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P. Padmarajan
P. Padmarajan
P. Padmarajan

(1945-05-23)23 May 1945
Died23 January 1991(1991-01-23) (aged 45)
Other namesPappettan
Alma mater
Years active1975–1991
  • T. Anantha Padmanabha Pillai
  • N. Devaki Amma

Padmarajan Padmanabhan Pillai, better known as P. Padmarajan (23 May 1945 – 24 January 1991) was an Indian film maker, screenwriter and author who was known for his works in Malayalam literature and Malayalam cinema.[1] He was the founder of a new school of film making in Malayalam cinema, along with Bharathan and K. G. George, in the 1980s.

Padmarajan was known for his detailed screenwriting and expressive direction style[2][3] and made some of the landmark motion pictures in Malayalam cinema.[4] He won the Kerala Sahithya Academy Award in 1972 for his novel Nakshathrangale Kaval. He made his directorial debut in 1979 with Peruvazhiyambalam which won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Malayalam. He won his second National Award in 1986 with Thinkalaazhcha Nalla Divasam. Padmarajan had won six Kerala State Film Awards which includes two awards for Best Story in 1978, 1979 and two awards for Best Screenplay in 1984 and 1986. He has written screenplay for thirty seven movies among which eighteen he directed. The screenplay for all the movies he directed were written by Padmarajan himself. Njan Gandharvan was his last movie and within a week of its release, he died at Kozhikode due to sudden cardiac arrest.

Early life[edit]

Padmarajan was born on 23 May 1945 in Muthukulam near Haripad in Alappuzha, which was then under the princely state of Travancore. He was the sixth son of Thundathil Anantha Padmanabha Pillai and Njavarakkal Devaki Amma. After early schooling at Muthukulam, he studied at Mahatma Gandhi College, Thiruvananthapuram and University College, Thiruvananthapuram, graduating with a B.Sc. 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 involvement in films prompted him to retire voluntarily.[5]

Career as screenwriter and director[edit]

Padmarajan's stories mainly deal with deceit, murder, romance, mystery, passion, jealousy, libertinism, anarchism, individualism, social structure, human psychology and life of peripheral elements of society. Some of them are considered among the best in Malayalam literature.[6][7][8] In his films and stories, Padmarajan created characters that were complex, multidimensional, and deeply human. Padmarajan's works were often inspired by real-life people and situations he witnessed, such as the tragic tale of a woman who committed suicide after being abandoned by her lover, which served as the basis for his film "Thakara." He often drew inspiration from the people and situations he encountered in his daily life, such as the struggles of rural farmers or the complexities of urban relationships. The screenplay for all the movies he directed were written by Padmarajan himself. His first novel published in 1971 titled Nakshathrangale Kaaval (The Stars Alone Guard Me) won the Kerala Sahithya Academy award (1972).[9]

He entered the world of Malayalam cinema by writing the screenplay for Prayanam (1975) which was Bharathan's directorial debut and had the cinematography by Balu Mahendra.[10] Rappadikalude Gatha (1978) was his third movie as a screenwriter which won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Story in 1978. His next work as a screenwriter was the classic erotic film Rathinirvedam (1978) which is regarded as a landmark in Indian film history.[11]

After writing screenplay for three more films, Padmarajan made his directional debut in 1979 with Peruvazhiyambalam (The Halfway House). It won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Malayalam and was included in IBN Live's list of 100 greatest Indian films of all time.[12] His next directed Oridathoru Phayalvaan (There Lived a Wrestler) in 1981. Padmarajan also did the editing of this movie. It won the award for best script at the Kuala Lumpur International Film Festival and a gold medal at the Asian Film Festival. In 1982 he directed Novemberinte Nashtam which was critically acclaimed. Padmarajan's Koodevide? (1983) won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Film with Popular Appeal and Aesthetic Value. In 1984, he wrote the screenplay for I. V Sasi's Kanamarayathu, which won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Screenplay. In 1986 he directed Desatanakkili Karayarilla, which is one of the first Indian films that explored womance on screen.[13] He won the second National Award with Thinkalazhcha Nalla Divasam in 1985. Padmarajan's Kariyilakkattu Pole (1986) is considered one of the classic investigative thrillers in Malayalam.[14] The same year he directed Arappatta Kettiya Gramathil which was a failure at box office. The plot of the movie which revolves around a brothel and the sex workers in it eventually developed a cult following.[15]

