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For the 2007 Malayalam science fiction thriller film, see Bharathan Effect.
Bharathan (cropped).jpg
Born (1946-11-14)14 November 1946
Enkakkad, Wadakanchery, Thrissur, India
Died 30 July 1998(1998-07-30) (aged 51)
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Occupation Film director,artist, lyricist, music director, sculptor, poster designer, editor and art director
Years active 1973–1998
Spouse(s) KPAC Lalitha
Children Sreekutti, Siddharth
Awards Kerala State Film Awards
1975- Best Art Director (Prayanam)
1979- Best Art Director(Various Films)
1980- Director of Second Best Film(Chamaram)
1980- Best Art Director(Chamaram)
1981- Best Art Director(Chatta)
1982- Director of Best Film(Marmaram)
1982- Director of Second Best Film(Ormakkayi)
1982- Best Director(Various Films)
1982- Best Art Director(Ormakkayi)
1984- Best Art Director(Ithirippoove Chuvanna Poove)
1987- Director Best Film with Popular Appeal and Aesthetic Value(Oru Minnaminunginte Nurunguvettam)
1992- Director Best Film with Popular Appeal and Aesthetic Value(Venkalam)

Bharathan (Malayalam: ഭരതന്‍, 14 November 1946 – 30 July 1998) was an Indian film director, artist, lyricist, music director, sculptor, poster designer, editor and art director. Bharathan is noted for being the founder of a new school of film making in Malayalam cinema, along with Padmarajan, in the 1980s, which created films that were widely received while also being critically acclaimed. A train of directors, and screenwriters followed this school onto the 1990s including Sibi Malayil, Kamal, Lohithadas, Jayaraj, and Sathyan Anthikkad.

He is widely regarded as one of the most influential and prolific filmmakers of Malayalam cinema and directed more than 50 movies in multiple languages. He was born at Engakkadu near Wadakkancherry, in present-day Thrissur district of Kerala, India.

Early career[edit]

After completing his diploma from the College of Fine Arts, Thrissur City, Bharathan entered the world of Cinema as an art director for Vincent, an accomplished director of the time and the movie was Ghandarva Kshetram. He got the inspiration from his uncle, P. N. Menon — a veteran film director. After working as an art director and assistant director for a few movies, he made his directorial debut in 1974 with Prayanam, based on Padmarajan’s script. It also marked the rise of two early proponents of middle-stream Malayalam cinema.[1]

Style and themes[edit]

Bharathan's films were well known for their realistic portrayal of rural life in Kerala. Melodrama and escapism, often an integral part of mainstream cinema in India, were usually absent in his films. He also managed to steer clear of the "star-centric" culture, prevalent in Indian cinema, throughout his career. His later films did involve major movie stars but usually without compromising on plot or narrative. Bharathan, along with Padmarajan and K. G. George were largely responsible for introducing a counter culture of meaningful mainstream cinema which often tread the middle path between art-house and commercial cinema. This movement was often called the "middle of the road cinema". Bharathan's films were known for their visually appealing shot compositions. His background as a painter enabled him to create frames that were often credited for their visual beauty. Natural props and nature itself often became important characters in his films (like the railway track in Palangal, or the sea in Amaram). Bharathan is one of the few Indian directors known to use an elaborate story-board system for filming. He also often designed the posters for his films.

Several of his early films were known for their bold portrayal of sexual themes.His films often defied social conventions and norms about man-woman relationships. Rathinirvedam was the sexual-coming-of-age story of the relationship between a teenager and an older woman while Chaamaram dealt with the tumultuous affair between a student and his college lecturer. In Kattathe Kilikkoodu an elderly, married Professor falls for his student. Kaathodu Kaathoram was about the social ostracism of a woman who has an adulterous relationship.

The latter half of Bharathan's career saw a distinct change in film making style characterized by a wider canvas, more attention to detail with more distinct focus on narrative style (e.g., Vaishali, Amaram, Thaazhvaaram, and Thevar Magan). Some critics argue that this quest for technical excellence was at the expense of the quality of thematic content. Films like Vaishali and Amaram (where he collaborated with acclaimed cinematographer Madhu Ambat) set a new benchmark for cinematographic excellence in Malayalam and Indian Cinema. Thaazhvaaram was stylistically inspired by Classic Hollywood Westerns though the theme and backdrop were distinctly original.

His last few films (Manjeeradhwani, Devaraagam and Churam) were received moderately by critics.

Film career[edit]

The director showed a penchant for brilliantly portraying rustic life in rural Kerala.

Bharathan directed over 40 films in Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu. Starting his career in 1975 with Prayanam, Bharathan rode to fame with his off-beat Thakara, a film about a dumb-witted central character who falls in love with the village beauty. Some of his other memorable films include Rathinirvedam, Chamaram, Paalangal, Amaram, and Vaishali.[2]

He displayed a rare talent in treating sex without falling into vulgarity which was to later became the trademark of the so-called "Bharathan touch." His association with Padmarajan was the beginning of a golden era in Malayalam cinema. A few more films came out from the duo's partnership before Padmarajan became an independent director himself. Rathi Nirvedam and Thakara were the most noted among them with latter being considered one of his best.

