Lokesh Kanagaraj

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Lokesh Kanagaraj
Lokesh in 2020
Born (1986-03-14) 14 March 1986 (age 38)[1]
Alma materPSG College of Arts and Science
  • Film director
  • screenwriter
  • producer
Years active2015–present
Known forLokesh Cinematic Universe (2019‍–‍present)

Lokesh Kanagaraj (/lkʃ kʌnʌɡʌrɑː/; born 14 March 1986) is an Indian film director, screenwriter and producer who works in Tamil films. He started his career with a short film in the 2016 anthology Aviyal. He later directed his first feature film Maanagaram (2017). He created the Lokesh Cinematic Universe (LCU) franchise after the commercial success of Kaithi (2019), the franchise's first installment. He directed Master (2021), a standalone featuring Vijay which emerged a commercial success during the COVID-19 pandemic.[2] This was followed by Vikram (2022), the second installment in the LCU, with Kamal Haasan in the lead role, which emerged as one of the highest grossing Indian films. He then worked on Leo (2023), which became his most successful film, it became one of the highest grossing Indian films, earning over 600 crore (US$75 million) worldwide,[3] collaborating with Vijay again and serving it as the third installment in the LCU.

Early life[edit]

Lokesh Kanagaraj was born in Kinathukadavu, Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu, India.[4] In PSG College of Arts and Science, he majored in Fashion Technology before pursuing an MBA.[5] He did his schooling in Palanayiammal Matric Hr. Sec. School Kalliyapuram, Pollachi.[6] He is an ex-bank employee. He pursued his passion towards film making by participating in a corporate short film competition. The judge of the competition was Karthik Subbaraj. Impressed with his short film, he encouraged Lokesh to pursue a directorial career making films.[7]


Lokesh's career began with the short film, Acham Thavir (2012), which won him the best director, best film and best actor awards at the short film festival Clubace.[8] In 2016, his short film, Kalam, was included in the anthology film, Aviyal, produced by Karthik Subbaraj.[9]

In 2017, Lokesh made his directorial feature debut with the hyperlink film, Maanagaram.[10] In late 2018, he began working on a film for Dream Warrior Pictures, the same production company behind Maanagaram.[11] His next venture featured Karthi in the lead role in the action-thriller Kaithi.[12]

After Kaithi, his next film was the action-drama, Master, starring Vijay and Vijay Sethupathi.[13] It was released on 13 January 2021, a day before the Pongal festival. It opened to mostly positive reviews and emerged as a commercial success. Master was the highest grossing Indian film of 2021.[14][15]

He then directed Vikram (2022), starring Kamal Haasan, Vijay Sethupathi, and Fahadh Faasil. The huge success of the film and the Lokesh Cinematic Universe catapulted him into stardom. His next directorial after Vikram was Vijay's 67th film, Leo.[16]

Following Leo, Lokesh announced his film with Rajinikanth, for his 171st film, tentatively titled as Thalaivar 171. It was produced by Kalanithi Maran, under Sun Pictures, and the music was composed by Anirudh Ravichander.[17] The film's official title Coolie was unveiled in April 2024.[18]

In June 2023, Lokesh announced his plans to quit directing after completing at least 10 films.[19]

On 27 November 2023, he made his entry into film production by launching his production house G Squad.[20] The first look of his debut presenter Fight Club was released on 29 November 2023.[21] The film will be featuring actor director Vijay Kumar in the lead role.[22] On 14 Dec 2023, a short film of LCU was announced which would serve as a predecessor to Kaithi 2.[23]

On 14 April 2024 coinciding with Puthandu, Lokesh announced his production venture Benz directed by Bakkiyaraj Kannan and starring Raghava Lawrence in the lead. Lokesh has also written the story for this project.[24]

Filmmaking style[edit]

Lokesh's films are primarily in the action genre. He has likened himself to John Woo, who is also known mainly for directing such films. Despite this, Lokesh has expressed interest in exploring other genres such as fantasy and comedy. He has cited action films from the 1980s and 1990s as influences on his films, and has named Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Guy Ritchie, and Michael Mann as some of his favourite directors due to their filmmaking styles.