With Mohanlal and Mammootty in the lead role, Padmarajan directed some of the cult classic movies in Malayalam such as Namukku Parkkan Munthiri Thoppukal (1986), Arappatta Kettiya Gramathil (1986), Kariyilakkattu Pole (1986), Thoovanathumbikal (1987) and Season (1989).[16] Thoovanathumbikal was ranked eighth by IBN Live in its list of greatest Indian films of all time and is considered one of the best romantic movies ever made in Malayalam.[17][18] Aparan (1988) is his another classic mystery psychological thriller which also marked the acting debut of Jayaram.[19] It won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Screenplay in 1988. Moonnam Pakkam (1988) is another classic Padmarajan movie which was critically acclaimed.[20] His 1990 movie Innale is mainly noted for the performance of Suresh Gopi.[21] Padmarajan's last movie Njan Gandharvan (1991) was a failure at box office. But the film later developed a cult following because of its aesthetics and storytelling. Within a week of its release, Padmarajan died at a hotel in Kozhikode.[22] In total Padmarajan has written screenplay for 37 films among 18 of which he directed.

Association with Bharathan[edit]

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. The term "Parallel film" is usually used to describe Padmarajan's style of film making. Along with Bharathan, he displayed mastery in handling sexuality on the screen, hitherto less known in Malayalam cinema.[23]

Association with actors[edit]

He was quite adept in spotting talent, and introduced many fresh faces who would later make their mark in Indian cinema, including Jayaram (Aparan), Ashokan (Peruvazhiyambalam), Rasheed (Oridathoru Phayalvaan), Rahman (Koodevide), Ramachandran (Novemberinte Nashtam), Ajayan (Moonnam Pakkam). Also artists like Nitish Bharadwaj (Njan Gandharvan), Suhasini (Koodevide); Shari (Namukku Parkkan Munthirithoppukal) were introduced to Malayalam screen by him.[24]

He coaxed sparkling and inspired performances from many actors, such as Bharath Gopi, Mammootty, Mohanlal, Jayaram, Shobana, Sumalatha, Karamana Janardanan Nair, Rahman, Jagathy Sreekumar, Suresh Gopi, Thilakan, Nedumudi Venu and Ashokan; indeed, Thilakan's rendition in Moonnam Pakkam is considered one of the best performance in his career. His association with Mohanlal and Mammootty was well noted especially because their films broke the conventional concepts prevailing during that time.[25] 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 scriptwriter is considered to have produced remarkable works in Malayalam cinema. His assistants who went on to direct films independently include Thoppil Ajayan (Perumthachan), Suresh Unnithan's (Jaathakam, Raadhaamaadhavam), and Blessy's (Kaazhcha, Thanmaathra, the latter adapted from Padmarajan's short story Orma.[26]

Film making[edit]

Padmarajan is celebrated for his unparalleled attention to detail in his screenplays. Most of his films portrayed human relationships and emotions.[27] Many of his films have haunting climaxes, most of them not commonly portrayed in Malayalam movies. His characters are portrayed with sensitivity and intensity on the screen. The landscape is also the major part of the Padmarajan's craft in film making. His thesis were well crafted in his films. Padmarajan’s films explore the features of the landscape naturally.[28]

Padmarajan's screenplays had such hitherto-unheard of features and subjects – such as casting rain as a character in Thoovanathumbikal (Dragonflies in the drizzle), homosexual love in Desatanakkili Karayarilla (Migratory Birds Don't Cry), unusual climax (by traditional standards) in Namukku Parkkan Munthiri Thoppukal (Vineyards for us to dwell) and Oridathoru Phayalvaan (There Lived a Wrestler).[29] Forbidden love and characters that strive to rise above the limitations of middle-class Malayali society of the seventies and eighties is a recurring theme in many of his works. Many of his films bear the mark of his romanticism.[30]

Personal life[edit]

Padmarajan's wife Radhalakshmi 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.

