Tamil novelist Balakumaran died in Chennai on Tuesday following a brief illness, PTI reported. He was 71. He was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2012 and underwent two coronary bypass operations.

Balakumaran started his literary career writing poetry, but focused on prose later. He was known for his novels such as Mercury Pookal and Irumbu Kuthiraigal. He also published a number of short stories and wrote the scripts for iconic films including Baasha, which starred Rajinkanth, and Kamal Haasan’s movies Nayagan and Guna. In 2016, he told The Hindu that he only worked in the film industry for the money.

Balakumaran also contributed to important Tamil periodicals including Kalki, Ananda Vikatan and Kumudam, The News Minute reported.

In his condolence message, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami hailed Balakumaran’s rich contribution to Tamil literature. “The passing away of the affable Balakumaran is a big loss for the Tamil literary world,” Palaniswami said. In January, Palaniswami honoured him with the Thamizhthendran Thiru. Vi. Ka Award.