Rathi Nirvedam was a sensitive treatment of teenage sexual angst. In Thakara, he deals with life and longings of a mentally retarded youth and his association with the society.

In the early 1980s he made several notable movies like Chaamaram, Marmaram, Paalangal, Ormakkayi, Kaatathe Killikoodu, and many more. They did well in theaters and set the trend for meaningful mainstream cinema. Other noted directors followed suit. It was the romantic era of Malayalam cinema.

Not all of Bharathan's films skirted with bold themes and controversy. In Oru Minnaaminunginte Nurunguvettam (1987), he tells the poignant story of a childless couple in their post retirement life. It deals with the isolation and loneliness that comes with old age. The film was a departure from Bharathan's usual style and proved to be a major commercial hit while garnering critical acclaim, too.

Screenwriter Lohithadas, director Bharathan and cinematographer Ramachandra Babu at the location of Venkalam.

His Vaisali (1988) is widely regarded as a modern-day masterpiece in Malayalam cinema. Scripted by the iconic Malayalam novelist M. T. Vasudevan Nair, it was an adaptation of a sub-story told in the epic Mahabharatha. Another movie born from their association was Thazhvaram. The subject was revenge, a theme quite uncharacteristic of Bharathan movies. The style was inspired by classic Westerns with a brooding, reticent central character and expansive shots of barren landscape.

Even though he was not known to cater to the star-centric system, Bharathan was instrumental in bringing together the two screen icons of Tamil cinema Sivaji Ganesan and Kamal Hassan in the Tamil film Thevar Magan which won critical acclaim and box office success. Sivaji gave an uncharacteristically restrained yet brilliant performance. The movie won several national awards and was remade into many regional languages (most notably Virasat in Hindi).

His more experimental films include Aaravam, more an arthouse than commercial venture, and Nidra, about the plight of a woman who is in love with a mentally deranged man.

His creativity was not confined to film direction. He also wrote lyrics and tuned songs for his films. (e.g., Keli; “Thaaram Valkannadi Nokki…"; or title song for Kathodu Kathoram). He associated with writer P. R. Nathan in his Keli.

Later life[edit]

Bharatan died at a private hospital in Chennai on 30 July 1998 at the age of 52 following prolonged illness. His dead body was taken to his native place Wadakkanchery and was cremated at the premises of his home with full state honours. His last film was 'Churam', released a year before his death.

Personal life[edit]

Bharathan was married to noted theatre and film actress K. P. A. C. Lalitha with whom he associated in a lot of films before and after marriage. It was on the sets of Rathinirvedam (1978) that he proposed to Lalitha and they got married soon after the shooting of this film.[3] Bharathan's son Siddharth Bharathan is a noted film actor, director and scenarist. Having made his debut as an actor in the 2002 film Nammal, Siddharth went on to act in a few more low-budget ventures before he made his debut as a director by remaking Bharathan's 1981 film Nidra into a film with the same title in 2012.


No: Year Title Cast Script Writer Music
1 1975 Prayanam Mohan Sharma, Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair, Master Raghu, Lakshmi, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Nanditha Bose P. Padmarajan M. B. Sreenivasan
2 1977 Guruvayur Kesavan M.G. Soman, Adoor Bhasi, Sankaradi, Bahadoor, Jayabharathi Puthur Unnikrishnan, N. Govindan Kutty G. Devarajan
3 1978 Aniyara M.G. Soman, Bahadoor, Sankaradi, Urmila, Kaviyoor Ponnamma Uroob G. Devarajan
4 1978 Rathinirvedam Jayabharathi, Krishnachandran, M.G. Soman P. Padmarajan G. Devarajan
5 1978 Aaravam Nedumudi Venu, Prathap Pothan, Bahadoor, KPAC Lalitha, Prameela Bharathan M. G. Radhakrishnan
6 1979 'Thakara Nedumudi Venu, Surekha, Prathap Pothan P. Padmarajan M. G. Radhakrishnan
7 1980 Lorry Achankunju, Balan K. Nair, Nithya, Pratap Pothan P. Padmarajan M. S. Viswanathan
8 1981 Chamaram Pratap Pothan, Zarina Wahab Balakrishnan Mangad, John Paul M. G. Radhakrishnan, Ravindran
9 1981 Chatta Nedumudi Venu, Achankunju, Balan K. Nair, Shubha, Sandhya P. R. Nathan, Bharathan Johnson
10 1981 Parvathi Prem Nazeer, Rajkumar Sethupathi, Latha, KPAC Lalitha , Prameela Adaptation of the novel Adiyaravu by Kakkanadan Johnson
11 1981 Nidra Vijay Menon, Shanthikrishna, Abraham P. K., Lalu Alex, KPAC Lalitha Bharathan G. Devarajan
12 1981 Parankimala Nedumudi Venu, Benny, Achankunju, Rani Padmini, Soorya Adaptation of a novel by Kaakkanaadan G. Devarajan
13 1982 Marmaram Nedumudi Venu, Jalaja, Bharath Gopi Vijayan Karott, John Paul M. S. Vishwanathan
14 Ormakkayi Madhavi, Bharath Gopi, Rohini John Paul Johnson
15 Palangal Nedumudi Venu, Zarina Wahab, Bharath Gopi, KPAC Lalitha, Bahadoor, Shankar John Paul Johnson
16 1983 Kattathe Kilikkoodu Bharath Gopi, Mohanlal, Srividya, Revathi