Padmarajan died suddenly at Hotel Paramount Towers in Calicut in the early hours of 23 January 1991, while he was visiting a cinema playing his last film Njan Gandharvan. The cause of death was a massive cardiac arrest.[31]



Short stories[edit]

  • Aparan ( Aparan)
  • Avalude Katha
  • Kariyilakkattu Pole (Kariyilakkattu Pole)
  • Kaivariyude Thekkeyattam
  • Kazhinja Vasantha Kalathil
  • Lola
  • Mattullavarude Venal
  • Onnu Randu Moonnu
  • Prahelika
  • Pukakkannada
  • Syphilisinte Nadakkavu
  • Athirthi
  • Jeevithacharya
  • Choondal
  • Amritheth
  • Swayam
  • Mazha
  • Mrithy
  • Oru Sthree Oru Purushan
  • Kunju
  • Shoorphanaka
  • Kaikeyi
  • Nisha Shalabham
  • Banyan Avenue
  • Orma
  • Jeevithacharya
  • Oru Sameepakaala Durantham
  • Ningalude Thaavalangal Ningalkk
  • Raanimaarude Kudumbam
  • Ore Chandranmaar


Year Film Director Writer Directed by Lead Role
1975 Prayanam Yes Bharathan Nandita Bose, Karan, Lakshmi, Kottarakkara Sridharan Nair
1977 Itha Ivide Vare Yes I. V. Sasi Bahadoor, Adoor Bhasi, Jayabharati, Jayan
1978 Nakshathrangale Kaaval Yes K.S. Sethumadhavan Bahadur, Adoor Bhasi, Nandita Bose, Jayabharati
1978 Rappadikalude Gatha Yes K.G. George M.G. Soman, Vidhubala, Jose, Krishnachandran
1978 Rathinirvedam Yes Bharathan Krishnachandran, Jayabharati, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, K.P.A.C. Lalitha
1978 Sathrathil Oru Rathri Yes N. Sankaran Nair Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Prathapachandran, Sukumaran, M.G. Soman
1978 Vadakakku Oru Hridayam Yes I. V. Sasi Bahadoor, Adoor Bhasi, Adoor Bhavani, Janardhanan
1979 Peruvazhiyambalam Yes Asokan, Jose Prakash, K. P. A. C. Lalitha, Geetha, Bharath Gopi
1979 Kochu Kochu Thettukal Yes Mohan Kalasala Babu, Paravoor Bharathan, Hema Chaudhari, Innocent
1980 Thakara Yes Bharathan Prathap Pothen, Surekha, Nedumudi Venu, K.G. Menon
1981 Shalini Ente Koottukari Yes Mohan Shobha, Jalaja, Sukumaran, Venu Nagavalli
1981 Oridathoru Phayalvaan Yes Nedumudi Venu, Jayamala, Jayanthi, Asokan
1981 Kallan Pavithran Yes Nedumudi Venu, Bharat Gopy, Adoor Bhasi, Subhashini, Beena Banerjee
1982 Lorry Yes Bharathan Achankunju, Bahadur, Meena, Balan K. Nair
1982 Novemberinte Nashtam Yes Madhavi, Prathap Pothen, Surekha, Bharat Gopy
1983 Idavela Yes Mohan Idavela Babu, Asokan, Nalini, Innocent
1983 Koodevide Yes Suhasini Maniratnam, Mammootty, Rahman, Jose Prakash
1983 Kaikeyi Yes I. V. Sasi Poornima Jayaram, Vanitha Krishnachandran, Prathap Pothen, Radhika Sarathkumar
1984 Eenam Yes Bharathan Adoor Bhasi, Bharat Gopy, Kanakalatha, Unni Mary
1984 Parannu Parannu Parannu Yes Rahman, Rohini, Nedumudi Venu, Sukumari, Jagathy Sreekumar
1985 Kanamarayathu Yes I. V. Sasi Mammootty, Shobana, Rahman, Seema
1985 Thinkalazhcha Nalla Divasam Yes Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Mammootty, Srividya, Karamana Janardanan Nair,
1985 Ozhivukalam Yes Bharathan Prem Nazeer, Srividhya, Rohini, K.T.C. Abdullah, Jalaja, Bhaskara Kurup, Karamana Janardanan Nair
1986 Karimpinpoovinakkare Yes I. V. Sasi Mammootty, Mohanlal, Seema, Urvashi
1986 Anokha Rishta Yes I. V. Sasi Rajesh Khanna, Smita Patil, Sabeeha, Shafi Inamdar
1986 Namukku Parkkan Munthiri Thoppukal Yes Mohanlal, Shari, Thilakan, Vineeth, Kaviyoor Ponnamma
1986 Kariyilakkattu Pole Yes Mammootty, Mohanlal, Rahman, Karthika, Jalaja, Sripriya
1986 Arappatta Kettiya Gramathil Yes Mammootty, Jagathy Sreekumar, Asokan, Nedumudi Venu, Sukumari
1986 Desatanakkili Karayarilla Yes Mohanlal, Urvashi, Karthika, Jalaja, Shari Sukumari
1987 Nombarathi Poovu Yes Madhavi, Murali, Mammootty, Shari, Jagathy Sreekumar
1988 Thoovanathumbikal Yes Mohanlal, Sumalatha, Parvathy Jayaram, Asokan, Jagathy Sreekumar
1988 Aparan Yes Jayaram, Shobana, Mukesh, Madhu, Parvathi, Jalaja, Jagathy Sreekumar,
1989 Moonnam Pakkam Yes Jayaram, Asokan, Thilakan, Rahman, Jagathy Sreekumar
1990 Season Yes Mohanlal, Gavin Packard, Asokan, Jagathy Sreekumar, Shari
1990 Innale Yes Shobana, Jayaram, Srividya, Suresh Gopi, Jagathy Sreekumar
1990 Ee Thanutha Veluppan Kalathu Yes Joshiy Mammootty, Suresh Gopi, Murali, Mukesh, Lakshmi, Jagathy Sreekumar
1991 Njan Gandharvan Yes Nitish Bharadwaj, Suparna Anand, M.G. Soman, Ganesh Kumar


