Ranjith Balakrishnan is an Indian film director, screenwriter, producer, and actor who works in Malayalam cinema. Ranjith made his directorial debut in 2001 with Ravanaprabhu, the sequel to Devaasuram. His films Thirakkatha and Indian Rupee won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Malayalam in 2008 and 2011 respectively.[1] He is also the current chairman of Kerala State Chalachitra Academy.[2]

Ranjith Balakrishnan
Ranjith in 2022
Occupations
  • Film director
  • screenwriter
  • producer
  • actor
Years active1987–present

Career

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1987 to 1992: Early career

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Ranjith's entry into Mollywood was accidental, he was inspired by his friend, the late film producer and director Alex I. Kadavil, in whose residence he had stayed for his debut in the film industry. In 1987, he made his debut as a writer in Oru Maymasa Pulariyil, produced by Alex I. Kadavil and directed by V. R. Gopinath.[3] In 1988, Ranjith made his formal entry into the film world by writing the story for Orkkapurathu, an adventure film directed by Kamal, with Mohanlal in the lead role. The immediate success of Orkkapurathu brought Ranjith several opportunities to work in films. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Ranjith wrote scripts for several small budget films, mainly for Kamal, including Peruvannapurathe Visheshangal (1989), Pradeshika Varthakal (1989) and Pookkalam Varavayi (1991).

Another director with whom Ranjith worked during this period was Viji Thampi. This team released Witness (1988), Nanma Niranjavan Sreenivasan (1990), Nagarangalil Chennu Raparkam (1989) and Kaalalpada (1990), all with Jayaram in the lead role. In 1992, he wrote Neelagiri for I. V. Sasi, which underperformed at the box office. This was followed by Johnnie Walker, directed by Jayaraj, which was noted for its different filmmaking style and was a commercial success at the box office.[4][5]

1993 to 2000: Breakthrough

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1993 was significant in Ranjith's career: Devasuram, his film based on the life of his father-figure, Mullassery Rajagopal,[6] turned out to be a huge box office hit. With Mohanlal in the lead and directed by I.V. Sasi, Devasuram was both critically and commercially acclaimed; Mohanlal's performance was lauded and it opened a new genre of feudal stories in Malayalam cinema. Within two months of the release of Devasuram, Ranjith's next movie, Maya Mayuram (directed by Sibi Malayil and again starring Mohanlal) was released, but was not as successful. According to Ranjith, Maya Mayuram is one of his best films and its failure affected him greatly. Ranjith mentioned in an interview that several directors passed on the opportunity to make Maya Mayuram, and it was Mohanlal who convinced Sibi Malayil to get involved.[citation needed]

After writing Yadavam (directed by Jomon and starring Suresh Gopi), Ranjith worked with Shaji Kailas for Rudraksham, again starring Suresh Gopi, who was at the peak of his career. This film generated significant hype in the market as Shaji Kailas-Suresh Gopi was a hot selling team at the time, but the loose script and clichéd humorless dialogues led to Rudraksham becoming a flop. His next piece of work, Rajaputhran, directed by Shajun Karyal, again with Suresh Gopi in the lead, became a superhit.[7]

In 1997, Ranjith teamed up again with Shaji Kailas for Asuravamsham, starring Manoj K Jayan and Biju Menon; the film yielded an average commercial response. Towards the end of 1997, Ranjith penned Aaraam Thampuran, which went to become one of the biggest hits of his career. This film was also a turning point in the career of Mohanlal, and with it Ranjith gained a reputation as a commercially viable scriptwriter. Then came Kaikudanna Nilavu, in 1998, directed by Kamal, starring Jayaram, yet another average grosser. In 1998 Ranjith scripted Summer in Bethlehem, directed by Sibi Malayil, starring Suresh Gopi and Jayaram, a super hit.[8] In 1999, Ranjith and Shaji Kailas produced the film Ustaad, directed by Sibi Malayil, starring Mohanlal.[citation needed]

The year 2000 began with the release of Narasimham, directed by Shaji Kailas. With Mohanlal playing the lead role, this film became one of the biggest hits ever in the history of Malayalam cinema at the time.[9][10] Yet again in 2000, together with Director Shaji, Ranjith repeated history: his Onam release Valliettan starring Mammooty was a commercial success. This was his last script for Shaji Kailas[11] and with this film Ranjith became the most successful scriptwriter of the time.

