Pa. Ranjith

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Pa. Ranjith
Tamil Director Pa. Ranjith.jpg

(1982-12-08) 8 December 1982 (age 37)
Alma materGovernment College of Fine Arts, Chennai
OccupationFilm director
Years active2012–present
WebsitePersonal Twitter

Pa.Ranjith is an Indian director and filmmaker[1] who makes Tamil language films. He made his directorial debut with the 2012 romantic comedy Attakathi, before earning unanimously positive reviews for his second film, the political drama Madras (2014). In 2016, he wrote and directed the gangster-drama Kabali and in 2018, Kaala both starring Rajinikanth.

Personal life and education[edit]

Pa. Ranjith was born at Karalapakkam, Avadi, Chennai.[2] He belongs to Dalit community and has two brothers - Prabhu and Saravana.[3][4] He graduated from Government College of Fine Arts, Chennai, and has described that his travels to and from his college often helped create inspiration for film ideas.[5]

Ranjith studied in multiple schools - Karapakkam Panchayat Union School, Veliyur Government Higher Secondary School and Avadi Government School. His maternal uncles were drawing artists and Ranjith got the inspiration from them towards drawing, during his childhood; that eventually made him enroll in Fine Arts College.

He is married to Anitha and the couple has a daughter. Anitha was a junior to Ranjith in college.

Early life[edit]

During his college days, he joined the film chamber and began watching world cinema, regularly attending annual film festivals. He gained inspiration from films including The Battle of Algiers (1966) and City of God (2002), stating they changed his thinking of cinema and revealed that they had a deep impact on him.[5] Ranjith has been known to use symbolism in his movies to exhibit ongoing social problems which otherwise have trouble reaching the masses due to restrictions by Central Board of Film Certification in using actual references of caste based exploitation in movies.

Ranjith joined the film industry as an assistant director and first worked on Shiva Shanmugam's Thagapansamy (2006), which he has since revealed as an "unmemorable stint", before moving on to apprentice under film makers N. Linguswamy and Venkat Prabhu. He initially helped prepare a storyboard for a Malaysian album that Venkat Prabhu had been working on in 2006, before gaining trust and being allowed to work closely with him during the making of Chennai 600028 (2007).[5]

Film career[edit]


Ranjith was introduced to a newcomer producer C. V. Kumar in 2011 by a mutual friend, Mani, who convinced Kumar to give Ranjith an opportunity to make a film. Consequently, Attakathi was completed in fifty days on a budget of 1.75 crores.[5] Following promising pre-release reviews, the venture became bigger when production house Studio Green chose to buy the distribution rights. The film opened to positive review in August 2012, with noting the film "looks at youth and romance in a most refreshing way" and added that Ranjith should take "the credit, completely, of taking an ordinary storyline and infusing it with warmth and hilarity."[6] Sify's critic, similarly, wrote "we recommend that you make time for this charming little treat of a film, as it has an inherent sweetness and honesty that will stay with you".[7]


Studio Green signed up Pa. Ranjith to direct a film for their production house and in December 2012, he confirmed that he would shortly begin work on a project titled Sarpatta Paramparai with Karthi in the lead role, though production was subsequently delayed and did not take off as planned.[8] In July 2013, it was announced that the pair would collaborate on a new script and that Sarpatta Parambarai and their ongoing venture, Madras, were two different scripts. Although the producers liked both scripts, Ranjith decided to shoot Madras first as Karthi had accidentally read the script of Madras and liked its concept and characters.[9] During pre-production of the film, Ranjith returned home to North Chennai to research and took stock of the residents' body language, sports, fashion, behaviour and dialogues. He revealed that through his script, he hoped to depict the angst and depression of the youth of the region and wrote several characters in the film including the two leads to represent individuals with "bottled up anger".[5] Ranjith also informed that some changes were made to the script to accommodate Karthi in the lead role.[10] Also featuring Catherine Tresa and Kalaiyarasan in prominent roles, Madras told the story of a dispute over a political message written on wall in North Chennai and how the region's political rivalry affects the inhabitants. Madras received highly positive reviews from critics, who praised the performances of the actors, as well as the technical aspects of the film.[11] Udhav Naig, writing for The Hindu said, "Rarely does one get to see a Tamil film that reflects the social reality so closely and sketching a detailed account of life that the middle and the upper middle class know little about. Full marks to Pa. Ranjith for that".[12] Writing for The New Indian Express, Malini Mannath said, "With an engaging screenplay, deft narration, well fleshed out characters and actors well cast, Madras captures the feel, flavour and ambiance of North Madras with perfect precision".[13] Sify said, "Madras works big time as writer and director Ranjith has given priority to his script, which hooks the audiences straightaway. It is a triumph of honest writing and heartfelt dialogues. It is a gutsy and outstanding film".[14]