[32][7] According to his family sources, Padmarajan, who started his career as a Staff Announcer in All India Radio, rendered his voice in many movies as well. Some of the notable ones are as below:

  • 1921 : Voice-over for the Prologue.
  • Novemberinte Nashtam : Das, the lead character played by Pratap Pothen.
  • Peruvazhiyambalam : The shop owner who converses with the character Prabhakaran Pillai, in the first scene of the movie.
  • Oridathoru Phayalvaan : The wrestler who is the protagonist of the movie, played by Rashid.
  • Kariyilakkaattu Pole : The Head Priest at the Ashram where the character Bhagini Sevaamayi played by Unni Mary resides.
  • Aparan : The Imposter’s role played by Jayaram. Also the rogue’s role played by VBK Menon who gets into a brawl with the hero Vishwanathan, at the restaurant.
  • Innale : The herdsman, played by Nilambur Balan, who finds the body of female lead role played by Shobhana after the accident.
  • Njan Gandharvan : The Celestial Voice.
  • Koodevide : The small role of a military officer who informs the character portrayed by Suhasini about her brother’s sudden demise.
  • Season : The voice-over in between the song “Poy Varoo…”


Kerala Sahithya Academy Awards
National Film Awards
Filmfare Awards South
Kerala State Film Awards[33]
Kerala Film Critics' Awards
Film Fans' Awards
Other awards

Padmarajan Award[edit]

Padmarajan Puraskaram or Padmarajan Award is an annual film/literary award instituted by the Padmarajan Memorial Trust.[34] It carries a plaque and a cash award of 10,000.[34] The award is given in two categories:

