One of the most prominent faces of Tamil cinema, director J Mahendran breathed his last on Tuesday morning at his residence in Chennai. He was 79. He was hospitalised after brief illness. Mahendran became a prolific screenplay writer before turning to direction. His first directorial Mullum Malarum (1978) was instant hit that impact beyond the box office. The film had Rajinikanth, Sarath Babu and Sobha in lead roles.