Rathna Kumar, who worked with Lokesh on Master, Vikram, and Leo, mentioned that his penchant for retro songs, realistic and grounded violence, and hyperlink narratives in his films come from his admiration for Tarantino.[25][8][26][27][28][29]


List of Lokesh Kanagaraj film credits
Year Title Credited as Role Notes Ref.
Director Writer Producer Actor
2016 Aviyal Yes Yes No No Anthology film; Segment: Kalam
2017 Maanagaram Yes Yes No No
2019 Kaithi Yes Yes No No
2021 Master Yes Yes No Yes Prisoner Cameo
2022 Vikram Yes Yes No No
2023 Michael No No Presenter No for the Tamil version [30]
Leo Yes Yes No No
Fight Club No No Presenter No
2024 Singapore Saloon No No No Yes Himself Cameo [31]

Web series[edit]

List of Lokesh Kanagaraj web series credits
Year Title Writer
2018 Vella Raja Story

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Artist Director Ref.
2024 "Inimel" Shruti Haasan Dwarkesh Prabakar [32]

Recurring collaborations[edit]

Editor Philomin Raj has worked on five films. The duo Anbariv have worked on four films. Anirudh, Rathna Kumar, Arjun Das, and Arun Alexander, Dheena, have worked on three films. Only people who have worked in three or more films are listed. This list only concerns Lokesh Kanagaraj's directorial films.

List of Lokesh Kanagaraj recurring collaborations
Film Philomin Raj Anbariv Arjun Das Arun Alexander Anirudh Ravichander Dheena Rathna Kumar
Maanagaram (2017) checkY checkY checkY
Kaithi (2019) checkY checkY checkY checkY checkY
Master (2021) checkY checkY checkY checkY checkY checkY
Vikram (2022) checkY checkY checkY Cameo checkY checkY Cameo checkY
Leo (2023) checkY checkY checkY checkY


List of Lokesh Kanagaraj awards
Ceremony Award Name Movie Status Ref.
10th Vijay Awards Best Debut Director Maanagaram Won
Zee Cine Awards Tamil Favourite Director Kaithi Won
Behindwoods Gold Medals Best Story & Screenplay Won
South Indian International Movie Awards Best Director Master Won
Behindwoods Gold Medals 2022 Talent of the Decade – Tamil Won
The Galatta Crown 2022 Favourite Director (2020–2021) Won
Behindwoods Gold Icons The Blockbuster Director of the Year Vikram Won
Ananda Vikatan Cinema Awards 2022 Best Entertainer Won