He began pre-production work for a venture starring Suriya in October 2014, after the actor approached him being impressed with Madras.[5] The project has been put on hold, after he began working on Kabali (2016) featuring Rajinikanth in the title role. It is a gangster film. Ranjith explores actor Rajinikanth. This movie delivers class style acting of Rajinikanth.


Kaala a sociopolitical movie, was released worldwide on 7 June. The audio launch was held on 9 May 2018 at Chennai YMCA ground, and the album is an interesting mix of genres with politically loaded lyrics. Kaala is the first Indian film ever to be released in Saudi Arabia, following the country lifting its ban on public theatres in December 2017.[15][16][17] The movie received positive reviews. The Times of India rated the film 3.5 out of 5 and stated that Ranjith owes to his excellent technical crew for "helping him visualise and deliver this 51% Rajini-49% Ranjith movie".[18]

Birsa Munda[edit]

Ranjith’s next project is a Hindi-language biopic on freedom fighter Birsa Munda.

The film, which marks the Tamil filmmaker’s first non-Tamil project, will be produced by Namah Pictures, which had co-produced Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi’s Beyond the Clouds in 2018. The cast of Ranjith’s film hasn’t been announced.[19]

Neelam Productions[edit]

Pa. Ranjith marked his foray into production under his banner ‘Neelam Productions’ with release of two documentaries titled Dr. Shoe Maker and Beware of Castes: Mirchpur.[20] Under the banner Neelam Productions, he also produced Mari Selvaraj's Pariyerum Perumal that stars Kathir and Anandhi, with music by Santhosh Narayanan. Pariyerum went on to become a huge success with high critical acclaim. Neelam Production's next project has been titled as Irandam Ulagaporin Kadaisi Gundu. The film stars Attakathi Dinesh and is directed by Athiyan Athirai.[21]

Sociocultural initiatives[edit]

Neelam Panpaatu Maiyam[edit]

Pa. Ranjith extended his social work in another form, which is 'Neelam Panpaatu Maiyam' (Neelam Cultural Center).

As part of this initiative, in honour of the 100 years of Dalit struggle, life-sized sculptures were established and the efforts of the Dalit activists were documented.[22]

Neelam Panpaatu maiyam also conducted the three day arts festival - 'Vaanam' in Chennai between December 29 to 31, 2018.[23] The festival was unticketed and many artists across Tamilandu participated in it. Also many artifacts were presented.[24] Ranjith explained that this festival would act as a platform to discuss more complex social issues through art.[25]

Neelam cultural center launched 'Koogai Thiraipada Iyakkam' (Koogai Film Movement).[26] This movement was started to bridge the gap between literature and cinema. As part of this movement, the first initiative was to set up a library named 'Koogai'.[27]

Neelam cultural center rolled out their new campaign '#VoteOutHate' and started producing short films on the same for a release in their official Youtube channel. The first film was Lovers in the afternoon directed by Rajesh Rajamani[28] and the second film was 'Share Auto' directed by Jenny Dolly.[29]

The Casteless Collective[edit]

Ranjith’s organisation, Neelam Cultural Centre, collaborated with the label Madras Records to form a 19-piece band called The Casteless Collective that includes four rappers, seven instrumentalists and eight gaana musicians, a popular folk music style in Tamil Nadu. The name of the band was inspired by a phrase – "jaathi bedha matra Tamilargal" – used by Tamil anti-caste activist and writer C Iyothee Thass.[30] Iyothee Thassa Pandithar (1845-1914) was the first to moot the phrase "Jaathi Bedha Matra Tamizhargal" in the early 20th century by publishing the same in his Tamil Journal Tamizhan (1907-1914).[31]