2001 to 2009: Directorial debut and further success

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In 2001, Ranjith made his directorial debut with Ravanaprabhu, the sequel to Devasuram.[12] With Mohanlal appearing in dual roles as father and son, this film turned out to be another blockbuster.[13] The success of his directorial debut led Rashtra Deepika to name Ranjith the Man of the year.[14] In 2002 Ranjith came back with another successful film, Nandanam, starring Navya Nair and a new face, Prithviraj Sukumaran.[15] Ranjith produced this film along with his friend, actor Siddique. Nandanam, revolving around an innocent girl, her love for Lord Sri Krishna and her beau, was an entirely different and unexpected theme from Ranjith at the time. Despite the film not having a big star cast, fights, or punchy dialogues – and being shelved after some pre-production activities – it became a hit.[16]

In 2003 Ranjith directed Mizhi Randilum, starring Dileep and Kavya Madhavan, another family drama, which failed to impress the masses, but was critically acclaimed. In the same year Ranjith scripted Ammakilikood, directed by Padmakumar with Prithviraj in the lead role, which also got the cold shoulder from the public. In 2004 Ranjith teamed up with Mammooty for Black, which was a complete commercial entertainer targeting the fans of Mammootty.[17][18] Chandrolsavam, starring Mohanlal, followed in 2005.[19] Ranjith believes that it was not a bad film. He said, "Mohanlal fans expected too much. I don't think it was a bad film. Many who watched it on DVD called to say they were surprised it did not do well. Fans come in with pre-conceived notions on how the actor will be in the movie and the kind of story it will be, hence they could not grasp the poetic element in the film."[20]

In 2006, he scripted and directed Prajapathi, starring Mammootty, was also blasted by critics,[21] and was another disastrous movie.[22] His next venture was an offbeat film Kaiyoppu. Though a flop at the box office, Kaiyoppu brought critical appreciation from far corners and that compelled Ranjith to work with plots and themes without any commercial ingredients. Notably, its lead actor Mammootty received no payment to act in the film as the script impressed him so much.[23]

In 2007, Ranjith teamed up with Joshiy for the big budget film Nasrani starring Mammootty.[24][25][26][27] His next directorial feature was the musical-comedy Rock & Roll, starring Mohanlal.[28][29] In 2008 Ranjith directed Thirakkatha, based on actress Srividya's life,[30] which won the National Award for the Best Malayalam Feature Film. Starring Anoop Menon and Priyamani, the movie featured Prithviraj and Samvrutha Sunil in important supporting roles. The movie was able to bring out the best in the actors.[31][32] In 2009 Ranjith directed and wrote the script for Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathira Kolapathakathinte Katha, which was critically acclaimed.[33] Ranjith also introduced about thirty Malayalam stage artists through this film.[34] In the same year he came up with another unique creation, Kerala Cafe — a fusion of ten different short films by ten directors. The different segments in the movie were conceived and connected based on the concept of Yatra, or journey.[35]

2010 onwards

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In 2010 Ranjith wrote the story for the film Penpattanam, directed by V. M. Vinu. He then scripted and directed, Pranchiyettan and the Saint, starring Mammootty, which was also widely accepted by movie fans and the people of Kerala. It became the most popular film of the year and was also a commercial success. Pranchiyettan and the Saint is now considered one of the best comedy films in Malayalam cinema and has over the years attained a cult status. During this time, Ranjith also received a highly coveted appointment as the School Director for Cochin Media School.[36] He also appeared as judge in "Mammootty the Best Actor Award – II", an acting talent-hunt reality show aired on the television channel Asianet.[37] In 2011, Ranjith scripted and directed a critically acclaimed satirical film Indian Rupee starring Prithviraj, which was well received by the critics and also a commercial success. His next film, Spirit, primarily focused on the increasing habits of alcoholism in Kerala. Starring Mohanlal in the lead role, the film was critically acclaimed and a box office success. He then produced and scripted for G. S. Vijayan's Mammootty-starring Bavuttiyude Namathil in 2012, which was an average at the box office. His next film with Mammootty, Kadal Kadannoru Mathukkutty, underperformed at the box office.

Njaan, based on the novel K T N Kottoor: Ezhuthum Jeevithavum by T P Rajeevan and featuring Dulquer Salmaan in the lead role, was released on 19 September 2014. He also produced Munnariyippu starring Mammootty in the lead role. The film became one of the highest grossers of the year.[38] In 2015 he directed Loham, starring Mohanlal, which received mixed reactions from critics.[39]

