23 May 1945
|Died||23 January 1991 (aged 45)|
|Years active||1975 – 1991|
P. Padmarajan (23 May 1945 – 23 January 1991) was an Indian film maker, screenwriter and author who was known for his works in Malayalam literature and Malayalam cinema. He was the founder of a new school of film making in Malayalam cinema, along with Bharathan and K. G. George, in the 1980s, which created films that were widely received while also being critically acclaimed.
Padmarajan was known for his detailed screenwriting and expressive direction style and made some of the landmark motion pictures in Malayalam cinema. He won the Kerala Sahithya Academy Award in 1972 for his novel Nakshathrangale Kaval. Padmarajan made his directorial debut in 1979 with Peruvazhiyambalam which won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Malayalam. He won his second National Award in 1986 with Thinkalaazhcha Nalla Divasam. Padmarajan had won six Kerala State Film Awards which includes two awards for Best Story in 1978, 1979 and two awards for Best Screenplay in 1984 and 1986. He has written screenplay for thirty seven movies among which eighteen he directed. The screenplay for all the movies he directed were written by Padmarajan himself. Njan Gandharvan was his last movie and within a week of its release, he died at Kozhikode due to sudden cardiac arrest.
Padmarajan was born on 23 May 1945 in Muthukulam near Haripad in Alappuzha, which was then under the princely state of Travancore. He was the sixth son of Thundathil Anantha Padmanabha Pillai and Njavarakkal Devaki Amma. After early schooling at Muthukulam, he studied at Mahatma Gandhi College, Thiruvananthapuram and University College, Thiruvananthapuram, graduating with a B.Sc. in chemistry (1963). Subsequently, he learned Sanskrit from the scholar Cheppad Achyutha Warrier at Muthukulam. He then joined All India Radio, Trichur (1965), starting as a programme announcer, and later settled at Poojappura, Trivandrum(1968); he would remain at All India Radio until 1986 when his involvement in films prompted him to retire voluntarily.
Career as screenwriter and director
Padmarajan's stories mainly deal with deceit, murder, romance, mystery, passion, jealousy, libertinism, anarchism, individualism, social structure, human psychology and life of peripheral elements of society. Some of them are considered among the best in Malayalam literature. The screenplay for all the movies he directed were written by Padmarajan himself. His first novel published in 1971 titled Nakshathrangale Kaaval (The Stars Alone Guard Me) won the Kerala Sahithya Academy award (1972).
He entered the world of Malayalam cinema by writing the screenplay for Prayanam (1975) which was Bharathan's directorial debut and had the cinematography by Balu Mahendra. Rappadikalude Gatha (1978) was his third movie as a screenwriter which won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Story in 1978. His next work as a screenwriter was the classic erotic film Rathinirvedam (1978) which is regarded as a landmark in Indian film history.
After writing screenplay for three more films, Padmarajan made his directional debut in 1979 with Peruvazhiyambalam (The Halfway House). It won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Malayalam and was included in IBN Live's list of 100 greatest Indian films of all time. His next directed Oridathoru Phayalvaan (There Lived a Wrestler) in 1981. Padmarajan also did the editing of this movie. It won the award for best script at the Kuala Lumpur International Film Festival and a gold medal at the Asian Film Festival. In 1982 he directed Novemberinte Nashtam which was critically acclaimed. Padmarajan's Koodevide? (1983) won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Film with Popular Appeal and Aesthetic Value. In 1984, he wrote the screenplay for I. V Sasi's Kanamarayathu, which won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Screenplay. In 1986 he directed Desatanakkili Karayarilla, which is one of the first Indian films that explored womance on screen. He won the second National Award with Thinkalazhcha Nalla Divasam in 1985. Padmarajan's Kariyilakkattu Pole (1986) is considered one of the classic investigative thrillers in Malayalam. The same year he directed Arappatta Kettiya Gramathil which was a failure at box office. The plot of the movie which revolves around a brothel and the sex workers in it eventually developed a cult following.