As director and writer[edit]

Year Film Cast Notes
2012 Attakathi Dinesh, Nandita Swetha, Aishwarya Rajesh, Kalaiyarasan, Vishwanath
2014 Madras Karthi, Catherine Tresa, Riythvika, Charles Vinoth, Kalaiyarasan, V. I. S. Jayapalan
2016 Kabali Rajinikanth, Radhika Apte, Sai Dhanshika, Winston Chao, Kishore, Dinesh, Kalaiyarasan, John Vijay, Nassar, Riythvika
2018 Kaala Rajinikanth, Nana Patekar, Samuthirakani, Easwari Rao, Huma Qureshi

As producer[edit]

Year Film Notes
2018 Pariyerum Perumal
2019 Irandam Ulagaporin Kadaisi Gundu [32]
2020 Untitled movie by Ranjith's assistant Suresh Mari [33]

Awards and Nominations[edit]

Year Film Award Category Outcome Ref
2012 Attakathi Jaya TV Awards Best Director Won [34]
2014 Madras Ananda Vikatan Cinema Awards Best Director Won [35]
Best Story Won [35]
Edison Awards Best Director Won [36]
Filmfare Awards South Best Director - Tamil Nominated [37]
South Indian International Movie Awards Best Director - Tamil Won [38]
Vijay Awards Best Director Won [39]
2016 Kabali Edison Awards Best Director Won [40]
Filmfare Awards South Best Director Nominated [41]
IIFA Utsavam Best Director Nominated [41]
2018 Kaala Ananda Vikatan Cinema Awards Best Dialogue writer Won [42]
2018 Pariyerum Perumal Behindwoods Gold medal Best Producer Won [43]
Norway Tamil Film Awards Best Film Won [44]
Edison Awards Best Film Won [45]
South Indian International Movie Awards Best Film – Tamil Won


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  2. ^ "Kaala director Pa Ranjith: Since I am vocal about Dalit people, every act is interpreted through a caste lens". The Indian Express. 10 June 2018. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  3. ^ "Kaala director Pa Ranjith: Since I am vocal about Dalit people, every act is interpreted through a caste lens". The Indian Express. 10 June 2018. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  4. ^ "Don't want to be known as Dalit filmmaker: Pa Ranjith". Hindustan Times. 29 July 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
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  20. ^ Reporter, Staff (17 October 2016). "Pa. Ranjith ventures into production". Retrieved 4 May 2019 – via
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  23. ^ "Pa Ranjith's 'Vaanam' Aims to Convey Sensitive Issues Through Art". The Quint. 31 December 2018. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  24. ^ Ramesh, Akshaya (2 January 2019). "Vaanam Arts Festival: An education on the Dalit movement". Retrieved 4 May 2019 – via
  25. ^ "Director Pa Ranjith's Vaanam Festival Wants To Use Art To Have Difficult Conversations". HuffPost India. 30 December 2018. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  26. ^ S, Srivatsan (5 November 2018). "Koogai Thiraipada Iyakkam: a library to bridge the gap between literature and cinema". Retrieved 4 May 2019 – via
  27. ^ "A new age in kodambakkam". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
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  30. ^ Govindarajan, Vinita. "The Casteless Collective: A music band's debut has caught the attention of Chennai and the internet". Retrieved 4 May 2019.
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  36. ^ James, Anu (16 February 2015). "8th Edison Awards: 'Madras' Best Tamil Film; Dhanush Best Actor for 'VIP' [PHOTOS+WINNERS' LIST]". International Business Times, India Edition. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  37. ^ "Winners: 62nd Britannia Filmfare Awards (South) - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  38. ^ "SIIMA AWARDS - 2015 - winners - -". Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  39. ^ "Vijay Awards 2015 - Complete list of winners". Sify. Archived from the original on 5 May 2015. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  40. ^ "Edison Awards". Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  41. ^ a b Upadhyaya, Prakash (14 March 2017). "IIFA South Utsavam Awards 2017: Here is the complete nomination list for Tamil movies". International Business Times, India Edition. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
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  45. ^ Abhijith (19 February 2019). "Edison Awards 2019 Winners List: Dhanush, Nayanthara & Others!". Retrieved 4 May 2019.