","Thappu Thalangal" to exploring relationships in Aboorva Ragangal", "Pudhu Pudhu Arthangal","Azhagan" to dabbling in comedy in "Bama Vijayam",Poova Thalaya", "Thillu Mullu", etc..
His movies were always far ahead of its times and he was a man renowned for not sticking to traditions and age old diktats of film making. At a time when everyone would give a hand or leg to work with MGR, he decided, that he would never go behind famous stars and wait for their dates, rather would make movies with newcomers and relied only on his script and characters and also to show strong female protagonists in his films. He sticked to these rules right until his death.Not many can boast of such a thing.He had an arrogance and his arrogance was to take Tamil cinema to Himalayan heights.
He also had the talent to identify something unique about an actor casually and then use that mannerism or characteristic of that actor in his films. Especially, he never wanted Rajinikanth to change his fast dialogue delivery, since it was unique, and used his natural walking style and cigarette flipping style as it is in his films, and improvised them into script, that's the genius of this man.
My personal favourite movies of his is "Varumayin Niram Sivappu", Thillu Mullu", "Puthu Puthu Arthangal" and "Sidhu Bairavi".In "Varumayin Niram..." he explored the unemployment and social unrest of the times and who can forget the "Apple" scene from the movie and Kamal's standout performance. In "Thillu Mullu", he discovered the natural comic timing of Rajini Sir and made a full length comedy film, which was far better than the original film ("Golmal" starring Amol Palekar and Utpal Dutt). "Thengai" Srinivasan and Sowcar Janaki along with Superstar, brought the house down with their amazing comic timings. Also no one can forget the brilliant cameo of Kamal Hassan as a advocate with a hundred juniors coming in defense of Superstar. He dazzled in that cameo. In "Puthu Puthu Arthangal" he explored marital infedility and live in relationships. One of my favourite songs "Kalyana Malai..." is from this movie. In "Sindhu Bairavi", he brings in a sympathy for all three characters of Sivakumar, his wife played by Suloksana and Sindhu, played beautifully by Suhasini. This movie had some great songs composed by Ilayaraja and performed by magnificent Yesudas Sir and Chitra.
He always had strong female protaganists in his movies, be it "Arangetram", Aval Oru Thodargathai", "Kalki", "Azhagan" "Sindhu Bairavi", etc. He might have altered his cast and crew at times, but a constant for him after MSV Sir, in music, was Ilayaraja. But due to a fallout between them, he (as a producer) bravely introduced AR Rahman after recommendation came from the film's Director, Maniratnam for "Roja", a terrorism based subject, and the rest, as they say, is history. Maniratnam said in an interview that it was only because of KB Sir that he became a Director and my humble salute to KB Sir, for this, because Maniratnam is one of my most favourite Directors.
In a recent talk show, a confidant of KB Sir informed that KB Sir, had confided in him that he always knew Rajinikanth would make it big, but never in his widest imagination had he thought of Rajinikanth in his current status of Superstardom and that he felt proud of it. He also said to the same confidant, that Kamal, would always do way better and bring a whole new dimension to an already good scene. Many consider that there are two periods as far as Directorship is concerned, one, before KB and the other, after KB.Directors were recognized a lot more, because of him and he brought an immense respectability to the job. He changed the path of Tamil cinema and many are treading the path created by him right now.
KB Sir, there is no equal to you. Your life is a legacy and the numerous awards and accolades are mere cornerstone in the long list of achievements. Thank you for making many believe that one can achieve the desired results without compromising, if we had the courage to work hard and do our job with utmost honesty and conviction. Hats off and RIP Sir....