With Mohanlal in the lead role, Padmarajan directed some of the classic cult movies in Malayalam such as Namukku Parkkan Munthiri Thoppukal (1986) Thoovanathumbikal (1987) and Season (1989). Thoovanathumbikal was ranked eighth by IBN Live in its list of greatest Indian films of all time and is considered one of the best romantic movies ever made in Malayalam. Aparan (1988) is his another classic mystery psychological thriller which also marked the acting debut of Jayaram. It won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Screenplay in 1988. Moonnam Pakkam (1988) is the another classic Padmarajan movie which was critically acclaimed. His 1990 movie Innale is mainly noted for the performance of Suresh Gopi. Padmarajan's last movie Njan Gandharvan (1991) was a failure at box office. But the film later developed a cult following because of its aesthetics and storytelling. Within a week of its release, Padmarajan died at a hotel in Kozhikode. In total Padmarajan has written screenplay for 37 films among 18 of which he directed.
Association with Bharathan
Together with Bharathan and K. G. George, he successfully laid the foundation for a school of Malayalam cinema that strove to tread a middle ground by striking a fine balance. The term "Parallel film" is usually used to describe Padmarajan's style of film making. Along with Bharathan, he displayed mastery in handling sexuality on the screen, hitherto less known in Malayalam cinema.
Association with actors
He was quite adept in spotting talent, and introduced many fresh faces who would later make their mark in Indian cinema, including Jayaram(Aparan), Ashokan (Peruvazhiyambalam), Rasheed (Oridathoru Phayalvaan), Rahman (Koodevide), Ramachandran (Novemberinte Nashtam), Ajayan (Moonnam Pakkam). Also artists like Nitish Bharadwaj (Njan Gandharvan), Suhasini (Koodevide); Shari (Namukku Parkkan Munthirithoppukal) were introduced to Malayalam screen by him.
He coaxed sparkling and inspired performances from many actors, such as Bharath Gopi, Mammootty, Mohanlal, Jayaram,Shobana, Sumalatha, Karamana Janardanan Nair, Rahman, Jagathy Sreekumar, Suresh Gopi, Thilakan, Nedumudi Venu and Ashokan; indeed, Thilakan's rendition in Moonnam Pakkam is considered one of the best performance in his career. His association with Mohanlal was well noted especially because their films broke the conventional concepts prevailing during that time. He also aided in establishing, to a fair degree, the fame of other directors such as Bharathan, I. V. Sasi, and Mohan, through his association with them. His collaboration with Bharathan as a scriptwriter is considered to have produced remarkable works in Malayalam cinema. His assistants who went on to direct films independently include Thoppil Ajayan (Perumthachan), Suresh Unnithan's (Jaathakam, Raadhaamaadhavam), and Blessy's (Kaazhcha, Thanmaathra, the latter adapted from Padmarajan's short story Orma.
Padmarajan is celebrated for his unparalleled attention to detail in his screenplays. Most of his films portrayed human relationships and emotions. Many of his films have haunting climaxes, most of them not commonly portrayed in Malayalam movies. His characters are portrayed with sensitivity and intensity on the screen. The landscape is also the major part of the Padmarajan's craft in film making. His thesis were well crafted in his films. Padmarajan’s films explore the features of the landscape naturally.
Padmarajan's screenplays had such hitherto-unheard of features and subjects – such as casting rain as a character in Thoovanathumbikal (Dragonflies in the drizzle), homosexual love in Desatanakkili Karayarilla (Migratory Birds Don't Cry), unusual climax (by traditional standards) in Namukku Parkkan Munthiri Thoppukal (Vineyards for us to dwell) and Oridathoru Phayalvaan (There Lived a Wrestler). Forbidden love and characters that strive to rise above the limitations of middle-class Malayali society of the seventies and eighties is a recurring theme in many of his works. Many of his films bear the mark of his romanticism.
Padmarajan's wife Radhalakshmi is from Chittur in Palakkad. Radhalakshmi was his colleague at AIR before their marriage in 1970. Radhalakshmi has written her reminiscences about him in her book Padmarajan Entaey Gandharvan (Padmarajan, my celestial lover). Their son, P. Ananthapadmanabhan, is a writer.
Padmarajan died suddenly at Hotel Paramount Towers in Calicut in the early hours of 24 January 1991, while he was visiting a cinema playing his last film Njan Gandharvan. The cause of death was a massive cardiac arrest.