Filmography

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Key
Denotes films that have not yet been released
List of film credits
Year Film Credited as
Director Producer Screenwriter Story Actor Role/Notes
1987 Ezhuthappurangal No No No No Yes Ramanandan
Oru Maymasa Pulariyil No No No Yes No
1988 Witness No No Yes No Yes
Orkkappurathu No No No Yes No
1989 Kaalal Pada No No No No Yes Violinist
Pradeshika Vaarthakal No No Yes No No
Peruvannapurathe Visheshangal No No Yes No No
1990 Shubhayathra No No Yes No No
Pavakkoothu No No Yes No No
Nanma Niranjavan Srinivasan No No Yes No No
Marupuram No No Yes No No
Nagarangalil Chennu Raparkam No No Yes No No
1991 Georgootty C/O Georgootty No No Yes Yes No
Pookkalam Varavayi No No Yes No No
Neelagiri No No Yes No No
1992 Johnnie Walker No No Yes No No
1993 Devasuram No No Yes No No
Maya Mayuram No No Yes No No
Yadavam No No Yes No No
1994 Rudraksham No No Yes No No
1996 Rajaputhran No No Yes No No
1997 Krishnagudiyil Oru Pranayakalathu No No No Yes No
Asuravamsam No No Yes No No
Aaraam Thampuran No No Yes No No
1998 Summer in Bethlehem No No Yes No No
1999 Ustaad No Co-producer Yes No No
2000 Valyettan No No Yes No No
Narasimham No No Yes No No
2001 Ravanaprabhu Yes No Yes Yes No
2002 Nandanam Yes Co-producer Yes Yes No
2003 Mizhi Randilum Yes No Yes No No
Ammakilikkoodu No No Yes No No
2004 Black Yes No Yes No No
2005 Chandrolsavam Yes No Yes No No
2006 Prajapathi Yes No Yes No No
2007 Kaiyoppu Yes Yes No No No
Nasrani No No Yes Yes No
Rock & Roll Yes No Yes No No
2008 Thirakkatha Yes Co-producer Yes Yes Yes Director Aby Kuruvilla
Gulmohar No No No No Yes Induchoodan
2009 Kerala Cafe Yes Yes Yes No No Segment:Prologue
Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathirakolapathakathinte Katha Yes No Yes No No
2010 Penpattanam No No No Yes No
Best Actor No No No No Yes Himself
Pranchiyettan and The Saint Yes Yes Yes No No
2011 Bhakthajanangalude Sradhakku No No No Yes No
Indian Rupee Yes No Yes Yes No
2012 Spirit Yes No Yes Yes No
Jawan of Vellimala No No No No Yes Dr. Shivaprasad
Bavuttiyude Namathil No Yes Yes Yes No
2013 Annayum Rasoolum No No No No Yes Usman
Kadal Kadannoru Mathukkutty Yes No Yes Yes No
2014 Munnariyippu No Yes No No No
Njan Yes Yes Yes No No
2015 Ayal Njanalla No No No Yes No
Loham Yes No Yes Yes No
2016 Leela Yes Yes No No No
2017 Puthan Panam Yes Co-producer Yes Yes No
2018 Koode No No No No Yes Aloshy
Drama[40] Yes No Yes Yes No
2019 Unda No No No No Yes C. I. Mathews Anthony
2020 Ayyappanum Koshiyum No Co-producer No No Yes Kurien John
King Fish No No No No Yes
2021 Nayattu No Co-producer No No No
One No No No No Yes Vijaya Mohan
2022 Mukundan Unni Associates No No No No Yes Adv.Gangadharan
Twenty One Gms No No No No Yes Dr.John Samuel
Kotthu No Co-producer No No Yes Sadanandan
2024 Nadikar[41] No No No No Yes Koshy
Thalavan[42] No No No No Yes Home Minister T.K.Raghavan
Secret [43] No No No No Yes TBA
Manorathangal '[44] Yes No No No No Segment:Kadugannawa, Oru Yathra Kurippu

Awards

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National Film Awards:

Kerala State Film Awards:

Kerala Film Critics Awards

Asianet Film Awards

Filmfare Awards South

Other Awards:

References

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  1. ^ a b "56th National Film Awards" Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Public Information Bureau. Retrieved 2 March 2011.
  2. ^ "Film director Ranjith Balakrishnan to head Kerala State Chalachitra Academy". The Times of India. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  3. ^ "Germinating story ideas". The Hindu. 20 February 2010. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2011.
  4. ^ "Past To Present: Mammootty's Johnnie Walker!". Filmibeat.com. 4 August 2017. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  5. ^ Lakshmi Vijayan (12 September 2016). "ജോണി വാക്കര്‍ അന്നും ഇന്നും ഒരു നൊമ്പരം: ജയരാജ്". Malayala Manorama. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  6. ^ "An award in the name of a music lover". The Hindu. 8 September 2007. Archived from the original on 1 December 2007. Retrieved 2 March 2011. Ranjith had told me that he was planning to make a film on Raju (Devasuram)
  7. ^ "Destiny's child". The Hindu. 11 August 2006. Archived from the original on 25 August 2007. Retrieved 2 March 2011. This is not Shajoon's first hit. Thachiledathu Chundan, released in 1999, with Mammootty in the lead role, was his first hit.
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