Bala (Tamil: பாலா; born 11 July 1966) is an Indian film director, screenwriter, and producer, working in Tamil cinema. Bala is widely acclaimed for "revolutionizing Tamil cinema" through his realistic, dark and disturbing depiction of the working class on celluloid screen. He has received several awards and recognition for his work, including the National Film Award for Best Director for his fourth feature film Naan Kadavul (2009).
Bala was born on 11 July 1966 in Narayanathevanpatty, Theni district, Tamil Nadu, India. He studied Tamil Literature at The American College in Madurai. He admitted, that, as a youngster, he was not interested in studies and had dropped in his college days and was considered by many as he won't come up in life. At certain point he determined to prove himself to the society. After a struggling period he came to Chennai and entered the film industry.
He started his film career as an assistant director to National Film Award–winning director and cinematographer Balu Mahendra. He made his directorial debut with Sethu in 1999, that gave a break to Vikram, the film's lead actor, who was also struggling in the Tamil film industry for almost a decade without a hit and recognition. More than 60 distributors saw the film and hesistated to screen it because of its tragic ending. The film was released on a low profile without any advertisement but after the first days the film started running to packed houses just through 'word of mouth'. The film was said to have initiated a 'new wave' as it received critical acclaim and became a hit. Its success led to remakes in Kannada (Huchcha), Telugu (Seshu) and Hindi (Tere Naam) languages.
"Bala is unique in many ways. The way he changed Tamil cinema's character was commendable ... There were many who tried for a change. Among the new generation of filmmakers, Bala leads the pack in bringing a change in Tamil cinema's outlook and approach."
In 2011, his fifth directorial Avan Ivan, considered his first comedy film, released, starring Vishal Krishna and Arya. While the film opened to mixed reviews by critics, the lead actors gained critical acclaim for their performances, particularly Vishal.