Veteran director K. Balachander, who was known in the South Indian film circles as ‘Iyakkunar Sigaram’ (a peak among directors), breathed his last on Tuesday evening, leaving behind a rich legacy of not just film and television work but a long list of technicians and actors he introduced in a career spanning nearly five decades.

The two biggest stars of the Indian film industry — Kamal Hassan and Rajinikanth — are among those whom he mentored.

The 84-year-old, who was suffering from age-related ailments and admitted to a private hospital here last week.

He has launched more than 65 actors, actresses and technicians in the Tamil film industry.

His blockbuster movies include 'Aval Oru Thodarkathai', (Tamil) which was remade as 'Anthulaney Katha' in Telugu, 'Maro Charitra' (Telugu), 'Ek Dhuje Ke Liye' (Hindi), and 'Thillu Mullu' (remake of Golmaal in Hindi).

He introduced several top stars including Rajinikanth ('Aboorva Ragangal'), Kamal Haasan ('Arangetram'), ace villain actor Prakash Raj ('Duet'), comedian Vivek ('Manadhil Urudhi Vendum') and character artist Nazar ('Kalyana Agathigal').

He has received several accolades including Dadasaheb Phalke award (2010), Padma Shri (1987), Kalaimamani Award (Tamil Nadu) Nandi and Golden Nandi (Andhra Pradesh) besides many film awards like Filmfare among others.