AC Tirulokchandar, award-winning director with over 60 films in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi to his credit, died in Chennai today. He was 86. Thirulokchander (sometimes referred to as AC Thirulogachander) started his career as a writer before moving on to film direction. His first film as director was the Anandhan starrer Veera Thirumagan (1962). Deiva Magan followed soon after. His last movie as director in a storied career was the 1987 Sivaji Ganesan starrer Anbulla Appa.
Tirulokchandar was born into a wealthy family from Arcot and did his schooling in Madras. After finishing his MA in Political Science and Economics at Pachaiyappa’s College in (then) Madras when he was only 19, he had to wait till he turned 21 before he could appear for the Indian Administrative Services Exam. During the break, his friend Rajagopal introduced Tirulokchandar to his father, the legendary movie director and producer Padmanabhan. Tirulokchandar was a regular contributor to the college magazine, and impressed by his writing, Padmanabhan asked Tirulokchandar to join him for story discussions.
This led to Tirulokchandar working for Padmanabhan as an assistant director on the sets of the 1952’s folklore based Kumari starring MG Ramachandran. He was credited as ACT Chander, M.A. He set aside his plans of appearing for the Indian Administrative Services Exam and started assisting Padmanabhan regularly, and after his second film as assistant director, Ellam Inba Mayam, Tirulokchandar joined Jupiter Pictures as a permanent assistant director.
In a 2014 interview to the Tamil daily Maalaimalar, Tirulokchandar said that his parents were reluctant about him working on movies, but he had always wanted to write, direct and act in movies. “My dad was worried that movies would ‘spoil’ me, so he made me promise that I would never act. So I only wrote and directed films.”
In 1960, actor Asokan referred Tirulokchandar to producer AVM Saravanan. After listening to two scripts, Saravanan agreed to produce one under Tirulokchandar’s direction. The movie – Veera Thirumagan – with Anandhan and debutante Sachu in the lead was a big hit at the box office. Later, Saravanan would produce the other script with Bhim Singh directing; the superhit Paarthal Pasi Theerum.
Tirulokchandar was a prolific director, writing and directing as many as 65 films in a storied career. He worked in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi; sometimes remaking his own scripts in multiple languages. His movies were emotional entertainers that blended a signature mix of family drama, romance and comedy. His formula worked especially well with the Sivaji Ganesan, and the two of them worked on nearly 25 films together. His only movie as director with MG Ramachandran was Anbe Vaa, a romantic comedy loosely based on Come September.
He won 2 National awards and 2 State awards, and his film Deiva Magan was the first South Indian movie to be submitted by India for the Oscars. Tirulokchandar introduced stars like Sivakumar and Sachu to films.
The end came today at around 3:00 PM at a private hospital. A press release from the family said that the cause of death was age-related complications. The funeral is expected to be on Thursday.
With contributions from Priya Saravana and the Silverscreen Editorial Team.
Credit(s): Randor Guy, MaalaiMalar’s Cine Varalaru column
Photo Credit: Unknown, sourced from PR press releases