story Nedumudi Venu; script and dialogues T.Damodaran|

17 Eenam Bharath Gopi, Venu Nagavally, Unni Mary, Santhikrishna P. Padmarajan Bharathan
18 Sandhya Mayangum Neram Bharath Gopi, Jayabharathi, Unni Mary, Sreenath Babu, John Paul, Bharathan Shyam
19 1984 Ithiripoove Chuvannapoove Mammootty, Rahman, Suresh, Shobhana, Madhu, K. R. Vijaya Adaptation of a drama by Thikkodiyan; screenplay: T.Damodaran and John Paul; dialogues: T. Damodaran Ravindran
20 Ente Upasana Mammootty, Suhasini, Cochin Haneefa, Unnimary Mallika Younis, Thoppil Bhasi Johnson
21 1985 Kathodu Kathoram Mammootty, Saritha, Janardhanan, Nedumudi Venu, Innocent, Lizy John Paul Bharathan, Ouseppachan
22 Ozhivukaalam Prem Nazir, Karamana Janardanan Nair, Srividya P. Padmarajan Johnson
23 1986 Chilambu Rahman, Shobhana, Thilakan, Babu Antony, Innocent, Nedumudi Venu N.T Balachandran, Bharathan Ouseppachan
24 Pranamam Mammooty, Ashokan, Suhasini, Vineeth, Nedumudi Venu, Babu Antony Dennis Joseph Ouseppachan
25 1987 Oru Minnaminunginte Nurunguvettam Nedumudi Venu, Sharada, Parvathy, Devan, M. S. Thripunithura John Paul Johnson
26 Neela Kurinji Poothappol Karthika, Girish Karnad, Nedumudi Venu, KPAC Lalitha, Innocent John Paul Jerry Amaldev
27 1988 Vaishali Suparna Anand, Sanjay Mitra, Babu Antony, Geetha, Parvathy, Nedumudi Venu M. T. Vasudevan Nair Bombay Ravi
28 1989 Oru Sayahnathinte Swapnam Madhu, Mukesh, Suhasini, Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair, Jagathi Sreekumar John Paul Ouseppachan
29 1990 Thazhvaram Mohanlal, Sumalatha, Salim Ghouse, Sankaradi M. T. Vasudevan Nair Bharathan
30 1991 Amaram Mammootty, Maathu, Ashokan, Murali, KPAC Lalitha, Chithra A. K. Lohithadas Ravindran
31 Keli Jayaram, Innocent, Nedumudi Venu, Murali, Charmila John Paul Bharathan
32 1992 Aavarampoo Vineeth, Goundamani, Vaidehi, Nasser Story by P. Padmarajan Ilayaraja
33 Thevar Magan Sivaji Ganeshan, Kamal Haasan, Revathi, Gauthami, Nasser Kamal Haasan Ilayaraja
34 Malootty Baby Shamili, Urvashi, Jayaram, Nedumudi Venu John Paul Johnson
35 1993 Venkalam Murali, Manoj K. Jayan, Urvashi, KPAC Lalitha Mala Aravindan A. K. Lohithadas Ravindran
36 Chamayam Murali, Manoj K. Jayan, Saikumar, Sithara, Ranjitha John Paul Johnson
37 Padheyam Mammootty, Revathi, Sasikala, Bharath Gopi, Nedumudi Venu, Chippy, Lalu Alex,Oduvil A. K. Lohithadas Bombay Ravi
38 1996 Devaraagam Aravind Swamy, Sridevi, Narendra Prasad, Nedumudi Venu, Janardhanan Money Shornur M. M. Keeravani
39 1997 Manjeeradhwani Vineeth, Sakshi Sivanand, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Nasser John Paul Ilayaraja
40 1998 Churam Manoj K. Jayan, Divya Unni, Nedumudi Venu, Philomina Shibu Chakravarthy Johnson


National Film Awards:

Kerala State Film Awards:

No Year Award Title
1 1975 Best Art Director Prayanam
2 1979 Best Art Director Thakara
3 1980 Best Art Director Chamaram
4 1980 Second Best Film Chamaram
5 1981 Best Art Director Chatta
6 1982 Best Film Marmaram
7 1982 Second Best Film Ormakkayi
8 1982 Best Director Marmaram,Ormakkayi
9 1982 Best Art Director Ormakkayi
10 1984 Best Art Director Ithiripoove Chuvanthapoove
11 1987 Kerala State Film Award for Best film with popular appeal and aesthetic value Oru Minnaminunginte Nurunguvettam
12 1992 Kerala State Film Award for Best film with popular appeal and aesthetic value Venkalam


External links[edit]