John Abraham (director)

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John Abraham
Born(1937-08-11)11 August 1937
Died31 May 1987(1987-05-31) (aged 49)
Calicut, Kerala, India
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter
"A Wonder in World Cinema" – Adoor Bhasi

John Abraham (11 August 1937 – 31 May 1987) was a Malayali Indian filmmaker, short story writer and screenwriter. Abraham is ranked among the greatest Indian film directors. His film Amma Ariyan (1986) was the only south Indian feature film to make the list of "Top 10 Indian Films" of all time by British Film Institute.[3] Agraharathil Kazhuthai was listed among the "100 Greatest Indian Films" of all time by IBN Live's 2013 poll.[4]

Early life[edit]

John Abraham was born in Chennamkary, Kuttanadu in 1937. He is from the Vazhakkat branch, Chennamkary of the Pattamukkil Family.[1][2] He completed his intermediate studies in CMS College Kottayam staying with his grandfather, who nurtured Abraham's talent in early days. After completing his degree in (history and politics) from Marthoma College, Thiruvalla, he worked as a private college teacher and latter he joined as an office assistant with Life Insurance Corporation of India in Udupi, Karnataka.[citation needed] After that he joined the FTII, Pune and there he met film-makers such as Ritwik Ghatak and Mani Kaul. Abraham graduated out of the FTII with gold medals in screenwriting and film direction. He entered the film industry working as an assistant director to Mani Kaul for the film Uski Roti (1969, Hindi).[citation needed] He has worked for some Hindi projects that was shot in Kerala, but none were released. Abraham's first attempt in direction came in 1967 named Vidyarthikale Ithile Ithile. It was the Tamil film Agraharathil Kazhuthai (1977) that gave Abraham recognition.[citation needed]

Career in film direction[edit]

He completed only four films, namely Vidyarthikale Ithile Ithile (1972), Agraharathil Kazhuthai (1977, Tamil), Cheriachante Krurakrithyangal (1979, Malayalam) and Amma Ariyan (1986, Malayalam).[citation needed]

Odessa Collective[edit]

Under Abraham the Odessa Collective came into existence in 1984 with a street drama in Fort Kochi named Nayakali (The game of dogs). Odessa was an attempt by a group of movie enthusiasts to change the history of film production and distribution by making it a collaborative effort with the public and thus act as an empowering and liberating medium.[5] For the financing of the first film produced by Odessa, Abraham and his friends travelled through villages and collected money from the general public.[6] Odessa also collected funds for the film by screening Charlie Chaplin's The Kid. The film, Amma Ariyan (Report to mother) (1986) was exhibited across the state of Kerala on a non-commercial basis,[7] an initiative kept alive, after Abraham's death, by his colleague and co-founder of Odessa Collective, Odessa Sathyan.[8]

He started shooting a documentary based on the life of E.M.S. Namboodiripad, but never completed it.[9]

The media called him Ottayan (The Lone Tusker).[10]

He has left behind a number of complete and incomplete scripts. A collection of his stories had been published under the title Nerchakkozhi. Another collection of his stories has been published posthumously under the title John Abrahaminte Kathakal by Pakshikkottam Books, Thiruvananthapuram in 1993.[citation needed]


On 30 May 1987 Abraham was admitted to the Calicut Medical College hospital following his fall from a house top after a party. He was not identified by the hospital authorities, and allegedly not given due attention and medical care, which caused his condition to deteriorate, leading to his death on 31 May.[11] Following the allegations of medical negligence, a departmental inquiry was conducted into the incident. 26 years after Abraham's death, social activist B. Ekbal who was a surgeon at the Calicut Medical College when Abraham was admitted for treatment, revealed that the director could have been saved if his identity was known to the doctors at the time of admission. He said the doctors at the casualty did not know Abraham and mistook him for a film representative when he said that he was a filmmaker. In a Facebook post, Ekbal said the doctors failed to diagnose internal bleeding suffered by Abraham and to check his blood pressure which could have prevented him from slipping into a shock through a timely surgery.[12]


  • 1967: Koyna Nagar – Director (in English) – Unreleased
  • 1969: Priya – Director (in Hindi) – (John's Diploma film at FTII, Pune)
  • 1969: Hides and Strings – Director (in English)
Feature films


  • Nerchakkozhi (1986)
  • John Abrahaminte Kathakal (1993)


National Film Awards:

Kerala State Film Awards:

Awards in memory of John Abraham[edit]


  1. ^ a b K. N. Shaji, ed. (2011). John Abraham. Chintha Publishers.
  2. ^ a b Skaria Mathew (16–22 June 2013). Mathrubhumi Weekly: 22.CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
  3. ^ "Top 10 Indian Films". British Film Institute. 2002. Archived from the original on 15 May 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  4. ^ "'Mayabazar' is India's greatest film ever" Archived 4 February 2015 at WebCite. IBNLive. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  5. ^ Economic Times of India: John Abraham: New Indian Cinema's most creative representative
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 January 2009. Retrieved 30 December 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Mathrubhumi". Article and video. Mathrubhumi. 19 August 2014. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  9. ^ "John Abraham and the Socio-Political Contexts of New Cinema in Kerala". sahapedia. 8 June 2018. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  10. ^ @AkashvaniAIR (7 November 2016). ""Ottayan- The Lone Tusker" The programme will detail the life and legacy of John Abraham, hailed as 'Ottayan' or the 'Lone Tusker.'" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  11. ^ Abhish K Bose (12 June 2013). Later, neuro-surgeon B.Iqbal lamented and apologized Abraham's pathetic death. While Abraham was fighting for his life at the casualty room in Calicut Medical College, Iqbal was working there. "John Abraham was unknown to medical staff". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  12. ^ "26 years after John Abraham’s death, an autopsy on Facebook". The Hindu. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013.

Further reading[edit]

  • Kandukuri Ramesh Babu. A Tribute to John Abraham, an Avant-Garde Film Director.

External links[edit]