On Tuesday Tamil film industry and fans woke up to the sad news of veteran screenwriter-director J Mahendran’s demise. He was 79. He made his debut as a story writer with Naam Moovar in 1966 and continued writing several iconic films like Panakkara Pillai, Nirai Kudam, Thirudi and Avalukku Aayiram Kangal among others.In 1978, J Mahendran made his directorial debut with Mullum Malarum, which remains one of Rajinikanth’s best performances to date. Rajinikanth himself credited Mahendran with laying the foundation for his brand of onscreen style. The actor-director duo also delivered hits like Kaali (1980) and Johnny (1980).