Balan Palanisamy, the veteran executive behind Southeast Asia distribution powerhouse Suraya Filem, passed away after a battle with Covid-19, according to several people who worked with him.
Since his company, Suraya Filem, was founded in 1983, the 64-year-old has been a regular at film festivals such as AFM, Mifed, Filmart, and Cannes. His firm has worked in Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Cambodia, and other countries.
The company released many movies every year, along with major Asian films such as ‘Bad Genius’ from Thailand, the Tamil title ‘Aranmanai’ and the Indonesian films ‘Ratu ilmu hitam’ and “Pengabdi setan,’ with notable recent titles from U.S. studios such as ‘A Long Walk to Liberty’ and ‘Knives Out’ and the upcoming ‘Spiral.’
In Malaysia, Palanisamy has recorded gross titles from Thailand (Bad Genie), Indonesia (The Satan’s Slave), and Russia according to distributor Yow Kong Tung, head of Malaysian film equipment Golden Screen Cinema (The Spirit Of Evil).
“These three titles created cinematic history at the Malaysian box office,” said Yow Kong Tung, who worked with Palanisamy for more than 15 years, releasing a variety of the titles he acquired in Malaysian cinemas.
Extended memorials were paid to the much-loved Palanisamy, known for his love of golf and eating seafood.
Sasha Manning, CM Holdings:
“It was truly an honor to work with and learn from Mr. Balan. Not only was he fantastic at his job, but also extremely sincere and caring to all those who were in his life. I will deeply miss not having him at the end of the phone to give me his opinion, wisdom, and hear about his latest round of golf, an activity he thoroughly enjoyed.”
Jeffrey Greenstein, Millennium Media:
“Balan was a serious man, who always had a smile on his face and yet, never took life too seriously. He’ll be missed.”
Deedee Pholthaweechai, GDH 559:
“I’ve known Mr. Balan for over 16 years, and I am so grateful to have known him. He will forever be remembered as the intelligent, fun, and kindest person I knew. I am still saddened to think that I won’t have an opportunity to see him again. He was a friend to us all, and we will miss him dearly. Thank you for everything you have done for the film industry, thank you for your friendship, thank you for everything, Mr. Balan.”
Sunil Samtani, Rapi Films:
“Balan will forever be missed not only in Malaysia but everywhere. He has always been a good partner and even a better friend to me. I would always remember his fondness for good scotch and seafood which he would always enjoy on his trip to Jakarta. Gone too soon, he is always generous and a wonderful soul. His laugh is contagious and his outlook on life is always positive. Rest in peace dear friend.”
Gope Samtani, Rapi Films:
“Knew him for many years. Lovely gentleman. Loved wearing black specs. Always humorous. Used to meet him in film markets and Jakarta. Was always fun talking to him. Still cannot believe he is no more. May he rest in peace.”
Balan Palanisamy’s families and friends are deeply sorrowful and express their condolences. It was certainly unexpected and honestly, it is also a major loss for the industry.