Producer S Sriram of Aalayam Productions passed away in Chennai on Wednesday. He was in his mid-60s.
Sriram had a mild heart attack four days ago and was undergoing treatment at Apollo Hospital in Chennai. He passed away on Wednesday morning and is survived by his wife Nalini Sriram, a well-known costume designer, and son Nikhil Sriram.
Sriram and Mani Ratnam had together started Aalayam Productions. The two of them were friends. In Baradwaj Rangan's book Conversations with Mani Ratnam, the director says that Aalayam started out with films like K Subash's Chatriyan (1990), starring Vijayakant. The film is still considered to be among the best thrillers to come out of Tamil cinema. Mani Ratnam's Thiruda Thiruda was also made under the same banner. The two of them made a few more films together, including the blockbuster Bombay, before parting ways. Mani Ratnam then founded Madras Talkies and made his first film Iruvar (1997) by himself.
Speaking about Bombay in an interview, Sriram had said that he hoped the film would make it easier for future filmmakers to make films on religious riots without leading to controversy. At the time, the film had run into trouble with the CBFC, which Sriram had said was due to "misinformation".
Bombay went on to become one of the highest-grossing films from the Tamil industry and was also screened at many international film festivals. Despite the controversies surrounding its release, it became a hit, thanks to the love story at its heart (Aravind Swamy and Manisha Koirala) and AR Rahman's critically acclaimed music. In 2005, a book on the film by Lalitha Gopalan was released as part of BFI Modern Classics, and it studied the film's production, the issues its covered and its reception. It was ranked among the top 20 Indian films in the British Film Institute's ranking.
Sriram continued to produce films under the Aalayam banner. The last big budget film produced by the company was Samurai, starring Vikram in the lead. Other well-known films to come out from Aalayam include Dasarathan, which had Sarathkumar and Heera in the lead.