- Itha Ivide Vare
- Kallan Pavithran
- Manju Kaalam Notta Kuthira
- Nakshathrangale Kaaval
- Nanmakalude Sooryan
- Prathimayum Rajakumariyum
- Rithubhedhangalude Paarithoshikam
- Shavavahanangalum Thedi
- Udakappola (Thoovanathumbikal)
- Vadakakku Oru Hridayam
- Aparan ( Aparan)
- Avalude Katha
- Kariyilakkattu Pole (Kariyilakkattu Pole)
- Kaivariyude Thekkeyattam
- Kazhinja Vasantha Kalathil
- Mattullavarude Venal
- Onnu Randu Moonnu
- Syphilisinte Nadakkavu
- Oru Sthree Oru Purushan
- Nisha Shalabham
- Banyan Avenue
- Oru Sameepakaala Durantham
- Ningalude Thaavalangal Ningalkk
- Raanimaarude Kudumbam
- Ore Chandranmaar''
- 1972: Novel – Nakshathrangale Kaval
- 1979: Best Feature Film in Malayalam – Peruvazhiyambalam
- 1986: Best Feature Film in Malayalam – Thinkalaazhcha Nalla Divasam
- 1978: Best Story – Rappadikalude Gatha
- 1979: Second Best Film – Peruvazhiyambalam
- 1979: Best Story – Peruvazhiyambalam
- 1983: Best Film with Popular Appeal and Aesthetic Value – Koodevide
- 1984: Best Screenplay – Kanamarayathu
- 1988: Best Screenplay – Aparan
- Kerala Film Critics' Awards
- 1977: Best Screenplay – Itha Ivide Vare
- 1982: Best Film – Novemberinte Nashtam
- 1983: Best Screenplay -Koodevide
- 1984: Best Screenplay – Kanamarayathu
- 1986: Best Screenplay – Namukku Parkkan Munthiri Thoppukal, Nombarathi Poovu
- 1988: Best Screenplay – Aparan, Moonnam Pakkam
- 1990: Best Screenplay – Innale
- Film Fans' Awards
- 1975: Best Screenplay – Prayaanam
- 1977: Best Screenplay – Itha Ivide Vare
- 1978: Best Screenplay – Rappadikalude Gatha, Rathinirvedam
- 1980: Best Screenplay – Thakara
- Other awards
- 1982: Kualalumpur Film Festival – Best Film – Oridathoru Phayalvaan
- 1982: Kualalumpur Film Festival – Best Script – Oridathoru Phayalvaan
- 1982: Gulf Award for Best Film – Novemberinte Nashtam
- 1983: Pournami Award for Best Director – Koodevide
- 1987: Film Chamber Award for Best Story – Thoovanathumbikal
- 1988: Film Fare Award for Best Director – Aparan
- 1990: Film Chamber Award for Best Story – Innale
- 1991: FAC award – Njan Gandharvan
Padmarajan Puraskaram or Padmarajan Award is an annual film/literary award instituted by the Padmarajan Memorial Trust. It carries a plaque and a cash award of ₹ 10,000. The award is given in two categories:
- Padmarajan Award for Best Short Story
- Padmarajan Award for Best Film
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- "'അറം' അങ്ങനെ കരിയിലക്കാറ്റ് പോലെ'യായി; അന്ധവിശ്വാസങ്ങളുടെ ഫലമായി പേര് മാറ്റിയ അറിയാക്കഥ". Mathrubhumi. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
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- "'Kireedom' to 'Akashadoothu': Ten Malayalam tragedies that dried up my tears". The News Minute. 24 February 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
- "Looking At Padmarajan's Innale, And His Remarkable Oeuvre". Film Companion. 29 November 2020. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
- "Love and sensuality in 'Njan Gandharvan': Revisiting Padmarajan's last film". The News Minute. 11 July 2020. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
- "പത്മരാജന്റെ പ്രണയം ശരീരത്തെ മറികടക്കുമ്പോള് ഭരതന്റെ പ്രണയം ശരീരത്തെ വീണ്ടെടുക്കുന്നു". Asianet News Network Pvt Ltd (in Malayalam). Retrieved 6 July 2021.
- Kumar, KP Nijeesh. "Padmarajan's demise made me to exit from mollywood, says 'Njan Gandharvan' actor". Mathrubhumi. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
- "Remembering mastero filmmaker Padmarajan with his popular love stories - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
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- "Gone too soon: Mollywood filmmakers who died before their time". OnManorama. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
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- "30 years after Padmarajan's death, wife Radha speaks on the beautiful life they shared". The News Minute. 28 January 2021. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
- "Kerala State Film Awards". Public Relations Department, Government of Kerala. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
- Padmarajan Puraskaram for writer Paul Zachariah. The Hindu. April 4, 2010. Retrieved July 15, 2015.