23 May 1946
Muthukulam, Haripad, Alappuzha
|Died||24 January 1991
Kozhikode, Kerala, India
|Occupation||Film director, writer, AIR news reader|
|Parents||Thundathil Anantha Padmanabha Pillai, Njavarakkal Devaki Amma|
P. Padmarajan (Malayalam: പി. പത്മരാജന്; 23 May 1946 – 24 January 1991) was an Indian author, screenwriter, and film director who was known for his landmark works in Malayalam literature and Malayalam cinema. Padmarajan was the founder of a new school of film making in Malayalam, along with Bharathan, in the 1980s, which created films that were widely received while also being critically acclaimed.
Padmarajan was noted for his fine and detailed screenwriting and expressive direction style. Padmarajan made some of the landmark motion pictures in Malayalam cinema, including masterpieces like Oridathoru Phayalvaan (1981), Koodevide (1983), Arappatta Kettiya Gramathil (1986), Namukku Parkkan Munthiri Thoppukal (1986), Thoovanathumbikal (1987), Moonnam Pakkam (1988), Innale (1989) and Njan Gandharvan (1991).
Born at Muthukulam near Haripad in Alappuzha district, he was the sixth son of Thundathil Anantha Padmanabha Pillai and Njavarakkal Devaki Amma. After early schooling at Muthukulam, he studied at M. G. College and University College Trivandrum, graduating with a BSc 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 busy involvement in films would prompt him to retire voluntarily.
Career as screenwriter and director
His stories deal with deceit, murder, romance, mystery, passion, jealousy, libertinism, anarchism, individualism, and the life of peripheral elements of society. Some of them are considered as among the best in Malayalam literature, his first novel Nakshathrangale Kaaval (With only the stars as witness) won the Kerala Sahithya Academy award (1972).
He entered the world of Malayalam films by writing the screenplay for Bharathan's directorial debut Prayaanam (1975) to take first steps to be one of the most talented script writers to have graced Malayalam cinema.
He later began to direct films based on his own screenplays, beginning with Peruvazhiyambalam (The Street as a Choultry) (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. Padmarajan was a great experimenter who explored all walks of life in his works. His screen plays had such hitherto-unheard of features and subjects – such as casting rain as a character in Thoovanthumbikal (Dragonflies in the Spraying Rain), friendship and lesbianism in Desadanakili Karayarilla (Migratory Birds Don't Cry), unusual climax (By traditional standards) in Namukku Parkkan Munthiri Thoppukal (Vineyards for us to dwell) and Oridaththoru Phayalvaan (There Lived a Wrestler). Many of his films bear the mark of his romanticism.
He is celebrated for his possibly 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 were portrayed with great sensitivity and intensity on the screen and many of the scenes are generously sprinkled with humor. The dialogues of characters are quite natural, in the language of the common man, and yet have a subtle lyrical quality.
Indeed, a just case 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 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 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 actors
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); Shaari (Namukku Parkkan Munthirithoppukal) were introduced to Malayalam screen by him.
He coaxed sparkling and inspired performances from many actors, such as Mohanlal, Mammootty, Bharath Gopi, Karamana Janardanan Nair, Rahman, Jagathy Sreekumar, Suresh Gopi (in Innale), Shobhana, Sumalatha, Thilakan, and Nedumudi Venu; 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 script writer is considered to have produced remarkable works in Malayalam cinema. His assistants who went on to direct films independently include Thoppil Ajayan (Perumthachchan), Suresh Unnithan (Jaathakam, Raadhaamaadhavam), and Blessy (Kaazhcha, Thanmaathra, the latter adapted from Padmarajan's short story Orma.
His sudden and untimely death, which occurred at Hotel Paramount Towers in Calicut while he was visiting a Cinema playing his last film Njan Gandharvan. The news of his death was a shock to Keralites and was widely mourned, and the feeling of loss among the people of Kerala lingers to this day.
His wife Radhalakshmi recalls that during the later part of year 1990 when Padmarajan was planning to do Njan Gandharvan there were many bad omens in his life. Gandharvans are singers from heaven in Hindu Mythology and their visits to Earth are believed to cast a spell on maidens and is usually dealt with an attitude of fear by the traditional Hindus. Following this belief, many people along with his wife advised Padmarajan not to make a film based on this subject. After postponing the film on this subject many times Padmarajan finally decided to do this film and started the work for the film. Many "bad omens" surfaced in this period, the flight he was supposed to travel to Mumbai to select the hero of the film was hit by a bird and was cancelled. There were continuous problems in the site of the film. Heroine Suparna fainted under a Pala tree during the shoot. Actor Nitish was also accounted to having fainted on getting poisoned from a betel leaf. Padmarajan was notably losing weight during this period and had high cholesterol despite the fact that he was jogging regularly and had stopped smoking. Despite the obstacles, the team completed the movie. The team including Nitish Bharadwaj and Padmarajan planned to visit the theaters in Calicut to promote the film where he joined the unknown. He has also done a cameo appearance in the movie kalli chellamma.
