Bharathiraja (born 17 July 1941) is an Indian film director who works mainly in the Tamil film industry. Making his debut in 1977 with 16 Vayathinile, he is known for realistic and sensitive portrayals of rural life in his films. As of 2017, he has won six National Film Awards, four Filmfare Awards South, two Tamil Nadu State Film Awards and a Nandi Award. He has also directed films in Telugu and Hindi. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Shri award, India's fourth-highest civilian honour, in 2004 for his contribution to the film industry.
17 July 1941
|Occupation||Film director, screenwriter, film producer, actor|
|Awards||Padma Shri (2004)|
Bharathiraja started his film career as an assistant to Kannada filmmaker Puttanna Kanagal. Later, he assisted P. Pullaiah, M. Krishnan Nair, Avinasi Mani and A. Jagannathan. His first film 16 Vayathinile, for which he wrote the script, broke the then existing convention to create a new genre of village cinema. The film is now regarded as a milestone in the history of Tamil Cinema. About the film, Bharathiraja said: "This movie was meant to be a black & white art film produced with the help of National Film Development Corporation", but turned out to be a commercially successful colour film and a starting point for several important careers. His next film Kizhake Pogum Rail produced similar results and eventually brought in criticisms that Bharathiraja was capable of catering only to village audiences. This led him to make Sigappu Rojakkal, about a psychopathic woman-hater that was totally westernized in terms of both conception and production.
Bharathiraja confirmed his versatility and refusal to be tied down to one particular genre with an experimental film Nizhalgal (1980), and the action thriller Tik Tik Tik (1981). But undoubtedly, rural themes proved to be his strong suit as his biggest hits in the 1980s; Alaigal Oivathillai (1981), Mann Vasanai (1983) and Muthal Mariyathai (1985) were strong love stories in a village backdrop. Muthal Mariyathai starred Sivaji Ganesan in the lead, playing a middle-aged village head. Radha is a poor young woman who moves into his village for a living. The love that bonds these two humans separated not just by age but also by caste and class, is told by Bharathiraja with poetic touches.
Vedham Pudhithu dealt with the caste issue in a stronger manner. The film's narrative was seamless and starred Sathyaraj as Balu Thevar. It contains some of Bharathiraja's trademark touches as well as several ground-breaking scenes. However, it does follow the anti-Brahmin trend common in Tamil films – in this respect it departed from his earlier success Alaigal Oiyvadhillai, where the caste and religion factor was given a more balanced treatment. Bharathiraja has successfully managed to modernise his film-making techniques for the 1990s. The commercial success of Kizhakku Cheemaiyile and the awards that Karuththamma garnered stand as testimony to his ability to thrill the younger generation as well. Bharathiraja was on the same stage in 1996 to receive another National Award for Anthimanthaarai.
In late 1996, Bharathiraja was signed on to direct two films, with the Sarathkumar-starrer Vaakkapatta Bhoomi announced in October. The following month, he began work on a film titled Siragugal Murivadhillai, with Napolean, Heera Rajgopal and Prakash Raj in the leading roles. Both films were later shelved.
During early 2016, Bharathiraja was embroiled in a legal tussle with director Bala on making a film titled Kutra Parambarai, though neither filmmaker eventually made their respective films. He later moved on to plan a film starring director Vasanth's son, Ritwik Varun, and Vikram's nephew, but did not begin shooting for the venture. In 2018, Bharathirajaa is working on a film titled November 8, Iravu 8 Mani starring Vidharth, which narrates events following the decision to demonetise certain banknotes in India.
Bharathiraja was born as Chinnasamy to parents Periyamayathevar and Karuthammal. He is married to ChandraLeela and has two children Manoj Bharathiraja and Janani. Manoj is an actor who was introduced in Tajmahal and he is married to actress Nandana. Janani is married to Malaysian Rajkumar Thambiraja. Bharathiraja's brother-in-law Manojkumar has directed films such as Mannukkul Vairam, Vandicholai Chinraasu, Vaanavil and Guru Paarvai. His brother Jayaraj made his acting debut with Kaththukkutti. His relative Stalin is a television actor who acted in serials such as Saravanan Meenatchi and 7C.
National Film AwardsEdit
- 1982 – National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu for Seethakoka Chiluka (Director)
- 1986 – National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil for Mudhal Mariyathai (Producer & Director)
- 1988 – National Film Award for Best Film on Other Social Issues Vedham Pudhithu (Director)
- 1995 – National Film Award for Best Film on Family Welfare for Karuththamma (Director)
- 1996 – National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil for Anthimanthaarai (Director)
- 2001 – National Film Award for Best Screenplay for Kadal Pookkal (Director & Writer)
Filmfare Awards SouthEdit
- 1978 – Best Tamil Director for Sigappu Rojakkal
- 1987 - Best Tamil Film for Vedham Pudhithu
- 1987 - Best Tamil Director for Vedham Pudhithu
- 1994 - Best Tamil Film for Karuthamma
Tamil Nadu State Film AwardsEdit
- 1977 – Best Director Award for 16 Vayathinile
- 1979- Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Film - Second Prize - Puthiya Vaarpugal
- 1981 – Best Director Award for Alaigal Oivathillai
- 1994 - Best Film Portraying Woman in Good Light for Karuththamma
- 2001 - Tamil Nadu State Film Honorary Award- Arignar Anna Award in 2001
- 2003 – Best Film in First place Eera Nilam
- South Indian Film Technicians : Best Technician Award for Kallukkul Eeram
- He attended the Heroes Day conference at Jaffna and appreciated its heroism and valour. Tamil Nadu Congress president Krishnasamy claimed he met the LTTE's leader Prabhakaran, accused of planning the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and who is banned in India.
- He organised a protest by Tamil Nadu artists against the Indian state of Karnataka for not releasing Cauvery water at Neyveli. During a SUN TV interview, film co-stars such as Sarath Kumar and Radhika who attended the conference accused him of using that opportunity to eulogise current Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalitha and launching attacks on Rajinikanth's homestate's ethnicity.
- In the month of June 2013, it was claimed that Bharathiraja was responsible for the death of Manivannan. Bharathiraja made harsh comments against Manivannan in a leading Tamil magazine.
- Vijayan (Niram Maaratha Pookkal)
- Thiagarajan (Alaigal Oivathillai)
- Nizhalgal Ravi (Mann Vasanai, Vedham Pudhithu)
- Manivannan (Kodi Parakuthu)
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