  • Padmarajan Award for Best Short Story
  • Padmarajan Award for Best Film

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Remembering P. Padmarajan". filmfare.com. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  2. ^ "ആ അനുഭവത്തെ ക്ലാരയെന്നു വിളിച്ച് അവർ ഒരുപാട് മഴകൾ നനഞ്ഞു; പത്മരാജനെ ഓർക്കുമ്പോൾ". ManoramaOnline (in Malayalam). Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  3. ^ "ഇല്ല പ്രായമാകുന്നേയില്ല ആ സിനിമകള്‍ക്കും കഥാപാത്രങ്ങൾക്കും!". malayalam.samayam.com (in Malayalam). Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  4. ^ "Vineyards of passion and bloody beaches: 5 eternal Padmarajan films for movie buffs". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  5. ^ "Remembering Padmarajan: പറയാതെ പറഞ്ഞും പറഞ്ഞു നിറഞ്ഞും: പദ്മരാജനെ ഓര്‍ക്കുമ്പോള്‍". Indian Express Malayalam (in Malayalam). Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  6. ^ "Ananthapadmanabhan as guest in Morning Show 24-01-17". YouTube.
  7. ^ a b "പത്മരാജനെ അഗീകരിച്ചത് പിൻതലമുറകൾ- രാധാലക്ഷ്മി പത്മരാജൻ".
  8. ^ "30 years after Padmarajan's death, wife Radha speaks on the beautiful life they shared". 28 January 2021.
  9. ^ "Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award" Archived 26 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine (in Malayalam). Kerala Sahitya Akademi. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  10. ^ Venkiteswaran, C. s (21 January 2010). "Storyteller beyond compare". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  11. ^ Manmadhan, Prema (17 June 2011). "Re-exploring 'Rathinirvedam'". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  12. ^ "How Padmarajan's 'Peruvazhiyambalam' is forerunner to Malayalam's angry-young-men films". The News Minute. 5 January 2020. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  13. ^ "From 'Deshadanakili Karayarilla' to 'Aami': The gay identity in Malayalam films". The News Minute. 11 July 2018. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  14. ^ "'അറം' അങ്ങനെ കരിയിലക്കാറ്റ് പോലെ'യായി; അന്ധവിശ്വാസങ്ങളുടെ ഫലമായി പേര് മാറ്റിയ അറിയാക്കഥ". Mathrubhumi. 18 July 2020. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  15. ^ "High Five". The Hindu. 8 December 2016. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  16. ^ "7 timeless Malayalam romances and where you can watch them online". The News Minute. 15 February 2020. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  17. ^ "Padmarajan And His Portrayal Of Real And Self-Compassionate Women". Feminism In India. 18 September 2018. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  18. ^ "'Mayabazar' is India's greatest film ever: IBNLive poll". 7 June 2013. Archived from the original on 7 June 2013. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  19. ^ "Padmarajan's Aparan still remains fresh after 30 years". Cinema Express. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  20. ^ "'Kireedom' to 'Akashadoothu': Ten Malayalam tragedies that dried up my tears". The News Minute. 24 February 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  21. ^ "Looking At Padmarajan's Innale, And His Remarkable Oeuvre". Film Companion. 29 November 2020. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  22. ^ "Love and sensuality in 'Njan Gandharvan': Revisiting Padmarajan's last film". The News Minute. 11 July 2020. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  23. ^ "പത്മരാജന്റെ പ്രണയം ശരീരത്തെ മറികടക്കുമ്പോള്‍ ഭരതന്റെ പ്രണയം ശരീരത്തെ വീണ്ടെടുക്കുന്നു". Asianet News Network Pvt Ltd (in Malayalam). Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  24. ^ Kumar, KP Nijeesh. "Padmarajan's demise made me to exit from mollywood, says 'Njan Gandharvan' actor". Mathrubhumi. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  25. ^ "Remembering mastero filmmaker Padmarajan with his popular love stories". The Times of India. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  26. ^ S, Priyadershini (29 July 2011). "Small town guy in TINSELTOWN". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  27. ^ "Gone too soon: Mollywood filmmakers who died before their time". OnManorama. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  28. ^ Rajan, Silpa. "Jayaram fondly remembers late Padmarajan on his death anniversary, says they were to make their fourth project together". The Times of India. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  29. ^ Sathyendran, Nita (24 May 2019). "Remembering the genius of P Padmarajan". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  30. ^ FWDmedia (23 May 2018). "Remembering Padmarajan, The Legend of Malayalam Cinema". FWD Life | The Premium Lifestyle Magazine |. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  31. ^ "30 years after Padmarajan's death, wife Radha speaks on the beautiful life they shared". The News Minute. 28 January 2021. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  32. ^ ""നീ ഒരിക്കലും സംവിധായകനാകരുത്,സമാധാനം കിട്ടില്ല " | Padmarajan മകനോട് അവസാനമായി പറഞ്ഞത്". YouTube.
  33. ^ "Kerala State Film Awards". Public Relations Department, Government of Kerala. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  34. ^ a b Padmarajan Puraskaram for writer Paul Zachariah. The Hindu. April 4, 2010. Retrieved July 15, 2015.

External links[edit]