Padmarajan's wife Radhalakshmi Padmarajan 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.
|#||Name||Translation in English|
|1||Itha Ivide Vare||Look! Till Here|
|2||Jalajwala||The Watery Fire|
|3||Manju Kaalam Notta Kuthira||The Horse Which Longed for Winter|
|4||Nakshathrangale Kaaval||The Stars Alone Guard Me|
|5||Nanmakalude Sooryan||The Sun of Virtues|
|6||Onnu Randu Moonnu||One two Three|
|8||Prathimayum Rajakumariyum||The Statue and the Princess|
|10||Rithubhedhangalude Paarithoshikam||The Reward of Vicissitudes|
|11||Shavavahanangalum Thedi||In Search of Biers|
|12||Udakappola||A Bubble in the Water|
|13||Vadakakku Oru Hridayam||A Heart for Rent|
|Year||Original title||English title||Direction||Story||Screenplay||Notes|
|1975||Prayanam||The Journey||Yes||Yes||Directed by Bharathan.|
|1977||Itha Ivide Vare||Look! Till here||Yes||Yes||Based on the novel of the same name. Directed by I. V. Sasi.|
|1978||Nakshathrangale Kaaval||The Stars Alone Guard Me||Yes||Yes||Based on the novel of the same name. Directed by K. S. Sethumadhavan.|
|1978||Rappadikalude Gatha||The Song of the Nightingales||Yes||Yes||Directed by K. G. George.|
|1978||Rathinirvedam||Adolescent Desire||Yes||Yes||Based on the novel of the same name. Directed by Bharathan.|
|1978||Sathrathil Oru Rathri||A Night in an Inn||Yes||Yes||Directed by N. Sankaran Nair.|
|1978||Shalini Ente Koottukari||Shalini, My Friend||Yes||Yes||Directed by Mohan.|
|1978||Vadakakku Oru Hridayam||A Heart for Hire||Yes||Yes||Based on the novel of the same name. Directed by I. V. Sasi.|
|1979||Peruvazhiyambalam||Highway Shelter||Yes||Yes||Yes||Based on the novel of the same name.|
|1979||Kochu Kochu Thettukal||Minor Mistakes||Yes||Yes||Directed by Mohan.|
|1980||Thakara||Weed||Yes||Yes||Based on the short story of the same name. Directed by Bharathan.|
|1981||Oridathoru Phayalvaan||There Lived a Wrestler||Yes||Yes||Yes||Also edited the film.|
|1981||Kallan Pavithran||Pavithran, the Thief||Yes||Yes||Yes||Based on the novel of the same name.|
|1981||Lorry||Yes||Yes||Directed by Bharathan.|
|1982||Novemberinte Nashtam||November's Loss||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|1982||Idavela||Interval||Yes||Yes||Directed by Mohan.|
|1983||Koodevide?||Wither the Nest||Yes||Yes||Based on the Tamil novel Moongil Pookkal by Vaasanthi.|
|1983||Kaikeyi||Yes||Yes||Based on the short story of the same name. Directed by I. V. Sasi.|
|1983||Eenam||Tune||Yes||Yes||Directed by Bharathan.|
|1984||Parannu Parannu Parannu||Soaring Soaring Soaring||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|1984||Kanamarayathu||Beyond the Horizon||Yes||Yes||Directed by I. V. Sasi.|
|1985||Thinkalazhcha Nalla Divasam||Monday, an Auspicious Day||Yes||Yes||Based on the radio drama Ammakku Vendi by Sajini Pavithran.|
|1985||Ozhivukalam||Vacation||Yes||Yes||Directed by Bharathan.|
|1985||Karimbinpoovinakkare||Across the Sugarcane Flowers||Yes||Yes||Directed by I. V. Sasi.|
|1986||Namukku Parkkan Munthiri Thoppukal||Vineyards for Us to Dwell||Yes||Yes||Based on the novel Nammukku Graamangalil Chennu Raappaarkkaam by K. K. Sudhakaran.|
|1986||Kariyila Kattu Pole||Like a Zephyr of Dry Leaves||Yes||Yes||Based on the radio drama Sisirathil Oru Prabhatham by Sudhakar Mangalodayam.|
|1986||Arappatta Kettiya Gramathil||In the Village Which Wears a Warrior's Belt||Yes||Yes||Yes||Based on the short story of the same name.|
|1986||Desatanakkili Karayarilla||The Migratory Bird Never Cries||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|1986||Nombarathi Poovu||The Sorrowful Flower||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|1987||Thoovanathumbikal||Butterflies of the Spraying Rain||Yes||Yes||Yes||Based on the novel Udakappola.|
|1988||Aparan||The Impostor||Yes||Yes||Yes||Loosely based on the short story of the same name.
Story credited to Padmarajan and M. K. Chandrasekharan.
|1988||Moonnam Pakkam||On the Third Day||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|1990||Innale||Yesterday||Yes||Yes||Based on the Tamil novel Punarjananam by Vaasanthi.|
|1990||Ee Thanutha Veluppan Kalathu||In These Cold Wee Hours||Yes||Yes||Directed by Joshi.|
|1991||Njan Gandharvan||I, Celestial Lover||Yes||Yes||Yes|
- 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 for Best Short Story
- Padmarajan Puraskaram for Best Film
- Padmarajan at the Internet Movie Database
- An excerpt from Padmarajan: Ente Gandharvan by Radhalakshmi (in Malayalam)
- An article by Mathrubhumi during the silver jubilee of Aparan