National Award Winners


National Film Awards 1978

Tamil Nadu State Film Awards 1981

Mahendran is considered by many as a maverick who made films in the most realistic manner. His scripts would toe the line of the audiences’ day-today lives and this is the most striking feature which endeared him to millions of fans. 

Mullum Malarum

Mullum Malarum  is a 1978 Indian Tamil drama film directed by J. Mahendran and produced by Venu Chettiar. The film, which features Rajinikanth, Sarath Babu, Fatafat Jayalaxmi and Shoba, marked Mahendrans directorial debut and was adapted from writer Umachandrans award-winning novel of the same name, albeit with several changes. It tells the story of Kali, a winch operator who conflicts with his superior Kumaran at a power plant, which eventually leads to the loss of his left arm and job.The production of the film was deeply troubled; Chettiar was opposed to casting Rajinikanth as the lead protagonist because of his dark skin and tendency to portray villainous characters at the time, but Mahendran refused to direct the film without Rajinikanth and after a vehement dispute between him and Chettiar ensued, the latter eventually capitulated. Mahendran had no prior experience in film directing, and cinematographer Balu Mahendra, a director himself, had significant responsibility, involving himself in all aspects of screenplay, dialogue, camera angles, casting and editing, according to Mahendrans wishes. The film was shot mostly in Sringeri, Ooty, Glenmorgan and Kundha. After Mullum Malarum was completed, Chettiar was upset that the film had less dialogue than visuals, which he did not expect from Mahendran. The soundtrack was composed by Ilaiyaraaja.Mullum Malarum was released on 15 August 1978 (Indias Independence Day) to a tepid commercial response, but positive reviews from critics and favourable word of mouth helped it to become a success. The film was a major breakthrough for Rajinikanth, whose performance as Kali received unanimous praise and is widely considered to be the best performance of his career. Mullum Malarum became a milestone in Tamil cinema in that it focused primarily on the visual medium and realism, without excessive usage of melodrama, fights, duets or dialogue. The film won the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Film and the Filmfare Award for Best Tamil Film, and Rajinikanth won the Arima Sangam Award for Best Actor, as well as a special prize for Best Actor at the Tamil Nadu State Film Awards. The success of Mullum Malarum spawned a Telugu-dubbed version Mullu Puvvu and a Malayalam remake titled Venalil Oru Mazha in 1979, as well as a Hindi remake titled Pyari Behna in 1985.

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Nenjathai Killathe is a 1980 Tamil language film written and directed by J. Mahendran. The film stars Suhasini, in her debut film appearance as the central character along with Sarath Babu, Mohan and Pratap Pothan in prominent roles. The films score and soundtrack were composed by Ilaiyaraaja while cinematography was handled by Ashok Kumar. The film won three awards each at the 28th National Film Awards and Tamil Nadu State Film Awards in 1981. The performances of Suhasini and Sarath Babu received critical acclaim.The movie was dubbed into Telugu as Mouna Geetham.


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