  1. ^ Lokesh Kanagaraj In Conversation With Ramya Subramanian | Vikram (in Tamil). Film Companion South. Event occurs at 36:18. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 25 May 2022 – via YouTube.
  2. ^ "Sooryavanshi Is Top INDIAN Film Post Pandemic In Two Weeks". Box Office India. 19 November 2021. Archived from the original on 3 February 2023. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  3. ^ "Leo box office collection Day 25: Vijay-Lokesh Kanagaraj film crosses Rs 600-crore mark". The Indian Express. 13 November 2023. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  4. ^ Kanagaraj, Lokesh (22 October 2019). "Lokesh Kanagaraj Interview: Kaithi Is About A Father's Love And That Rare Bond Between Strangers". Silverscreen India (Interview). Interviewed by Subha J Rao. Archived from the original on 6 November 2022. Retrieved 6 November 2022.
  5. ^ Sangeetha, P (19 March 2019). "A celebration of cinema and filmmaking". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 18 October 2018. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  6. ^ 'தளபதி-64' பத்தி இப்போ கேட்காதீங்க - Lokesh Kanagaraj | Kaithi | Thalapathy 64 [Don't ask about 'Thalapathy-64' now: Lokesh Kanagaraj | Kaithi | Thalapathy 64]. Open Pannaa (in Tamil). Event occurs at [time needed]. Archived from the original on 15 March 2020. Retrieved 27 January 2021 – via YouTube.
  7. ^ முதல் படத்திலேயே முத்திரை பதித்த இளம் இயக்குநர்களுடன் ஒரு உரையாடல் | சினிமா18 [A conversation with young directors who made their mark with their first film | Cinema18]. News 18 Tamil Nadu (in Tamil). Event occurs at [time needed]. Archived from the original on 1 February 2021. Retrieved 25 January 2021 – via YouTube.
  8. ^ a b Subramanian, Lakshmi (19 June 2022). "Vikram director Lokesh Kanagaraj is building his own cinematic universe". The Week. Archived from the original on 15 November 2022. Retrieved 23 October 2023.
  9. ^ Anantharam, Chitra Deepa (9 March 2017). "The lives of others". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 21 July 2023. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  10. ^ "Maanagaram- Opens big on March 10". Sify. Archived from the original on 7 March 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  11. ^ "No heroine in Karthi's next with Lokesh Kanagaraj". The News Minute. 15 December 2018. Archived from the original on 14 April 2019. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  12. ^ "Kaithi will showcase Karthi's potential as a versatile actor: Lokesh Kanagaraj". The Times of India. 11 March 2019. Archived from the original on 12 March 2019. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  13. ^ "Team Thalapathy 64 arrives in Delhi; second schedule begins". The Indian Express. 1 November 2019. Archived from the original on 29 September 2022. Retrieved 6 November 2022.
  14. ^ "2021 Top grossers in Tamil Nadu – Thalapathy Vijay's Master tops". Pinkvilla. 6 January 2022. Archived from the original on 1 September 2022. Retrieved 6 November 2022.
  15. ^ "Year Ender 2021: Master to Annaatthe, Highest-grossing Tamil Movies of 2021". News18. 29 December 2021. Archived from the original on 4 February 2022. Retrieved 6 November 2022.
  16. ^ "Leo trailer: Lokesh Kanagaraj presents Vijay in all his glory as he single-handedly fights a truckload of villains". The Indian Express. 5 October 2023. Archived from the original on 8 October 2023. Retrieved 8 October 2023.
  17. ^ "Thalaivar 171: Sun Pictures confirms Rajinikanth and Lokesh Kanagaraj film". The Indian Express. 11 October 2023. Archived from the original on 12 September 2023. Retrieved 12 September 2023.
  18. ^ "Rajinikanth starrer Thalaivar 171 titled 'Coolie'". DT Next. 22 April 2024. Retrieved 22 April 2024.
  19. ^ "Leo director Lokesh Kanagaraj says he has no plans to stay in film industry for long: 'I will do 10 movies and quit'". The Indian Express. 20 June 2023. Archived from the original on 21 June 2023. Retrieved 21 June 2023.
  20. ^ Bureau, The Hindu (27 November 2023). "Lokesh Kanagaraj launches own prodution house G Squad". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 27 November 2023.
  21. ^ மலர், மாலை (29 November 2023). "லோகேஷ் கனகராஜின் முதல் படம்.. வைரலாகும் Fight Club போஸ்டர்". www.maalaimalar.com (in Tamil). Retrieved 29 November 2023.
  22. ^ "Leo director Lokesh Kanagaraj announces his first film as producer; here's everything you want to know". Pinkvilla. 29 November 2023. Retrieved 30 November 2023.
  23. ^ "A Short Prequel To LCU? South Actor Narain Has More On It". News18. 14 December 2023. Retrieved 14 December 2023.
  24. ^ "Lokesh Kanagaraj's new venture with Raghava Lawrence and Bakkiyaraj Kannan titled Benz". Hindustan Times. 14 April 2024. Retrieved 14 April 2024.
  25. ^ Shrikrishna, Aditya (1 October 2023). "Lokesh Kanagaraj's home-grown style". Mint Lounge. Archived from the original on 24 October 2023. Retrieved 23 October 2023.
  26. ^ Rajendran, Gopinath (18 October 2023). "Lokesh Kanagaraj on Vijay's 'Leo' and why the LCU features heroes battling for a drug-free society". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 23 October 2023. Retrieved 23 October 2023.
  27. ^ Chandar, Bhuvanesh (18 October 2023). "Lokesh Kanagaraj's 'Leo' and the history of violence in tamil cinema". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 23 October 2023. Retrieved 23 October 2023.
  28. ^ S, Srivatsan (25 October 2019). "Lokesh Kanagaraj on why he admires Kamal Haasan — the writer". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 20 December 2021. Retrieved 23 October 2023.
  29. ^ Nath, Akshaya (19 February 2023). "Lokesh Kanagaraj is Tamil Tarantino. His hit-machine universe is ready & ripe". ThePrint. Archived from the original on 24 October 2023. Retrieved 23 October 2023.
  30. ^ Dundoo, Sangeetha Devi (23 January 2023). "Interview: Sundeep Kishan says the gangster drama movie 'Michael' has changed him as an actor and a person". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 28 January 2023. Retrieved 23 January 2023.
  31. ^ "THESE stars play cameo roles in RJ Balaji's 'Singapore Saloon'". The Times of India. 28 March 2023. Archived from the original on 28 March 2023. Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  32. ^ "Lokesh Kanagaraj Romances Shruti Haasan In Inimel, Kamal Haasan Lyrical Goes Viral | Watch". News18. 25 March 2024. Retrieved 28 March 2024.

External links[edit]