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P. Padmarajan (23 May 1945 – 23 January 1991) was an Indian film maker, screenwriter and author who was known for his landmark work in Malayalam literature and Malayalam cinema. Padmarajan 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 groundbreaking films that were widely received while also being critically acclaimed. Known for his classic works, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest film makers of Indian Cinema of all time. He is known for the mastery in screenwriting in Malayalam Cinema.
23 May 1945
|Died||23 January 1991 (aged 45)|
|Years active||1975 – 1991|
Padmarajan was noted for his fine and detailed screenwriting and expressive direction style. Most of his movies are considered to be way ahead of its time. Padmarajan made some of the landmark motion pictures in Malayalam cinema, including critically acclaimed works like Peruvazhiyambalam(1979), Oridathoru Phayalvaan (1981), Kallan Pavithran(1981), Koodevide(1983), Thinkalaazhcha Nalla Divasam(1985), Kariyilakkattu Pole(1986), Arappatta Kettiya Gramathil(1986), Namukku Parkkan Munthiri Thoppukal(1986), Thoovanathumbikal(1987), Moonnam Pakkam(1988), Innale(1989), Season(1989) and Njan Gandharvan(1991). He wrote several short stories which were unique in content and presentation. His novels handled the darkest emotions and are considered as Classics. Most plots were nascent for that age literature. All works were so cinematic and can be easily visualized to celluloid version[clarification needed].
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 directorEdit
Padmarajan's stories 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 as among the best in Malayalam literature, 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 films by writing the screenplay for Bharathan's directorial debut and Balu Mahendra's cinematography Prayanam(1975) to take first steps to be one of the most talented scriptwriters to have ever graced Malayalam cinema.
He later began to direct films based on his screenplays, beginning with Peruvazhiyambalam (The Halfway House) (1979), which are greatly popular among the common people as well as intellectuals and film critics, while maintaining richness in artistic and thematic originality and excellence with commercial appeal. His films explore the features of the landscape naturally and easily. Padmarajan was a great experimenter who explored all walks of life in his works. His 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.
He is celebrated for his unparalleled attention to detail in his screenplays. Some of his scripts are arguably the smoothest narratives ever penned in the Malayalam language. They are also ample proof for his keen observation, acute perception, and astute portrayal of human relationships and emotions. Many of his films have stunning and haunting climaxes, most of them not commonly portrayed in Malayalam movies. His characters are portrayed with great sensitivity and intensity on the screen and many of the scenes are generously sprinkled with humour. The dialogues of characters are quite natural, in the language of the common man, and yet have a subtle lyrical quality. The landscape is also the major part of the Padmarajan's craft in film making. His thesis were well crafted in his films. He broke the distances between cinema and literature.
Indeed, a just cause may be made that his directorial merit flowed easily from his exquisitely crafted screenplays: he never directed a film based on a script written by someone else (unlike other Malayalam film directors of comparable stature, say, Bharathan and K. G. George), and rarely adapted his script from a story not his own. Consequently, he had an unusually intimate knowledge of the characters in his films in combination with his mastery of the script.
Association with BharathanEdit
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 between intellectual and commercial appeal, without sacrificing the strong points of either approach; this was accomplished by portraying brilliant stories with "next door" men and women as characters, steering clear of artificial characters, stereotypes and pedantic inclinations allegedly typical of critically acclaimed films. The term "Parallel film" is usually used to describe his style of film making. Along with Bharathan, he displayed mastery in handling sexuality on the screen, hitherto less known in Malayalam cinema.
Association with actorsEdit
He was quite adept in spotting talent, and introduced many fresh faces who would later make their mark in Indian cinema, including Ashokan (Peruvazhiyambalam), Rasheed (Oridathoru Phayalvaan), Rahman (Koodevide), Jayaram (Aparan), 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, Shobana, Sumalatha, Karamana Janardanan Nair, Rahman, Jagathy Sreekumar, Suresh Gopi, Thilakan, Nedumudi Venu and Ashokan; indeed, Thilakan's rendition in Moonnam Pakkam is one of the best performances of the thespian's 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'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 considered Moonnam Pakkam as his most favourite work.
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
- "Vineyards of passion and bloody beaches: 5 eternal Padmarajan films for movie buffs". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 11 June 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.